it is all just shopping

Wanted to share this quote with you from Anne Enright‘s The Gathering:

“I love this undertaker.  He has that thing that young people got, sometime after I grew up.  He does not pretend.  He does not judge.  He talks about the caskets in a ‘whatever’ sort of way, like it is all just shopping–the real questions are elsewhere.”

What a lovely, original, and novelistic dichotomy Enright allows to emerge from the personality of this character.

And another reminder to ground myself in what’s important as I scurry around for those last few gifts.

 

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the missing bridge

IMG_0155I’ve been trying to keep my computer issues out of my blog posts; but anyway, yesterday after I got my computer back, I went to Barnes and Noble, ordered a latte, and sat down to write a post. It had been a while (because of the computer issues).

I wanted to write about Anne Enright’s beautiful sentences, which I did, and her use of repetition in those sentences, which I did. I added a picture of her from the internet. Then I worried about copyright laws. I deleted the picture and added one of my own. I added the links I thought were pertinent. Found the article about the way she writes and added that as the opener. It reminded me of a post I’d read recently by Dani Shapiro. I added that link, read it over, and posted.

Great. Went to the grocery store and then home to cook dinner. Later, I pulled up the post to read it over again. Huge gap.

There was something missing between the beginning of the post and the end. What was missing was the part that had been in my head and that had linked the beginning to the end but had never made it to the page. I couldn’t see it at the time because I was too close to it. I took the next step and the bridge appeared. When I backed away, I could see that the bridge was not really there.

I added it and read it over, satisfied.

Just a few minutes ago, after I checked my email and checked in on Twitter, I reread the post again. In the second sentence I’d used a pronoun that could have been referring either to Shapiro or to Enright. Easy fix.

I’m not going to read the post over anymore.

Nevertheless, revising a post after it’s been up for a while makes me kind of crazy. I would like to be able to send an email to each person who had already read it:

Alert. The post you read has been changed. It makes sense now. How about taking another look ?

Thank goodness I can’t do that. It would be very annoying.

Perhaps I shouldn’t change anything once it’s up. Any thoughts on making revisions after you post?

 

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some days

IMG_1046Anne Enright, the author of The Gathering, winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize, just wants to write, but as Dani Shapiro recently pointed out, some days it’s easier than others.

“I need to write,” Enright said. “I go bonkers a bit if I don’t.”

I do as well. Some days I go bonkers even if I do write.

Looking over The Gathering this morning as a way to begin my writing day, I was again struck by the way Enright uses repetition. Of course, one of the “rules” of writing is to avoid repetition. It’s tedious to readers; it can make them go bonkers.

Not, however,when the repetition is intentional and the sound of the sentence rolling off the tongue makes you want to read it over and over again. Take a look at these two beautiful sentences:

“I close my eyes against the warm sunlight and doze beside the dozing stranger on the Brighton train.”

“I was back to school runs and hoovering and ringing other-mothers for other-mother things…”

Enright writes when she can and where she can, with no set hours and no word or page targets. You can take a look at one of the places she writes here.

 

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rough red brick

img_1047The Gathering, by Irish writer Anne Enright, won the 2007 Man Booker Prize.  I read it in April.  In this novel, the narrator describes her family of origin in terms of the labels we acquire, as families and as individuals in a family.

  • “The Hegartys didn’t start kissing until the late eighties and even then we stuck to Christmas.”
  • “There is always one child who is able, not just to look, but also to see.  The quiet one.”
  • “I am the careful one.”

But what I remember most about this book are the different ways Enright uses memory:

This is what I remember, but that can’t be right:

“It must have been the February of 1968.  I was still eight, Liam was nine, and we were going up to ‘say goodbye’ to Charlie.  I think I knew, even at eight, that you can say goodbye all you like, but when someone is dead they’re not going to say anything back….My memory has them all bundled in shawls; Ada’s back ascending in front of us in corseted black taffeta.  But this is 1968: there would have been patterned headscarves and big-buttoned coats that smelt of the rain.”

I don’t remember that so I must not have been there:

“I don’t remember the hospital.  At a guess, Ada did not take us inside.”

I don’t remember that; it’s not what was important:

“I wish I could remember exactly what he said, but conversation doesn’t stick to my memory of Liam.”

Which gives the novel the air of a memoir, of a struggle for the truth.

I’m trying to nail down my first memory.  Every time I bring the hammer up, it seems to slip away.  I think what I remember is green drinks in glasses and rough red brick.