Anne Enright


Life
1962- ; b. Dublin, ed. Vancouver and TCD, and later entered Creative Writing course at Univ. of East Anglia where she was taught by Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter; commenced serious writing at Guthrie writer’s centre, Annaghmakerrig, 1985; short stories published in Faber Introductions; trained and worked as producer/director at RTÉ; worked on “Night Hawks”; issued The Portable Virgin (1991), stories, winner of the Rooney Prize, 1991; wrote her first novel, The Wig My Father Wore (1995), on leaving RTÉ;
 
issued What Are You Like? (2000), which follows lives of twin girls, shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award and winner of British-based Encore Award for best second novel (£10,000); The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (2002), based on the true history of an Irish courtesan in Latin America; also Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood (2005); The Gathering (2007) won the Man Booker Prize, 16 Oct. 2007 and the Hughes & Hughes Best Novel Prize, 2008; courted controversy with an article ‘disliking’ the McCann’s, parents of the missing child Madeleine, Oct. 2007;
 
issued Taking Pictures (2008), a new collection of stories, one of which “Honey”) took the Davy Byrne’s Irish Writing Award; ed. The Granta Book of Irish Short Stories (2010); occas. contrib. to “Diary” column of the London Review of Books; ed. The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story (2010), a selection made with the help of her mother and sister; m. Martin Murphy, actor and manager of the Pavilion Th., Dun Laoghaire, with whom 2 children;
 
Enright she lives in Bray, Co. Wicklow; she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature; issued The Forgotten Waltz (2011), the story of an affair with the adulterous father of a troubled daughter in Celtic-Tiger Dublin - partly modelled on Ford’s The Good Soldier; appointed first 3-year Laureate of Irish Fiction by Irish Arts Council by a panel chaired by Paul Muldoon, Jan. 2015; issued The Green Road (May 2015), a tale of Irish family reunion in Co. Clare for the far-flung Madigan children dispersed between West Africa and the East Village (NY) - longlisted for the Booker Prize, 23 Aug. 2015; her novel The Green Road wins The Eason Book Club Novel of the Year award in the Irish Book Awards, Dublin, Nov. 2015; she is speaking at UNSW (Australia) on 31 May 2017. ATT

Anne Enright interviews the economist Paul Mason about Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow at King's College, London - ?Nov. 2014 - online; accessed 19.08.2105.

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Works
Short stories
  • The Portable Virgin (London: Secker & Warburg 1991), 224pp.; rep. edn. (London: Minerva 1992), 180pp.
  • Taking Pictures (London: Jonathan Cape 2008), 240pp., and Do. [large print edn.] (Bath: Chivers 2008), 239pp.;
  • Yesterday’s Weather (London: Vintage 2009), x, 308pp., and Do. (NY: Grove Press [5 Dec. 2008]), 308pp. [arranged in reverse chronological order; introduced by the author - see extract].
Novels
  • The Wig My Father Wore (London: Jonathan Cape 1995; Minerva 1996), 216pp., and Do., trans. Jürgen Schneider, So Fern Engel Sehen (Fischer Taschenbuch 1998), 197pp.;
  • What Are You Like? (London: Jonathan Cape 2000; London: Vintage 2001), 259pp. [see extract];
  • The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (London: Jonathan Cape 2002; rep. Vintage 2003), 256pp. [see extract];
  • Making Babies: Stumbling Into Motherhood (London: Jonathan Cape 2005) [q.pp.];
  • The Gathering (London: Jonathan Cape 2007), 260pp.;
  • The Forgotten Waltz (London: Jonathan Cape; Vintage 2011), q.pp.
  • The Green Road (London: Jonathan Cape 2015), 320pp.

In trans.

  • Retrouvailles: roman [The Gathering], traduit par Isabelle Reinharez (Arles: Actes Sud impr. 2009), 309pp.
Miscellaneous
  • Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood (London: Jonathan Cape 2004), 196pp. [see extract];
  • ed. & intro., The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story (London: Granta 2010) [incls. Kevin Barry, Samuel Beckett, Elizabeth Bowen, Maeve Brennan, Jennifer Cornell, Roddy Doyle, Mary Lavin, Neil Jordan, Mary Lavin, John McGahern, Bernard MacLaverty, Aidan Mathews, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Claire Keegan, Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Frank O’Connor, Sean O’Faolain, Keith Ridgway, Colm Toibin, et al.]
  • contrib. story to Silver Threads of Hope, ed. Sinéad Gleeson (Dublin: New Island Press 2012) in aid of the suicide prevention charity Console].

See also contrib. to Caitriona Moloney & Helen Thompson, eds., Irish Women Writers Speak Out: Voices from the Field, with a foreword by Ann Owen Weekes (Syracuse UP 2003), q.pp.

Journalism
  • ‘The Irish Short Story’, in The Guardian (7 Nov. 2010) [see extract].
See also ...  
Contributions to London Review of Books - as infra;
Contributions to The New Yorker - as infra.

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“(She Owns), Every Thing” [story] was broadcast by Selected Shorts as part of Colm McCann’s “An Irish Ear: Favourite Stories” on 17 Feb. 2011 having been read by Mary-Louise Parker in the Symphony Space, New York, NY [see online]. The story was also anthologised in Colm Tóibín’s Penguin Book of Irish Short Stories (1999). A film version was directed by Alexandra McGuinness to her own screenplay in 2011 - characterised as short comedy-romance drama in IMDb [online; all accessed 2.08.2011].

Plot: Cathy, works at the handbag counter of a department store and is comfortably stuck in a passionless marriage. Cathy’s world is turned on it’s head when she falls in love with a woman who tries to buy a handbag from her. Cathy’s life begins to unravel, she begins to yearn for sensations, feelings and things she has never owned before and when it all becomes too much she decides to transfer all her pain to a brown leather handbag. (Anon.; see IMBb > plot summary, online; accessed 2.08.2011.)

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Reviews [sel.], Will Self, Dorian (Penguin), in The Irish Times (23 Nov. 2002 ) [see extract]; ‘A Man Whose Rhyme Has Come’ [on Arthur Riordan’s Improbably Frequency], in The Irish Times (3 March 2005) [see extract]; ‘Do you Love Your Mother? Do you even Know Your Mother?’ [eve of Mother’s Day], in The Irish Times, Weekend (5 March 2005) [q.p.; port by Darragh Casey]; review of Eimar McBride, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, in The Guardian (20 Sept. 2013) [see under McBride - infra]. .... (See further under Commentary, infra.

Contributions to the London Review of Books “Diary” column ...
What’s left of Henrietta Lacks? (13 April 2000)
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My Milk (5 Oct. 2000)
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online
Listen to Heloïse (10 May 2007)
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Disliking the McCanns (4 Oct. 2007)
A Writer’s Life (28 May 2008)
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Sinking by Inches (7 Jan. 2010)

Mrs Robinson Repents (28 Jan. 2010)
Meeting Angela Carter (17 Feb. 2011)

Contributions to The New Yorker - fiction
“Natalie”, in The New Yorker (24 Dec. 2007)

Contributions to Granta - fiction
“Little Sister”, in Granta, 75 (Autumn 2001)
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“Shaft”, in Granta, 85 (Autumn 2001)
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See also ‘A Man Whose Rhyme Has Come’ [on Arthur Riordan], in The Irish Times (Thurs., 3 March 2005) [attached]; ‘A Many-splendoured Love Story’, review of Kate O’Brien, Music and Splendour, in The Irish Times, Weekend (20 Aug. 2005) [under O’Brien, attached], and ‘Hard-boiled in Dublin’, review of The Dying Breed by Declan Hughes, in The Guardian (26 April 2008) [see under Hughes, attached].

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Criticism
Book-length studies
  • Claire Bracken & Susan Cahill, eds., Anne Enright (Dublin: IAP 2011), 256pp. [see contents].
Reviews & articles
  • John Kenny, ‘Ferociously-paced magical surrealism’, review of What are You Like?, in The Irish Times (4 March 2000) [see extract];
  • James Wood, review of What are You Like, in Guardian Weekly (23-29 March 2000) [see extract];
  • [Shirley Kelly,] ‘What it’s like to have the future inside you’ [interview with Anne Enright], in Books Ireland (October 2002), pp.235-36 [see extract];
  • Robert MacFarlane, review of Anne Enright, What Are You Like?, in Times Literary Supplement (3 March 2000) [see extract];
  • Claire Messud, ‘Saved from oblivion’, review of The Pleasures of Eliza Lynch, in The Irish Times (28 Sept. 2002), p.10 [see extract];
  • Vanessa Thorpe, ‘No going back’, review of Making Babies, in The Observer (1 Aug. 2004) [“Health, mind and body” sect. - available online].
  • Susan Cahill, ‘Doubles & Dislocations: The Body & Place in Anne Enright’s What Are You Like?’, in Global Ireland: Irish Literatures for the New Millenium, ed. Ondrej Pilny & Clare Wallace [IASIL Conference 2004] (Prague: Litteraria Pragensia 2005), pp.133-44;
  • A. L. Kennedy, ‘The din within’, review of The Gathering, in The Guardian (28 April 2007) [see extract];
  • Eve Patten, ‘Tracking back to the truth’, review of The Gathering, in The Irish Times (5 May 2007), “Weekend” [see extract];
  • Hermione Lee, ‘Pawed, used, loved and lonely’, review of Taking Pictures, in The Observer (1 March 2008) - available online.
  • Hedwig Schwall, ‘Muscular Metaphors in Anne Enright: An Interview’, in The European English Messenger, 70:1 (2008) pp.[21-22].
  • Heidi Hansson, ‘Anne Enright and Postnationalism in the Contemporary Irish Novel’, in Irish Literature Since 1990: Diverse Voices, ed. Scott Brewster & Michael Parker (Manchester UP 2009) [Chap. 10];
  • Declan Kiberd, review of The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story, in The Irish Times (4 Dec. 2010), Weekend, p.10.
  • Hermione Lee, review of The Forgotten Waltz, in The Guardian (Sat. 30 April 2011) [see extract].
  • Miranda Popkey, ‘Anne Enright on The Forgotten Waltz’, in The Paris Review (25 Oct. 2011) [see extract].
  • John Self, review of The Forgotten Waltz, in John Self’s Shelves, in The Asylum [blog], (9 June 2011) [see extract].
  • Liam Harte, ‘Mourning Remains Unresolved: Anne Enright’s The Gathering (2007)’, in Reading the Contemporary Irish Novel (Oxford: Blackwell 2013), pp.217-42 [Chap. 9].
  • Alex Preston, review of The Green Road, in The Guardian (3 May 2015) [see extract].
  • Anthony Cummins, review of The Green Road, in The Telegraph (13 May 2015; repub. 29 July 2015) [see extract].
See also Guardian notices on Booker winner [online at 25 Oct. 2007]; Telegraph list of Man Booker longlist, 2015 [online at 23 Aug. 2015].

Note: There is a new biography of Eliza Lynch, of later date than the Enright’s novel on the same subject: see Michael Lillis & Ronan Fanning, The Lives of Eliza Lynch (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 2009), 320pp.

[ There is a frequently-updated Wikipedia article - online ]

Bibliographical details
Claire Bracken & Susan Cahill, eds., Anne Enright (Dublin: IAP 2011), 256pp. CONTENTS: Bracken & Cahill, Introduction; Bracken & Cahill, ‘An interview with Anne Enright, August 2009; Elke D’hoker, ‘Distorting mirrors and unsettling snapshots: Anne Enright’s short fiction’; Heidi Hansson, ‘Beyond local Ireland in The Wig My Father Wore; Anne Mulhall, ‘“Now the blood is in the room”: the spectral feminine in the work of Anne Enright’; Susan Cahill, “Dreaming of upholstered breasts”, or, How to find your way back home: dislocation in What Are You Like?’; Patricia Coughlan, ‘“Without a blink of her lovely eye”: The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch and visionary scepticism’; Kristin Ewins, ‘“History is only biological”: history, bodies and national identity in The Gathering and “Switzerland”’; Gerardine Meaney, ‘Waking the dead: Antigone, Ismene and Anne Enright’s narrators in mourning’; Matthew Ryan, ‘What am I like?: writing the body and the self’; Claire Bracken, ‘Anne Enright’s machines: modernity, technology and Irish culture’; Hedwig Schwall, ‘Relationships with “the real” in the work of Anne Enright’.

See also Susan Cahill, Irish Literature in the Celtic Tiger Years 1990 to 2008 : Gender, Bodies, Memory [Continuum literary studies] (London: T & T Clark 2013) - Chap. 3: ‘Bodily Doubles and Dislocations: Anne Enright’s The Wig My Father Wore and What Are You Like?’ (q.pp.)

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Commentrary
Rudiger Imhof, review of The Wig My Father Wore (1995), in Linenhall (Winter 1995-95), p.13, writes: ‘true, the authoress writes like an angel; yet, by the end of the day the question is: what does it all add up to?’ [See also ‘Men and Angels’ under Notes, infra.]

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John Kenny, ‘Ferociously-paced magical surrealism’, review of What are You Like?, in The Irish Times (4 March 2000), summarised the plot - ‘one of the most structurally complex Irish novels of recent years’ - and writes: ‘The twin motif has a venerable history in fiction and, other than in the hands of someone like Nabokov, it can be difficult to carry off. While such matters as the mutual empathy of twins is successfully, if a little too predictably, illustrated, the parallels in the girls’ lives are sometimes established through forced and unlikely coincidences.’ Kenny suspects that ‘Rose’s developing sense of Irishness is generally overplayed’ but holds that her ‘story, nevertheless, constitutes a decent effort at identifying the dilemma of the adopted, and Maria’s breakdown due to general emotional anxiety makes for perhaps the most believable personality delineation in the novel.’ Speaking of the role of the revenant mother, he writes: ‘This perspectival variation, where apparently incidental players occasionally report on central events, is the real strength of the novel and Enright’s use of the omniscient narrator as convenor of her different voices is a welcome change to the “I” beam that dominates modern fiction.’ In summary: ‘Although certainly richer than the typographically tricksy The Wig My Father Wore (1995), it must be said that this novel, equally, does not quite measure up to the promise shown by Enright in her first volume, The Portable Virgin (1991), a collection of quick, streetwise, impressionistic stories.’ Kenny indicates that he would welcome a return to short stories from this writer but counts the novel ‘something of a bargain’. (See full version, infra.)

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James Wood, review of What are You Like (Cape), in Guardian Weekly (23-29 March 2000): ‘Anne Enright is a very original writer - a spry surrealist who challenges the world with extraordinary, lancing sentences. She and her characters eem life with a tart comedy hat is briskly ascetic, sourly lucid and never quite accountable. It is partly that Enright uses words you do not expect her to use; more than this, she speeds up the connections between thoghts (one of Bergson;s definitions of the comic) and between the sensations that her unhappy charcters experience. / Her characters are always simultaneously quicker and more confused than those in more ordinary novels: they are cognitive zealots. The danger is that Enright’s curious characters will seem not only zealots but neuristhenic clowns, rushing between various mental junctions.’ Wood’s commend the writer, who is ‘so intelleigent and controlled that she doubles the risk her style poses’ but remarks that occasionally her choice of adjectives ‘has got ahead of her characters’, instancing ‘their movements obliged and tragic’ in Maria’s observation of her farming cousins at table; notes a tendency to flippancy in the author’s stylistic confidence. Concludes, ‘Enright practices an emotional cubism, using her characters to piece together the world in stange combinations […] in the end this novel is more than style [… &c.].’

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Robert MacFarlane, review of What Are You Like?, in Times Literary Supplement (3 March 2000), summarises plot [with quotations as infra]: ‘Twin meets twin; England meets Ireland, and there is much rejoicing and comparing of notes.’ MacFarlane remarks: ‘The chapters quickly devolve into a series of semi-independent sketches. The ambitious architecture of the book seems to prevent Enright from creating any sustained emotional impetus.[…] The component parts of the book are accomplished. Enright is a meticulous writer [who] also has an eye for the ludicrous; among the walk-on characters are Wendy Shower, an American writer who is suing “the hospital where she was born because they had induced her mother early and so messed up her horoscope” , and a nameless man in a public lavatory who pulls-his penis out on a ribbon and urinates “holding it like a dog on a leash” . Disputes the superlatives in the publisher’s blurb but concedes that What are You Like? is ‘a bold and intermittently successful book [which] takes on some big issues identity, separation - and treats them with humour and perceptiveness’ though ‘the whole [is] unwieldy and disjointed.’

[Shirley Kelly,] ‘What it’s like to have the future inside you’ [Interview with Anne Enright], in Books Ireland (October 2002), pp.235-36, quotes: ‘I came back to Dublin in 1985 and things were very bleak and I had nowhere to live [...] I was so poor. I had no clothes, people would give me cardigans, and I didn’t have a hair-cut for a whole year. So I went to Annaghmakerrig and wrote three short stories while I was there, which were published in Faber’s Introductions anthology. I was able to find an agent on the strength of that.’ ‘I wouldn’t say I’m settled, but I’m not so unsettled any more. I don’t want to write about women in their twenties now. I’m interested in what people at the bus-stop are interested in. Looking at what happens to people, and how you can come undone - I think that’s very much the job of the novelist.’

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Claire Messud, ‘Saved from oblivion’, review of The Pleasures of Eliza Lynch, in The Irish Times (28 Sept. 2002), p.10: ‘[...] we are told from the outset of the novel, “many people would come to regret this moment. You might say that everyone came to regret it - except for the two participants, Francisco López and Eliza Lynch, Il Mariscal and La Lincha, Paco and Liz. Already unreal.” / The wry, knowing tone of this introduction, familiar to Enright’s readers, disappears after the first chapter. The story of Eliza and Francisco’s return to Paraguay, she heavy with child, and of their subsequent reign and disastrous warmongering, is presented in alternating chapters told in the first person from Eliza’s point of view, and in the third from that of the Scottish physician, Dr Stewart, who has accompanied the couple to Paraguay. [...] It is left to Dr Stewart to describe what happens to her in Paraguay, and what she becomes: a 19th-century Eva Perón, adored or reviled by her subjects depending largely upon their gender, facing humiliations in society and emerging, until the last, triumphant, through an indomitable force of will. [...]’ Further. Enright’s novel is primarily one of arresting and delicately conjured images, and in that sense it is more poem than story. [...] The cumulative effect is languorous and dense, as befits the Latin climate and the courtesan’s meticulous self-construction. The minor characters pale beside Eliza’s glow, and the plot (if so sweeping an arc can be thus designated) seems sometimes slowed, like the Tacuarí on the river. But, in Enright’s deft hands, form is made to fit function: we are lured to the heart of darkness by those very images which, larger than themselves, are glorious and ghastly revelations of Eliza’s soul made manifest, passionately to relive her extraordinary journey.’ (See full text in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

Roy Foster selects The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (Cape) in ‘Books of the Year’ [column], in Times Literary Supplement (6 Dec. 2002), remarking: ‘deceptively short novel .. history told with inference and atmospheric detail, and character expressed by tantalising scraps of conversation in a tour de force of imaginative recreation.’

Sam Thompson, ‘Still Life with Parrot’, review of The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch, in Times Literary Supplement ( 6 Sept. 2002) [p.23]: ‘[...] Enright’s far-reaching phrases are put to loving work mapping personal interiors. Eliza’s complicated charisma, and her vigorous self-creation in the midst of men and women who both worship and despise her, recall the work of Angela Carter (who was Enright’s creative writing tutor at the University of East Anglia ). Eliza’s foil is Dr Stewart, her personal physician, ‘the pride of Edinburgh University, stunned and soulful and drunk’. Stewart, who ‘regretted the fact that he had lived a life of constant regret”, and breaks his heart over sunsets and a small piece of tartan, is hilarious and piercingly sad; his superbly hangdog consciousness is one of the novel’s principal pleasures. / Henry James wrote that ‘the novel is of its very nature “ado”, an ado about something’. With that in mind, we can note that in this case, the form matches the content. In dealing with a marginal but also peculiarly public figure, the fiction emphatically joins nineteenth-century Paraguay in making an ado about Eliza. Lynch, turning her into ‘a kind of national Thing’. But, as fiction can, it also explores the obverse. It makes an ado about those things for which there is really nothing ado as far as history is concerned - characters like Eliza’s unfortunate maid Francine, or scenes like the mesmeric river-journey to which the narrative repeatedly returns. ‘I can see it, even with my eyes closed’, says Eliza of the brilliant river water. This is a novel that does with superior, discreet art what novels are uniquely fitted to do, and that lingers on the retina.’ (End; see full text, infra.)

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A. L. Kennedy, ‘The din within’, review of The Gathering, in The Guardian (28 April 2007): ‘The Gathering, her fourth novel, is ostensibly a simple thing. The plot, shaped around a protagonist who undergoes a shock, is knocked back physically and psychologically into past times and past places. Then comes the conclusion, where present and future are reformed in the light of histories that are suddenly newly perceived. Here Veronica Hegarty loses her already lost, lovely alcoholic brother Liam. His funeral sinks her back into the gathered ranks of her rambling Irish family - the dysfunctional, drinking, blue-eyed Hegartys. Meanwhile, Liam’s ghost hounds her out through memories and fantasies: her apparently tidy existence, her husband and children seeming more distant with each thought. / And, of course, The Gathering isn’t a simple thing at all - it’s a genuine attempt to stare down both love and death, to anatomise their pains and fears and peculiar pleasures.[...] For some, this kind of narrative will always be uncomfortable - too many feelings and not enough action. The little world of lit crit can seem a bloodless place, populated by those whose stomachs never lurch when they’re nervous, whose pupils never dilate when they see someone they love, whose hearts beat with utter regularity, far from the ignorant and animal. / Yet Enright’s work is neither mindless nor inhuman; it is clearly the product of a remarkable intelligence, combined with a gift for observation and deduction. She has uncovered the truth that sometimes our great adventures are interior. When someone we love dies, leaves, the action is elsewhere. That battle with cancer, that dramatic crash, that bolt from the blue - it’s all scripted for someone else. And yet still we insist on being changed, moved, reshaped. It is our nature, the nature Enright charts. Because narratives run on all kinds of levels. To misunderstand this is to reduce our stories to a kind of dull pornography - actions performed without emotion, without depth, by people we will never know and for whom we feel nothing. For Enright, the body, the mind, the will, the world, the heart - all work upon each other in a terrible, wonderful roar of life.’ (... &c.; see full text in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

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Eve Patten, ‘Tracking back to the truth’, review of The Gathering, in The Irish Times (5 May 2007): ‘The gathering of the numerous siblings of the Hegarty clan for his wake parallels a gathering of evidence, sifted by Veronica from the crowded images of her own childhood and adolescence. / And so this is a classic revelation plot, with child sexual abuse at the heart of its matter. Again, familiar, but in her treatment of the abuse theme Enright takes several unexpected tacks, pursuing, often with characteristic explicitness, the varied encounters which make up the complex fabric of human sexuality. Veronica’s flagging sexual relationship with her husband or erotic memories of her American lover are only surface components of a narrative tracking at a deeper level the sexualised nature of everyday childhood encounters; the occasion, for example, when a bus driver pushed his large stomach against her, “the surprising tautness and bounce of it, as it he jabbed it at my face with its leading white button”, or the time she was made to reach under her grandmother’s skirt to fasten sagging stockings to an ancient corset. / The psychological twist of the book, meanwhile, lies in the displacement of the abuse narrative from the victim himself, and its careful re-setting around Veronica’s jagged version of her brother’s suffering.’ (... &c.; see full text in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

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Sue Leonard, review of The Gathering, in Books Ireland (Summer 2007): ‘Veronica Hegarty’s life is in flux. From the outside she would seem to have life sussed. Married to Tom, a successful businessman, she lives in a comfortable, middle-class home, and enjoys caring for her daughters Rebecca and Emily. An ex-journalist, her life seems to run smoothly - especially when you compare her with most of her eleven siblings. / Yet she feels unsettled; as if she is acting out a life that is not really her own. And this feeling is sharpened by the death of Liam; Veronica’s closest brother. The Gathering opens when Veronica, having identified Liam’s body in Brighton, calls on her mother back in Dublin to tell her the distressing news. [137] The family, though saddened, seems little surprised that Liam has died by drowning. He is not the first of the Hegarty siblings to have departed the world. A hospital porter, he never achieved his potential, and was taken over by drink. Only Veronica, though, understands why her brother succumbed to his dissolute life. It all comes down to the events of one summer when Liam was nine and she eight. / The action flits from the present to that past as Veronica, as narrator, tries to capture those childhood memories. She recalls some incidents clearly; others drift in time or detail; but it all comes back to Ada, Veronica’s beautiful, serene grandmother. / Veronica imagines moments from Ada’s past in scenes portrayed with deft brush strokes; there’s her first meeting with Charlie, in the foyer of a Dublin hotel; and later a day spent at Fairyhouse racecourse, the details of which, Veronica imagines, led to Ada’s decision to marry Charlie, and not his friend, the debonair Nugent. / While she remembers, Veronica’s life crumbles round her. She feels she can’t sleep with her husband, so she stays up all night, going to bed as Tom wakes. And she starts to drive around visiting places from her childhood in the hope that proximity will jog her memory. / Enright gradually brings past events into focus; and we learn the intricacies of the family’s relationships. They are a remote, weirdly detached bunch; but what their story lacks in emotion it makes up for in human insight. / The author has the knack of taking the ordinary, and showing us truths that we may have noticed in passing but never quite acknowledged. / “There is something wonderful about a death,” Veronica muses. “How everything shuts down, and all the ways you thought you were vital are not even vaguely important. Your husband can feed the kids, he can work the oven, he can find the sausages in the fridge after all!” / We are also introduced to Michael Weiss, Veronica’s teenage lover and the man she, perhaps, might have married. The novel hinges on such hypothesis. It examines the juxtaposition between desire and love, and looks at relationships in an oddly detached manner. / Comparing herself to her brother Ernest, a priest who lost his belief, but continued the sham, Veronica thinks she may continue to stay married although she feels herself not to be. / “What might happen if I just carried on as usual, told no one, and decided not to be married after all. And I wondered how many people around me are living with and sleeping with and laughing with their spouses on just this basis, and I wondered how sad they were.” / The novel ends on an ambiguous note, but with a glimmer of hope. And it leaves the reader deep in thought, and greaeful for this unusual view of a dysfunctional family reunited at a time of stress.’ (pp.137-38.)

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Gregory Carr, Read Ireland book notice - The Gathering (2007): The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn’t the drink that killed him – although that certainly helped – it was what happened to him as a boy in his grandmother’s house, in the winter of 1968. His sister Veronica was there then, as she is now: keeping the dead man company, just for another little while. / The Gathering is a family epic, condensed and clarified through the remarkable lens of Anne Enright’s unblinking eye. It is also a sexual history: tracing the line of hurt and redemption through three generations – starting with the grandmother, Ada Merriman – showing how memories warp and family secrets fester. This is a novel about love and disappointment, about thwarted lust and limitless desire, and how our fate is written in the body, not in the stars. / The Gathering sends fresh blood through the Irish literary tradition, combining the lyricism of the old with the shock of the new. As in all Anne Enright’s work, fiction and non-fiction, this is a book of daring, wit and insight: her distinctive intelligence twisting the world a fraction, and giving it back to us in a new and unforgettable light. [See ReadIreland website, online; accessed 09.03.2008.]

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A. L. Kennedy, ‘The Din Within’, review of The Gathering by Anne Enright, in The Guardian (28 April 2007): ‘[...] The Gathering, her fourth novel, is ostensibly a simple thing. The plot, shaped around a protagonist who undergoes a shock, is knocked back physically and psychologically into past times and past places. Then comes the conclusion, where present and future are reformed in the light of histories that are suddenly newly perceived. Here Veronica Hegarty loses her already lost, lovely alcoholic brother Liam. His funeral sinks her back into the gathered ranks of her rambling Irish family - the dysfunctional, drinking, blue-eyed Hegartys. Meanwhile, Liam’s ghost hounds her out through memories and fantasies: her apparently tidy existence, her husband and children seeming more distant with each thought. / And, of course, The Gathering isn’t a simple thing at all - it’s a genuine attempt to stare down both love and death, to anatomise their pains and fears and peculiar pleasures. At which point I ought to talk about the sheer physicality of Enright’s writing. [...] Sex - for Enright, as for John Banville - is a kind of gleefully appalling slapstick that dogs humanity and leaves it betrayed. This is a world where fidelity is impossible and sex is absurd, but love is forever, like a scar. And it isn’t only sex that works on the body - death is both a comfort and a rapist. The fear and bewilderment it brings the living echo through flesh, and Enright is unflinching as she documents all the physical symptoms of emotion and memory. Bones and words always lurk under the skin, equally stark and disturbing. / Yet Enright’s work is neither mindless nor inhuman; it is clearly the product of a remarkable intelligence, combined with a gift for observation and deduction. She has uncovered the truth that sometimes our great adventures are interior. When someone we love dies, leaves, the action is elsewhere. That battle with cancer, that dramatic crash, that bolt from the blue - it’s all scripted for someone else. And yet still we insist on being changed, moved, reshaped. It is our nature, the nature Enright charts. Because narratives run on all kinds of levels. To misunderstand this is to reduce our stories to a kind of dull pornography - actions performed without emotion, without depth, by people we will never know and for whom we feel nothing. For Enright, the body, the mind, the will, the world, the heart - all work upon each other in a terrible, wonderful roar of life.’ (See full text in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

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Adam Mars-Jones, ‘Intimate Relations’, review of The Gathering, in The Observer (6 May 2007): ‘[...] This is a story of family dysfunction, made distinctive by an exhilarating bleakness of tone. There is no sentimentality here, and no quirkiness. Enright may use local words like “bocketty” and “gobdaw’, but her writing is guaranteed to be blarney-free. The humour in it is very close to pain. Veronica is clever, but she knows that cleverness isn’t a solution to anything in itself. Aren’t all the Hegartys clever? “Clever, which is to say unredeemed; earning more or less money than the next person and liable to smart remarks.” Yet she’s strangely good company even at her most negative. / Anne Enright has all she needs in terms of imagination and technique and she’s a tremendous phrase-maker. All that I would timidly offer her is a bouquet of “as ifs” with which to vary her “likes’. The two constructions are usefully different. They point up different structures. In fact they’re like the points on a railway line, sending the sense along one route or the other. When she writes that Veronica’s husband is asleep with “a straining smile at the edge of his eyes, like what he sees in the centre of his blind forehead is so convincing, and fleeting, and lovely ...’, “as if” instead of “like” would announce in advance that the sentence won’t end with “forehead’, which (grammatically) it might as things stand. But then I like to play Fantasy Creative Writing Class, in the way more red-blooded people play Fantasy Football. I’m always thinking of a class where all the students have genius and I get the credit.’ (See full text in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

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Ryan Williams, ‘Anne Enright Growing Backwards’ [blog] - on Yesterday’s Weather (2008): ‘[...] Old and new alike, her stories offer emotionally intense character studies wrapped in dense, funny, sensuous, and tightly-coiled prose. But while many of the earlier stories read as little more than tedious exercises in structure or heavy-handed extensions of dubious metaphors (a woman through handbags in “(She Owns) Every Thing,” a bingo player who sees the world through numbers in “Luck Be a Lady,” &c.), Enright’s newer work adds an invaluable new element: real, substantial insight into the way real people actually think and feel, coupled with an ability to bring those thoughts and emotions to life on the page. In “Honey,” a woman on a business trip debates having an affair with a coworker, but finds herself instead stunned and opened up to the world by an encounter with bees in a garden. Her restless, uncertain desire feels true to life, and when she turns him down, it’s because she realizes that her desire has nothing to do with him at all: “It was like she could fuck anything: the Killarney lakes and the sky that ran over them, the posh hotels with wafflecloth robes, and the pink scent of a rose that showed grey in the darkness, and the whole lovely month of May.” In “Here’s To Love,” an older woman struggles to understand why she loves her husband, and ultimately decides that the question doesn’t matter nearly as much to her as it might to the old boyfriend who she meets in Paris. The opening paragraph of “The Cruise,” made me laugh out loud, but when I re-read it (immediately after reaching the story’s end), it took on an entirely different meaning: a good joke transformed into a moving meditation on death, and on what we can hope to get out of life before we die.’ (See online; accessed 02.08.2011.)

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Hermione Lee, review of The Forgotten Waltz, in The Guardian (Sat. 20 April 2011): ‘“I just can’t believe it. That all you have to do is sleep with somebody and get caught and you never have to see your in-laws again. Ever. Pfffft! Gone. It’s the nearest thing to magic I have yet found.” That’s the Anne Enright voice all right – wry, disabused, reckless, candid, funny. The hardened, suffering speakers in her recent fine story collection, Taking Pictures, use this tone; the grim damage of her Booker-winning The Gathering is energised by all that darkly comic unflinchingness. [...] The story is, almost, an ordinary one. A 34-year-old married woman – sexy, energetic and independent-minded – falls in love with an attractive married man she meets at her sister’s house. He has a daughter, who seems a bit odd. The affair goes through all the predictable stages: a drunken one-night seduction in a foreign hotel, a clandestine office romance, discovery and family recriminations, the romantic affair turning into a bickering second marriage, the ultimate loneliness of the woman. As always, Enright is good at that, as she is at sexual desire, the “copulatory crackle in the air” between the two lovers. And she turns a sharp eye, and ear, on the cliches of illicit love (“We don’t really know each other”) and of marital accusations: “You never. I always. The thing about you is.” The lover turns out to be a serial adulterer and not much of a person, after all, and that blank at the centre makes this a thinner book than The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch or The Gathering. [...] The novel is told in retrospect from the end-point of the snow-bound winter of 2009, when Dublin has ground to a halt and the streets are empty and blanketed, as if in a faint tribute to the end of Joyce’s great story of love, loss, family and nation, “The Dead”: “snow was general all over Ireland”. This Ireland of the 2000s is dead, too: the bubble has burst, the boom is over, all the buying has stopped. “We listen to it ... the rumour of money withering out of the walls and floors and out of the granite kitchen countertops, turning them back to bricks and rubbles and stone.” Gina tells her lover, of their affair, that “the whole project is about failure. It has failure built in.” The parallels between different forms of expensive wastage are not laboured, but are made plain.’ (See full text in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

Miranda Popkey, ‘Anne Enright on The Forgotten Waltz’ [interview], in The Paris Review (25 Oct. 2011), cites Richard Yates as model for The Forgotten Waltz. ‘[...] the relationship to the reader is quite kinetic, in that the reader has a choice of three books: one is about a woman who falls in love; the second is about a woman who falls in love catastrophically because that is what love is; and then the third is about an adulteress and a liar and a home-wrecker and a man-stealer.’ (Available online - accessed 14.11.2013.)

John Self, review of The Forgotten Waltz, in John Self’s Shelves, in The Asylum [blog], (9 June 2011): [’Anne Enright’s last novel was published to no fanfare at all (though some noticed it), and went on to win the Booker Prize. I liked The Gathering on balance – just about, I think – but my main issue with it was an unexpected one. Normally I would be dismissive of those who reject a book for not having likeable characters; with The Gathering, it wasn’t so much that I thought the narrator Veronica ridiculous and risible, but that I was fairly sure Enright didn’t intend her to be so. I hadn’t intended to read her next novel until I read wild praise for it from trustworthy sources. / The Forgotten Waltz, in other words, carried expectations both high and low. [...] one woman I know loved the book partly for the “the best portrayal I’ve ever read of a woman having an affair. I recognise it from the inside out.” By the same token, for me the book told me things I didn’t know. [...]. (See full text online; note that Self writes reviews for The Irish Times.)

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Alex Preston, review of The Green Road, in The Guardian (3 May 2015): ‘Anne Enright’s first novels were whimsical, mannered, driven by plot devices that might have come from the discarded first drafts of the magic realists. They were redeemed by her style – always precise and deft and lyrical. A brief foray into non-fiction, 2004’s Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, seemed to mark a turning point for Enright, and the Man Booker Prize-winning The Gathering (2007) moved away from the Angela Carter-inspired early work to give a stunning present-day portrait of a family in mourning. The Forgotten Waltz(2011), about the fallout from an affair, cemented her reputation as the leading chronicler of contemporary Irish life (without quite reaching the heights of its predecessor). Now we have The Green Road, which is very much of a part with her previous two novels, dealing with the shabby materialism of the Celtic tiger generation, with the Irish diaspora, with family. / Enright often feels as if she’s playing with our expectations of what an Irish novel should do – the boxes that must be ticked in order to satisfy some Anglo-American dream of Ireland. She writes about the stereotypical Irish family in a fine passage in The Gathering: “There is always a drunk. There is always someone who has been interfered with, as a child. There is always a colossal success, with several houses in various countries to which no one is ever invited. There is a mysterious sister. These are just trends, of course, and, like trends, they shift. Because our families contain everything and, late at night, everything makes sense. We pity our mothers, what they had to put up with in bed or in the kitchen, and we hate them or we worship them, but we always cry for them.” [...] In many ways, The Green Road works best if we think of it as a series of short stories (Enright is fêted in the shorter form). The section about Dan in New York stands on its own as a masterful evocation of time and place – the moment I finished the novel, I went back and re-immersed myself in the art and the sex and the melancholy of Dan’s early life. Emmet’s story in Mali is as intricate, sparse and dark as anything in JM Coetzee. Hanna’s childhood and her later breakdown tread that line of Irish literary cliche with delicious knowingness, giving us the sense of an author in full control of the layers of meaning in her work. The reunion at the end of the novel, and the dramatic disappearance that shuttles us through the final pages, feel like unnecessary McGuffins, put there to appease the conventions of plot when the book is far more interesting, and more moving, when Enright’s characters are allowed to step freely through the pages: battered, beautiful, dancing to the habitual music of Enright’s exquisite style.’ (See full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

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Anthony Cummins, review of The Green Road, in The Telegraph (13 May 2015; repub. 29 July 2015): ‘[...] The Forgotten Waltz used Ford Madox Ford’s 1915 adultery tale The Good Soldier as a model. Here the touchstone might be Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections (2001). Where that novel wove together decades of back story in the run-up to a family’s last Christmas, The Green Road is more fragmented. The novel’s structure of discrete short stories shows the Madigan children as satellites out of sync. When their mother goes missing after roaming the coast alone on Christmas night, her children form a search party, groping in the dark, adrift from her and each other. It’s a climax that works as drama and symbol. / Enright withholds closure but doesn’t skimp on pleasure. Barely a page goes by without a striking phrase or insight. She convinces you of her setting, whether it’s west Africa or the East Village. The sons’ stories, unfolding farther afield, are story-driven; the energy in the daughters’ stories comes from the texture of experience (a supermarket run; half-cut on vodka). / Enright’s gifts of observation and imagination can lull you into overlooking how radical she is formally. She has said that “the unknowability of one human being to another” is “an endless subject for novelists”. If one of the pitfalls for any realist novel is the sense that the characters are reverse-engineered to serve an authorial design, Enright’s characters have a solidity for not being explained to every last fibre of their being. / You could see The Green Road as virtuosic but inconsequential, but in its loose ends is a bold and brilliant way to approach the sadness of a family that fails to connect. [...]’ (See full-text version in RICORSO Library, “Criticism > Reviews”, via index, or direct.)

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Quotations
The Pleasures of Eliza Lynch (2002): ‘I settle myself into my toilette, and I want to cry again, not [44] because my face is so lumpy but because of the cheap cake of rouge I am using - a little tin box, with a picture of the tower at Glendalough on the lid. It belonged to my sister once, but did not suit her. I think it is the only thing I have about me from Ireland. There is also a little brush and some maschara from Algeria. My bag of paints is a sad museum. […] / I am the daughter of a doctor. My mother came from a naval family, and her brother fought with Nelson’s fleet. There are certificates for all this, and letters, in three or four different countries. I was married in Kent at the age of fifteen to a man called M. Quatrefages who served with the French forces in Algeria. This marriage was illegal under French law, because of my tender age, but legal in England. I am the daughter of a doctor who specialised in rheumatic disorders at -the spa town of Mallow in the Co. Cork. My mother suffered herself from bad health, and took the waters there, and we lived nearby for some years. My sister, Corinne, caught the fancy of that famous Italian musician Tamburini, and lives with him, is married to him now in Paris. Where I joined her, after leaving a cruel husband, a certain M. Quatrefages, who took advantage of my tender years to spirit me away to Kent and marry me there. This marriage is still valid in England, much to my consternation. I have met in my time the musician Berlloz, who much admired my playing, also the Princesse Mathilde, who received me kindly, also several members of the Russian nobility, from whom I became estranged on the occasion of the Eastern War.’ (pp.44-45.)

The Pleasures of Eliza Lynch (2002) - cont.: ‘I was born in Ireland and lived there, near the spa town of Mallow, until the age of ten, when the hunger then raging in the countryside obliged us to leave from the harbour at Queenstown. My father is a doctor and my mother is a Schnock (one of the naval Schnocks). After a brief spell in England, I was educated in Bordeaux at Mme Hubert’s school for young girls. I was married in Kent, at a very young age, to the chief veterinarian surgeon of the French forces in Algiers. While there I was much patronised by the Chief of the French Commissariat, M. Raspall, also the Fez of Tunis, who both much admired my playing. My marriage was illegal under the Napoleonic Code, and when this became clear to me I left the deserts of Africa for Paris, where I studied at the conservatoire, and applied for my decree nisi, which was delayed by the complications of English law. When we get to Paraguay I will have Senor Lopez draft a new law. Because I am carrying, or so he tells me, the future of Paraguay.’ (p.46.) Further, ‘I was ten at the time, and thought they were out to kill him [her father]. The crop had failed for a second time, and the bailiffs we were daily expecting turned out always to be the poor at the door, ever more indigent and ghastly-eyed. There was one woman who reached out a purple knuckle to graze my cheek saying, in a soft kind of way, that she would eat me, I was so lovely and so fat. As the countryside weakened with the first, or perhaps the second corpse in the ditch - my father gained sudden strength to pack us up and out of there, off to the ship in the middle of the night, pursued, as I thought, by these skeletons. They were there on the quayside, lurid in the torchlight, beseeching the sides of the ship as they might some squat deity, the God of Escape. It is possible some of them drowned - I was terrified that [207] they might, and there is something sickening, I still find, in the sound of a splash. But I only remember scraps. A face perhaps. Also, the first man’s member I ever saw, nearly as thick as the two legs on either side of it. The man - was he sitting or lying? - he was, at any rate, dying; lazily so, with his hand idling in his flaccid lap. / It seems I am weeping. The tears slip out of my eyes, quite fast and Silent, as though they have nothing to do with me. / We have arrived. / The worst Atlantic crossing you could ever have, or so they said in Buenos Aires: days and weeks of storm, the broken wheel, the men all sick. Most of this beyond my ken, my stupid body wracked by its own storm.’ (i.e., pregnancy; pp.207-08) Note use of Irishism and other references to Irishness: ‘in the shebeen where he found himself, late that night, Milton (or some Indian) said nothing. (p.57); the Irish whore (p.51); La Concubina Irlandesa (p.76); La Lincha (p.52). Also, quotation of Thomas Moore: ‘but O for the touch of a vanished hand, said Whytehead, ‘And the sound of a voice that is still.’ / For a while, won man watched the sky and the other the distant trees. / ‘I used to hit my sisters’, said Whytehead, dreamly. ‘Quite hard. I don’t regret it in the least. It is an odd thing for a man to worry about, isn’t it? But I worry about it ...’ (p.15; the verses are repeated by Dr. Stewart in memory on the death of Whytehead by self-poisoning; p.139.) [Cont.]

 

The Pleasures of Eliza Lynch (2002) - cont.: ‘Eliza’s Irishness, for example - was she really Irish? And what kind of Irish, while we are at it? The right kind, Stewart answered, in the main - her manners seemed bred, not learned. / Though it is possible that she was about as Irish as any woman who wanted to do well in Paris where they thought the Irish sauvage and the English only spinsters. / But why should she doubt it? (His aunt was being most vexing. ) Of course Eliza was Irish. There was the whole business of those “laughing eyes”. There was the embarrassing tendency to politics. An, insistence, almost. [141] there was the frankness of her habits; a sometimes comic sense of cunning, which seemed to wander wherever, and tease at a man, particularly in the privates.’  (pp.141-42.) Further, Dr. Stewart: ‘It would all keep  going, Stewart thought. After I am dead, and after Lopez is dead. The son would  keep it going, while Woman - lovely Woman - kept turning the handle on the world’s dreadful  machine. / We really would be better off without them, he thought; as a breed. Apart from all  the fuss. And I saddened him that a woman’s needs should be so monstrously met, if not by her  lovers then by her sons. That Eve shouild kiss not just Adam but also Cain. That it all keeps  trundling on. It leaves her, and then it comes back to her. (p.196) On last seeing Eliza entering a bank in Edinburgh: (to his daughter): ‘“Yes, my dear, perfectly fine”. Though he was not fine. He wanted a drink. He wanted to get hsi daughter away from Eliza Lynch. He wanted to go home, and scrape his boots, and see his wife.’ (p.230; End.) [On the historical Eliza Lynch, see also Kirkus review in Notes, infra.]

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Making Babies (2004): ‘Pregnancy is as old-fashioned as religion, and it never ends. Every moment of my pregnancy lasted for ever. I was pregnant in the autumn, and I was pregnant In the spring. I was pregnant as summer came. I lived like a plant on the window-sill, taking its time, starting to bud. Nothing could hurry this. There was no technology for it. I was the technology - increasingly stupid, increasingly kind, a mystery to myself, to Martin, and to everyone who passed me by.’ ‘It has to come forward, it, has to shorten, it has to soften, it has to thin out, it has to open. […] In the reaches of the night I try to rernember which ones I have left to do, but I can’t recall the order they come in, and there is always, as I press my counting fingers into the sheet, one that I have forgotten. My cervix, my cervix. Is it soft but not short? Is it soft and thin but not yet forward?’ ‘Of course! It is obvious! I have given birth to a perfect child. I look into the cot and watch for a while. Then I decide that I must have another baby immediately ... How soon can we do the impossible again? It is now the end of June. With a bit of luck we can start again in the middle of August. We could have another again next May … which means I’ll have to write that novel in five months … to rush for publication in late spring, and then, pop, another baby! Perfect. It all fits. I have to ring Martin and tell him this. I pick up the mobile phone … and I dial a three. I cancel and try a six. I cancel again. I can’t remember our phone number.’ ‘I didn’t, I found, wanted die at all, not for a very long time. I have no idea when the shift happened, but it did … I want to burst into my life like a bank robber, shouting at my family and each of my friends, “Nobody is going anywhere, all right? Nobody goes out that door.”’ (Quoted in Maureen Gaffney, review, The Irish Times, 14 Aug. 2004, p.13; Weekend; see also excerpt in The Irish Times, 5 March 2005, Weekend Section.)

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The Gathering (2007): ‘I would like to write down what happened in my grandmother’s house in the summer I was eight or nine, but I am not sure if it really did happen. I need to bear witness to an uncertain event. I feel it roaring inside me - this thing that may not have taken place. I don't even know what name to put on it.’ (The Gatheringl p.1; quoted in Geraldine Meaney, ‘Joyce in Contemporary Irish Culture and Criticism’, in Voices on Joyce, ed. Anne Fogarty and Fran O'Rourke, UCD Press 2015, p.276.)

Further - Veronica finds, when she communes with others similarly afflicted, that all big families are the same:] ‘There is always a drunk. There is always someone who has been interfered with, as a child. There is always a colossal success, with several houses in various countries to which no one is ever invited. There is a mysterious sister’ (Quoted in Adam Mars-Jones, ‘Intimate Relations’, review of The Gathering, in The Observer, 6 May 2007 - as supra.)

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Journalism
LRB Diary” (London Review of Books, Diary [column], 4 Oct. 2007) - on disliking the McCanns: ‘[...] I realise that I am more afraid of murdering my children than I am of losing them to a random act of abduction. I have an unhealthy trust of strangers. Maybe I should believe in myself more, and in the world less, because, despite the fact that I am one of the most dangerous people my children know, I keep them close by me. I don’t let them out of my sight. I shout in the supermarket, from aisle to aisle. I do this not just because some dark and nameless event will overtake them before the checkout, but also because they are not yet competent in the world. You see? I am the very opposite of the McCanns. / Distancing yourself from the McCanns is a recent but potent form of magic. It keeps our children safe. Disliking the McCanns is an international sport. You might think the comments on the internet are filled with hatred, but hate pulls the object close; what I see instead is dislike – an uneasy, unsettled, relentlessly petty emotion. It is not that we blame them – if they can be judged, then they can also be forgiven. No, we just dislike them for whatever it is that nags at us. We do not forgive them the stupid stuff, like wearing ribbons, or going jogging the next day, or holding hands on the way into Mass. / I disliked the McCanns earlier than most people (I’m not proud of it). I thought I was angry with them for leaving their children alone. In fact, I was angry at their failure to accept that their daughter was probably dead. I wanted them to grieve, which is to say to go away. In this, I am as bad as people who complain that “she does not cry.” [...]’ (See full-text version - as attached.)

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LRB Diary” (London Review of Books, Diary [column], 4 Oct. 2007) - on the Irish recession: ‘[...] One of the strangest feelings, living through a housing boom, is that you are rich or poor not because of the money you earn, but the year you started earning it. It is not a question of effort, but of luck. This was part of the impotence and panic that drove Irish people to buy overvalued houses towards the end of the boom; it was the feeling that we were running up a down escalator and had to grab hold of whatever we could, to stop being swept away. There is very little pleasure in buying a house. Perhaps this fact is not mentioned often enough. For a while, house auctions were a kind of blood sport in South Dublin. There were women who spent their lives going to them, to get high on the smell of money and other people’s pain. It was like living in a casino: the insanity of the sums involved; that blank, ecstatic misery on the faces of the people who won. / Telling the truth was, in the circumstances, not just boring, it was also unlucky, hexed, taboo. It might even be unclean. Careless talk costs jobs. If the bubble burst it would be your fault for calling it a bubble, because, at the end of the day, it’s not an economy, it’s a mood. / I am not a Freudian about this money shit, especially these days when it is so notional, so rarely handled or seen. I do think money is a magical substance, which makes the phrase “frozen desire” a little too … frozen, for me. [...]’ (See full-text version - as attached.)

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LRB Diary” (London Review of Books, Diary [column], 28 Jan. 2010) - on Iris Robinson: ‘[...] Being mad in Northern Ireland is different from being mad in any other place. The Robinsons come from a community in which people talk to God and He talks right back to them. “I have forgiven her,” said Peter Robinson. “More important, I know that she has sought and received God’s forgiveness.” These communications from God can be fairly abstract, they can be politically convenient, they seldom involve what the rest of the world call auditory hallucinations, but there is no doubt that the sense of conviction they carry can be overwhelming. / There is also a particular flavour to Northern Irish paranoia. A system of spies, counterspies and informers was in place in the province from the 1970s; British intelligence listened, watched, misinformed. They checked sheets for sperm or explosives with the help of the Four Square Laundry van. Annoyed at long-standing rumours that her husband beat her, Iris has said that “this malicious lie was started by the [British] government in an attempt to blacken Peter’s name when he was protesting at the Anglo-Irish Agreement. It took root because I was in hospital 17 times during that period with gynaecological problems.” This is a lot to unpack. It may all even be true. Slightly more strange is her claim that Peter’s steak was laced with rat poison when they ate in a restaurant on the outskirts of Belfast which had “a very nationalist staff’. But then, who’s to say? The loyalist community could trust neither their Catholic neighbours nor the British government to whose queen they professed such shouting, undying and possibly unwanted loyalty. / It is interesting in this context to look at the DUP’s obsession with sodomy, not the activity perhaps so much as the word; one that is to be said out loud, without fear; one that should be repeated, shouted, written down for all to see. Paisley was always a great man for naming and shaming. “I denounce you as the Antichrist,” he shouted, in the European Parliament, at Pope John Paul II. “Harlot’ was also a favourite, but this was rarely applied to an actual woman, being reserved for the Church of Rome. The same applied to “whore’, as in, “of Babylon’. The purity, in this uncracked patriarchy, of their own women, was a given; what they had to guard against were the sins of men. In 1977 Paisley added to the gaiety of several nations when he was shown on the news walking around with a placard that said “Save Ulster from Sodomy’. His campaign was a response to the liberalising laws of Westminster, which were threatening to leave this entrenched culture behind. Sodomy, in 1977, symbolised everything. Betrayal. Isolation. The future. [...]’ (See full-text version - as attached.)

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LRB Diary” (London Review of Books, Diary [column], (17 Feb. 2011) - on Angela Carter: ‘I met Angela Carter in the spring of 1987 when I was a student and she a tutor on the MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. My work had over the course of the previous winter gone from bad to worse. I was 24, I had no idea how to live in the world, let alone write about it; and the self who was supposed to produce some kind of narrative by the end of the year seemed increasingly fugitive and fragmented. The whole business of being Irish in England seemed to me old-fashioned and, in tiny ways, ghastly. People thought I was amusing, in an Irish sort of way: and I suppose I was. My work was not going well. I did not know why. It was not that I was distressed – I had often written when in distress. In fact a little breaking open, a little falling apart, a tincture of four in the morning, used to work quite well for me. Emotion was not the problem, it was the fact that I could not make the shift from emotion to story, or not on the required scale. I don’t know if stories do come from feeling – perhaps it just feels that way – but the inability to write is certainly an emotional state. This shift from feeling to fiction is the reason I still need, rather than just want, to write. And the more you need something, as I discovered in that room in East Anglia, the harder it is to get. I worked all the time, but inspiration did not strike. There was no shaft of light. If the words came from anywhere, it was from a point over my left shoulder, like a taunt. I was 24. I do not think that I was entirely well.’ (See full-text version attached.)

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LRB Diary” (London Review of Books, Diary [column], 21 Sept. 2017) - ‘[...] There have been, in my lifetime, so many arguments about whether women are any good, as writers, whether they could ever be considered great, as writers, most of them started by angry old men. Women found these arguments - so casually made - confusing, undermining and worth disproving. A vast amount of work was undertaken, some of it by women in Irish universities, in order to do so. It always seemed to me a double burden that women should suffer the discrimination and do all the work to fix it. (Besides, who are you trying to convince?) / In 1991, the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing was published and, as everyone knows, they (mostly) forgot to put any women in there. I was just starting out as a writer and I would like to say that I was outraged, but I just felt contempt for the editors involved. I also felt a great sense of freedom. If you aren’t going to be heard, then you can say what you like. This unmasking of false authority gave me a sense of childish delight, and in the decade or so that followed I noted gleefully every time I was the only woman on the panel, every time I was interrupted on a panel, every time I was asked to go on a panel or read or speak “because they had no women”, because “they needed a woman”, because “they forgot to get any women” or the more benign iterations of “because they would love to hear a female voice”. I ran a private competition for “worst introduction from an Irish male academic”; a close-run race, definitively won by a distinguished professor who was so drunk as to be incomprehensible, except for the phrase “we must forgive her for writing well.” / You never hear this guff from other writers, who are mostly interested in each others” sentences: the problem was always in the public realm, not on the shared privacy of the page. I was included in literary conversations in order to discuss women’s exclusion from these conversations, and this didn’t happen outside Ireland, or at least not to me. I am happy to read both men and women, so I found it hard to explain an attitude I did not share. Nor did I know what these people wanted me to be. I realised that when they said “woman” they meant something that was hidden - from me, certainly, but mostly from themselves. It was extremely tiresome. To be constantly reminded that you are female is to be pushed back into your body, over and over, when, as a writer, you function not as a body, but as a voice.’

Further: ‘The country where I grew up in the 1970s was insular and impoverished, and the idea of greatness was very important to us. Books were not just an escape from the present, difficult moment, their greatness was a talisman against shame. The fact that Ulysses, the greatest of them all, also glories in the transgressive and the filthy kept the ironies in motion. In order to become properly iconised, as he was on the Irish Writers poster, it was necessary that Joyce be dead. An awareness of writers” gravesites, the impulse to build statues and monuments, all of this was useful when it came to the national work of building a better past for ourselves. The deadness of the writer is especially interesting because they feel so alive on the page: this makes their books a talisman not just against shame but also against mortality. Which makes me wonder -and I have no answer to this - whether women will ever seem dead in the same way.’ (See full-text version - as attached.)

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The Irish Short Story’, in The Guardian (7 Nov. 2010): ‘I first read O’Connor when I was maybe 10, maybe 12 years of age. I chose his story “The Mad Lomasneys” for the way it stayed with me, quietly, ever since. If you wonder whether this is the selection of a 12-year-old, I admit she is certainly here too, that the reason the short story remains an important form for Irish writers of my generation is because the work of O’Connor and O’Faoláin and Mary Lavin were commonly found on Irish bookshelves, alongside, in my own house, “The Irish Republic” by the nationalist historian Dorothy Macardle, and Three to Get Married by the Rev Fulton J. Sheen [Guardian err. for Canon Patrick Sheehan] (the third in question, I was disappointed to discover, being God). / Our sensibilities were shaped by the fine choices of Professor Augustine Martin, who set the stories for the school curriculum, among them “The Road to the Shore”, a story that revealed as much to me about aesthetic possibilities and satisfactions as it did about nuns. We were taught French by reading Maupassant and German through the stories of Siegfried Lenz, though if the short story is a national form it did not seem to flourish in the national language of Irish, where all the excitement – for me at least – was in poetry. The fact remains that I grew up with the idea that short stories were lovely and interesting and useful things, in the way the work of Macardle and Sheen was not. / This may all be very “submerged” of me, but that is to patronise my younger self. I still find the modesty of the form attractive and right. How important is it to be “important” as a writer? The desire to claim a larger authority can provoke work, or it can ruin it. In fact, writers claim different kinds of authority: these days a concentration on the short story form is taken as a sign of writerly purity rather than novelistic incompetence, though it still does not pay the bills. (This was not always the case. O’Faoláin lamented the popularity of the form which “is being vulgarised by commercialisation”. Readers and editors,” he writes, “must often feel discouraged.”)’ [Cont.]

The Irish Short Story’, in The Guardian (7 Nov. 2010) - cont.: ‘My romantic idea of Ireland did not survive the killings in the north, and the realisation, in the 80s, that Irish women were considered far too lovely for contraception: it foundered, you might say, between Dorothy Macardle, and Canon Sheen [recte Sheehan]. Perhaps as a result, I found it difficult to lose myself in the dream that was the recent economic boom. My romantic idea of the writer, meanwhile, did not survive the shift into motherhood – I might have felt lonely and wonderful, but with small children, I just never got the time. But though I am not a romantic, I am quite passionate about the whole business of being an Irish writer. O’Faoláin was right: we are great contrarians. When there is much rubbish talked about a country, when the air is full of large ideas about what we are, or what we are not, then the writer offers truths that are delightful and small. We write against our own foolishness, not anyone else’s. In which case the short story is as good a place as any other to keep things real.’ (See full-text version, attached; - together with a variant version from The Irish Times.)

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Feel my pain: ‘There are many things I can’t do. [...]’ - writers can be their own worst critics [... &c]’ - Anne Enright (contrib., with Geoff Dyer, Joseph O’Neill, and Ruth Padel], in The Irish Times (9 March 2013), Weekend Review: ‘[...] I detest my use of “Because” to open a sentence that is at a knight’s move to the previous one, where causation is not linear or, strictly speaking, “causation” at all, at all. I am tormented by my need for commas, writing, as I do, sentences that are endlessly qualified, internally undermined, self-contradictory; sentences that are put out of their misery by a fake full stop. Only to be taken up again in a new line. In fact most of my sentences are paragraphs that have been broken up in the interests of looking respectable. I wish I could stop this. I wish I could stop tripping the rhythm with short sharp sentences and with sentence fragments. I wish I could stop dancing and just go for a walk. [...] Flaubert spent much time taking metaphors out of his work; he said it was like picking lice. That’s what I do all day, only with typographical lice. I take the commas out, and put them back in, and take them out again. And after two or three years of this, I notice I have written the same story yet again. It is often the story of Orpheus and Eurydice: this when I am sure I am doing something entirely new. I really puzzle it out each time; I can’t find my way through. I reach for the shape of Proteus or King Lear, and feel such a fool for doing all that work when I should have known it was the same thing, all along, it was the same thing, after all ...’ (p.9.)

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Reviews
Will Self: review of Dorian by Self, in The Irish Times (23 Nov. 2002), “Weekend”: ‘When people ask if anything good came out of AIDS, you can always say at least Will Self got a book out of it. No one seems to be much shocked by Dorian, so I thought I might oblige. There is nothing worse than writing a shocking, intentionally crass book, only to have people praise it for its wit - this, when even the wit is a deliberately degraded version of the original. Dorian apes rather than imitates The Picture of Dorian Gray: a book that is drenched in shame, made lovely by it, has produced a pup that is entirely shameless; that is a paean to shamelessness. Poor Oscar. They always said he did dirty things, and now here they are.’ Further: ‘[…] the characters are all so busy injecting themselves with dirty needles that you wonder why Self has them bother with sodomy at all – surely that is to open an already open window? – also, why do they have to be infected by a black rent boy addict with scabby legs, when they could just as likely have got the virus from a tanned Californian accountant?’ Enright concedes that ‘there is the considerable charm of a narrative whose awfulness is a plea for your indulgence, complicity, or even forgiveness’ but condemns the resort to a ‘twist […] that serves as an escape hatch for the author’ on the grounds: ‘If you want to be awful, be awful.’

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A. M. Holmes: review of The Mistress’s Daughter [memoir] by Holmes, in The Irish Times (2 June 2007), “Weekend”: ‘According to Richard Ellman[n], one of James Joyce’s sisters stayed with him in Paris, on her way from Ireland back to her home in Trieste. / Before she arrived, Joyce heard that her husband in Trieste had just shot himself. / The Joyce family spent the weekend with her as planned, without breaking this unpleasant news, and then set her on a train to be met by her brother, Stanislaus, wearing a black armband, at her destination. I used to think of this story as a measure of the Joyce family narcissism, but it is perhaps also about Irish people’s attitude to information - that your business is nobody’s business, not even your own. Especially not your own. Perhaps it was the same mixture of shame and self-righteousness that gave us the sadism of Irish institutional life; the belief that people do not deserve to be told what they think they need to know. To withhold information is to withhold love; most keenly and especially when it is done “for your own good”. AM Homes’s electrifying memoir is, from the outset, about information. [...]’

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Genius: Review of A Girl is a Half-made Thing, by Eimar McBride, in The Guardian (20 Sept. 2013): ‘“Genius” was always a term that contained arguments about art and order and the relationship of the writer to society – whether he (there were no female contenders) was sacrifice or magus, mad artist or Great Novelist. There may be another argument here, if we had time to unpack it, about modernism and the rise of the middle classes. These days the middle classes are in decline and the term has gone out of fashion, though we still retain the sense of the genius as someone who is brilliantly “beyond”; who breaks the rules and plays the edge.’ [See full-text copy in Ricorso Library - via index or attached.]

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Prefaces
Yesterday’s Weather (NY 2008; London 2008) - Introduction:

‘It is odd, but only to me, to read of the bitterness that exists between female friends, when my own girlfriends are so generous and important to me. These stories are not written by the person who has lived my life and made the best of it, they are written by people I might have been but decided against ….I discovered, when I started to look at them again, that I had forgotten the content of some of these pieces. What I remembered, with great clarity, was their shape….What I seem to be saying—a little to my own surprise - is that a person may change, but the writer endures.’ (Quoted in book notice at Good Readings Wordpress - online; accessed 02.08.2011.)

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References
Katie Donovan, A. N. Jeffares & Brendan Kennelly, eds., Ireland’s Women (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994) contains extract [Portable Virgin].

[ There is a frequently-updated “Anne Enright” Wikipedia page.]

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Notes
Sundry angels: Anne Enright reads ‘Men and Angels’, BBC3 NI (7 Jan. 1997), a collage in three parts which includes a reference to Sir Charles Brewster, the inventor of kaleidoscopes, and his no-name wife who was a dg. of James Macpherson; also, a dg. of a deaf mother who (i.e., the dg.) translates sounds into sculpture, and the wife of the inventor of ‘Huegyns Chain’, using his wife’s wedding ring as one the pulling end of the weighting system.

The Portable Virgin (1991) - A collection of short stories that combines the formal with the miraculous, such as the film editor who edits his life; includes various betrayed and traitorous women whose struggles are reinterpreted using a repertoire of fancy and metaphor. (COPAC.)

What are You Like? (2000) Bert Delahunty, deprived of his wife through death in childbirth, takes Maria, one of the twins sisters, to the family home in Dublin while the other, Marie, is renamed Rose and grows up in Surrey; in New York the twenty-year-old Maria falls for Anton, a Czechoslovakian, who was one of a procession of boys fostered by Rose’s adopted parents; and with whom he had enjoyed a pre-pubescent relationship; eventually Rose walks into the clothes store in Dublin where Maria works.

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The Pleasures of Eliza Lynch (2002): ‘In 1854, the infamous Irishwoman Eliza Lynch met Francisco Solano Lopez, heir to the wealth of Paraguay, and, pregnant with his child, escaped with him from the streets of Paris and life as a prostitute to the strange cruel land of South America, where the two of them gained and abused power, waged war indiscriminately and were led by their recklessness and ruthlessness to a horrible downfall. Enright tells this remarkable true story through the voice of Eliza herself, as she travels down the river Parana to Asuncion for the first time, and that of Dr. Stewart, a man charmed and repelled by Eliza’s charismatic will, who looks back on the whole period of her reign, countering Eliza’s often untrustworthy tales and giving a darker picture of events. The resulting novel is a story of obsession and ownership, of love triangles and squares, of deception and wilful ignorance. The characters’ influence on each other, the madness of pregnancy, lust, jealousy, warfare and revenge are fleshed out in bold language and startling imagery, and the notion of history as a circular rather than linear progress runs throughout. A great achievement.’ (Kirkus UK; given in COPAC online - 25.03.2010.)

The Gathering (2007): The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan - Midge, Bea, Ernest, Stevie, Ita, Mossie, Liam, Veronica, Kitty, Alice and the twins, Ivor and Jem - gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn’t the drink that killed him - although that certainly helped - it was what happened to him as a boy in his grandmother’s house, in the winter of 1968. The Gathering is a novel about love and disappointment, about thwarted lust and limitless desire, and how our fate is written in the body, not in the stars. Veronica is the narrator, aged 39 at the time of writing. (Chiefly from publisher’s notice; given in COPAC online - 25.03.2010.)

Taking Pictures (2008): ‘The stories in Taking Pictures are snapshots of the body in trouble: in denial, in extremis, in love. Mapping the messy connections between people - and their failures to connect - the characters are captured in the grainy texture of real life: freshly palpable, sensuous and deeply flawed. From Dublin to Venice, from an American college dorm to a holiday caravan in France, these are stories about women stirred, bothered, or fascinated by men they cannot understand, or understand too well. Enright’s women are haunted by children, and by the ghosts of the lives they might have led - lit by new flames, old flames, and flames that are guttering out.A woman’s one night stand is illuminated by dreams of a young boy on a cliff road, another’s is thwarted by a swarm of somnolent bees. A pregnant woman is stuck in a slow lift with a tactile American stranger, a naked mother changes a nappy in a hotel bedroom, and waits for her husband to come back from the bar. These are sharp, vivid stories of loss and yearning, of surrender to responsibilities or to unexpected delight; all share the unsettling, dislocated reality, the subversive wit and awkward tenderness that have marked Anne Enright as one of our most thrillingly gifted writers.’ (Publisher’s notice; given in COPAC online - 25.03.2010.)

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Yesterday’s Weather (2009) - stories, incl. those from her Taking Pictures; a series of deeply moving stories about women stirred, bothered, or fascinated by men they cannot understand, or understand too well; characters haunted by the ghosts of the lives they might have led - lit by new flames, old flames, and flames that are guttering out; a woman’s one-night stand illuminated by dreams of a young boy on a cliff road; another’s is thwarted by an swarm of somnolent bees; a pregnant woman is stuck in a slow lift with a tactile American stranger; a naked mother changes a nappy in a hotel bedroom waiting for her husband to come back from the bar; sharp, vivid tales of loss and yearning, of surrender to responsibilities or to unexpected delight; all share the unsettling, dislocated reality, the subversive wit and awkward tenderness that have marked Anne Enright as one of our most thrillingly gifted writers. (Publisher’s notice; given in COPAC online - 15.11.2010.)

The Last Waltz (2011): Gina Monihan, a young woman in boom-time Dublin, has an affair with a serial adulterer with a troubled daughter in a story modelled on Ford Maddox Ford's The Good Soldier and which which cast light on the era of property speculation and the atmosphere of all-consuming desire. It tells the stories of each, in date-stamped sections, starting with Dan who becomes a priest - causing his mother Rosaleen to take to her to bed - and turns up on the NY gay scene in the 1990s. Constance goes from breast-feeding to breast-cancer, and Emmet is in in Mali as an NGO worker in 2002. Hana is a stalled actress and new mother in Dublin, 2005.

Eliza Lynch: b. Cork, 1835; emig. to Paris, with family, as a child; m. French Army vet at 14; stationed in Algiers; returned to Paris alone, aetat. 16; became courtesan; affair with Don Francisco Solano Lopez, eldest son of Paraguay president; travelled with him to Paraguay, 1855; four sons; Lopez and his eldest son killed in battle by Brazilians and reputedly buried by Lynch with her own hands, 1870; returned to Europe; d. in poverty, Paris; bur. Cimetière Père Lachase, but repatriated to Paraguay in the 1930s. (See Books Ireland, October 2002, pp.235-36; interview with Anne Enright.) See further under Eliza Lynch, q.v.

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Booker bookie: The New York Times reports on post-Booker prize in London (NYT, 24 Oct. 2004): ‘The novelist Anne Enright, one of Mr. Tóibín’s friends who flew from Dublin for the party, was disappointed for another reason: she had placed a $120 bet, at 10-to-1 odds, on his book, The Master, which is about the life of Henry James. The $1,200 winnings, she said, would have assuaged her envy if Mr. Tóibín had won.’

Booker win: ‘Irish novelist Anne Enright last night beat the bookies’ favourites to become the third Irish writer to win the Man Booker Prize, for her novel The Gathering. In what the judges said was a tight decision, Enright’s “powerful, uncomfortable and even at times angry book” saw off the competition from highly fancied works by Ian McEwan and New Zealander Lloyd Jones. Enright let the surprise and delight show on her face as she thanked all those who had kept faith with her down through the years - and told her two children watching the announcement on TV that they could go to bed now. [...]’ (The Irish Times, 17 Oct. 2007 [online].)

Irish Fiction Laureate: Enright was appointed Laureate for Irish Fiction by an Arts Council panel chaired by Paul Muldoon with Paula Meehan, Siobhán Parkinson, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, and Blake Morrison as members. Speaking to an Irish Times reporter about the forthcoming award - actually announced on 29 January 2015 - Muldoon said: ‘We want a writer who will be a vehicle for the word. Their work should be to the fore nationally and internationally, because they will be an ambassador not only for Irish writing in this country, but beyond Ireland too.’ He added that the chief responsibility of the laureate is to “be the public face for Irish fiction” and that the initiative was also designed to communicate in a “realistic and pragmatic way the nature of writing to the reader” through outreach events and creative writing classes. With Muldoon on the selection panel were  Paula Meehan, Siobhán Parkinson, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, and Blake Morrison. The presiding director of the Arts Council was Orlaith McBride (See Sara Keating, in The Irish Times, 26 Jan. 2015 - online.)

Reading: Anne Enright reads from The Forgotten Waltz at launch of Anne Enright, ed. Claire Bracken & Susan Cahill (IAP 2011), at the Mansion House, Dublin, 24 March 2011.

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