Monday, January 07, 2008

The Gathering

Anne Enright's The Gathering won the Man Book Prize in 2007, and it's a really fantastic read. It's woman from a very large Irish family who's brother has died, and all the family members gather for the funeral. The main character has a memory that she's never dealt with, of her brother being abused, and she grapples with the memory, not even sure if it occurred, and feels a guilt and obligation to share it with her other siblings.

Every word of Enright's novel is pure poetry, and she has a way of ending her chapters with killer sentences, the both make you stop to catch your breathe and eager to turn the page. There's a feminist slant that runs through the book as the main character regrets the circumstances of her matriarchs, burdened with one pregnancy after another, so that they were barely able to function. She writes:
I think of her when I do the dishes. Of course I have a dishwasher, so if I ever have to cry, it is not into the sink, quietly like Ada. The sink was her place for this. Facing out of the back of the house, something about the endless potatoes that needed peeling, or the paltriness of the yard, but, like all women maybe, Ada occasionally had a little sniffle and then plink, plink, a few tears would hit the water in the sink. Like all women Ada sometimes had to wipe her nose with her forearm because he hands were wet.

The Gathering's full of big ideas, some of which I haven't really processed yet. When it comes down to it, I suppose she's writing about that odd phenomenon - that we can both love and hate the same person.
God, I hate my family, these people I never chose to love, but love all the same.
It's painfully honest, and I think Enright is one of my new favorite authors.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Another summary that piques my curiosity. Thanks!