Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, March 18, 2011

Anne Enright-Two Stories-Irish Short Story Week-Day Five

"Natalie"  (2007, 4 pages)  and "The Bed Department (2 pages, 2001) by Anne Enright

Day Five
The Future of the Irish Short Story Day
Anne Enright

Anne Enright (1968-Dublin) won the Booker Prize in 2007 for The Gathering.   Enright graduated from Trinity College in Dublin following in the footsteps of Jonathan Swift,  Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Becket.  Enright worked in television as a producer of children's programs before devoting her full time to writing in 1993.  She is married and has two children.

Enright is still quite young.    Her potential to join the ranks of the great Irish short story writers is high, it seems to me.    The quality of her prose is very great.   Both of the two stories I read (both are from The New Yorker) are told in the first person by a woman.   The two women (both stories are set in Dublin) are very different on the surface.   One is a 43 or so year old woman, divorced with grown sons at home working as a salesperson in a department store.    One is a 17 old  and lives with her parents in a world of  boyfriends and best friends and "he said-she said" drama.   But both women are very self aware, quite strong, open with their sexuality and both lead lives cramped in by circumstances.   Both like to think they are a bit above the petty status concerns of their friends and co-workers and both seem wrong in this part of their self-awareness.

"Natalie"   (you can read it here)  is told in the first person by a 17 year old girl.   It is all about her boyfriend, her boyfriend's best friend and his girl friend.    The narrator is open about the fact that she has sex with her boyfriend sometimes.  (A really subtle line in the narrative let me see she was manipulated emotionally  by her boyfriend into thinking she owed him sexual gratification.    I started to think toward  the end of the story that maybe, even though the girl is very smart and has a lot of emotional intelligence, her boyfriend might just be using her for sex and has no interest in the dramas of their lives that she thrives on.   In any case it is very well done story.

"In the Bed Department"  (You can read it here)   packs a huge amount of life into two pages.    The story is told in the first person by a 40 something year old woman recently divorced with two grown sons living with her.   She works as a sales person in the bed department of a big Dublin department store.    It is so compacted to anything of the plot would be a spoiler.    Here is a sample of her prose so you can see her style.

"Anne, good to see you"-Rory
"Not that she minded men. She had two grown sons at home, so she was used to it: the cheerfulness, the indifference, and the mess. Though sometimes she turned around in the kitchen and was shocked by the sheer size of them—all that protein and carbohydrate, the muscle and milk of them, as though she had fed a couple of potted plants, and grown triffids"
The narrator makes a lot of really telling observations about her life and what goes on around her.   The ending is really powerful, shocking, and honest.

I will be reading more of Enright's stories.    I can see her on a year 2030 Irish Short Story Week Post
listed as one of the greatest living short story writers.  Or at least I hope so!

Please send me any suggestions you have for Irish short stories.  

My thanks to those who have participated so far.   There is still plenty of time to join in.

Mel u

"OK now things are looking up"-

.  Mel u


Suko said...

Mel, I have not read any Enright yet but you've certainly captured my interest. Thank you for the links!

I've been reading other short stories and just posted a review for your Irish Short Story Week. What a terrific reading challenge this has been! Even though I only posted about one short story, I've enjoyed reading your reviews and have read several other stories, by authors who at least sound Irish due to their last names.

Mel u said...

Suko-thanks so much for joining in

Hannah said...

What an interesting week this has been! I read Bowen's "Oh Madam" for today and loved it!

Mel u said...

Lifetimereader-I read your post on "Oh Madame"-really insightful-you might also "The Jungle" which is in a podcast at the Manchester Guardian-thanks so much for joining in-