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.

2 thoughts on “rough red brick

  1. Pingback: the forgotten waltz, unreliability, and wine lines | catching days

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