I didn't expect to want to do more than read my weekly short story, but I'm so impressed by Anne Enright's writing, that I've decided I'm going to work on reading all the stories in this collection, Yesterday's Weather. Of course Anne Enright is last year's Booker Prize winner. I've yet to read The Gathering, but it's on my TBR pile and I'm very curious about it. I've read varying responses to it by lots of readers (from very negative to very positive), but I think I'd rather let them fade a bit from memory before I pick up the book. I don't like to think this is true (I prefer to think I always have an open mind), but I'm sure I've got many opinions in mind already about the novel. These stories will be a good way to introduce myself to Enright's style without having any sort of opinion previously formed.
The stories were written over the course of nineteen years and many are drawn from two earlier collections as well as from an anthology of first fictions in 1989 (Enright's first foray into print). In her introduction Enright says she decided to present the stories in reverse chronological order.
"I may be the only one who is laughing, but it is a great and private joke to see myself getting younger--shedding pounds and wrinkles, gaining in innocence and affectation--as the pages turn. The stories have been very lightly edited, not because I did not want to rewrite them, but because I found that I could not. It is impossible to inhabit a former self. You can not be the writer you were in 1989, nor, in a funny way, would you want to be. Still, there is much to regret--the fact that the creative moment is not one that can be repeated, is both a wonderful and a melancholy one."
I like the idea of of reading in reverse order. It will be interesting to see the author writing from experience but then going back in time to when everything was new and she was probably very young and idealistic. I know my perceptions of life were so very different when I was much younger than now after I've had a little bit of experience in life--good and bad.
The first story in the collection, "Until the Girl Died" is told from the perspective of a wife who catches her husband in an infidelity. It would have just been "another lapse" had not the girl died.
"The first time it happened, at a guess, was when the children were small. I was up to my tonsils in nappies and mayhem, falling asleep before my head hit the pillow, fat as a fool. Anyway. They feel 'excluded', fathers; isn't that what the articles say? They have the weight of the world on their shoulders, and after a while--I'm convinced of this--they start to resent you, maybe even hate you. Then, one day, they love you madly again and you realise--slowly, you realise--that they have been up to something. They've had a fright. They've come running back home."
The family is a very average family and perhaps the situation is very average as well. Bu the death of the husband's mistress under tragic circumstances is enough to shake everyone up and out of their complacency.
I'm looking forward to reading more in this collection. I'm going to make a concerted effort to pick this one up regularly, as I've left several others drift. Since it is now officially September I'll be pulling out some collections and stories to read along with my R.I.P. Challenge books as well.