[ Audiobooks ] The Gathering Author Anne Enright – Andy-palmer.co.uk

The Gathering Anne Enright Is A Dazzling Writer Of International Stature And One Of Ireland S Most Singular Voices Now She Delivers The Gathering, A Moving, Evocative Portrait Of A Large Irish Family And A Shot Of Fresh Blood Into The Irish Literary Tradition, Combining The Lyricism Of The Old With The Shock Of The New The Nine Surviving Children Of The Hegarty Clan Are Gathering In Dublin For The Wake Of Their Wayward Brother, Liam, Drowned In The Sea His Sister, Veronica, Collects The Body And Keeps The Dead Man Company, Guarding The Secret She Shares With Him Something That Happened In Their Grandmother S House In The Winter Of As Enright Traces The Line Of Betrayal And Redemption Through Three Generations Her Distinctive Intelligence Twists The World A Fraction And Gives It Back To Us In A New And Unforgettable Light The Gathering Is A Daring, Witty, And Insightful Family Epic, Clarified Through Anne Enright S Unblinking Eye It Is A Novel About Love And Disappointment, About How Memories Warp And Secrets Fester, And How Fate Is Written In The Body, Not In The Stars My full review of this book is larger than Goodreads word count limit Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted here illegally As a book critic, I of course try to steer clear of any information I can about a book I m about to review, until I m done with the book myself and have already made up my mind about what I thought so imagine my surpris My full review of this book is larger than Goodreads word count limit Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted here illegally As a book critic, I of course try to steer clear of any information I can about a book I m about to review, until I m done with the book myself and have already made up my mind about what I thought so imagine my surprise, then, when finally checking out what others had to say about today s book in question, Anne Enright s The Gathering, and seeing so many people call it an unrelentingly dour and grim tale Because I hadn t thought of it that way at all when actually reading it, but rather as witty, lively, and with a precise control over the English language it wasn t until afterwards that I stopped and realized, as the Guardian UK most famously put it, that the book actually concerns an alcoholic suicide, blank eyed paedophile, violent father, vacant mother and irritatingly smug priest, not to mention its scenes of bad sex, self harm, a funless wake and 5am grief stricken howling Oh yeah, that s right, I thought after seeing so many people mention it and how remarkable that it never even occurred to me at the time, how remarkable that the book should be that good No wonder it went on to win what many consider the most prestigious literary award on the planet last year No wonder.Because yes, ladies and gentlemen, the day is finally here after nine months of following the contest, of tracking down and reviewing as many of the nominees as I could, the day has finally arrived to review the winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize, given out each year to what a jury of peers believes is the best novel of the last twelve months to be written by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or Ireland And indeed, Enright is in fact Irish, only the fifth Irish author in the history of the Booker to win the prize and as you can tell from what s already been mentioned, it doesn t get muchstereotypically Irish on the surface than with The Gathering s plotline, fascinated as it is with drunken funerals, brawling families, weepy suicidal artists, and deceptively sexy pale middle aged Gaelic women having bizarre Alice Sebold style breakdowns Erin go Bragh, motherf cker The story of one of those huge Irish Catholic families twelve siblings altogether, nine of whom are still alive at the time of our tale , The Gathering narratively centers around 38 year old Veronica, somewhere in the middle of the sibling chain, a frazzled but not altogether unhappy wife and mother who nonetheless has been recently having some marital problems and drinkingthan she s happy with The reason for the eponymous gathering, then, is the drowning suicide of the black sheep of the family, the manipulative and charming loser Liam, who for years has been living right on the edge of civilized society and his family s patience until finally delving underneath for good while spending some time in Brighton on the southern coast of England, a day trip from Dublin where the rest of the story takes place Because of various complicated factors, it is Veronica who must travel to Brighton in order to identify and claim Liam s body the book basically follows her through that journey and on through the funeral itself, peeking in her head and watching her attitudes about all the things going on, watching her fumble through her hazy memories and try to determine if there might be one single childhood event that can somehow explain how Liam eventually came to be.In fact, I find it a fortuitous coincidence that I just happened to read The Gathering in the same exact week I read Virginia Woolf s Mrs Dalloway for the first time as well because when all is said and done, both authors are basically attempting the same thing, to let us literally crawl inside their main protagonists heads and follow along with their thoughts stream of consciousness style In this, then, Enright s book helps clarify a point I wanted to make in my original Dalloway essay, but wasn t sure how to actually verbalize until now that although Woolf s original 1925 literary experiment should definitely still be admired for what it tries to accomplish, it s also true that we as a global culture have now had 80 years to expand and improve on those early rough Modernist experiments, with results these days that are just so much better than any of those trailblazers could ve ever achieved back then Because really, if you want to describe Enright s personal writing style, and explain a little about why people go so nuts for her work, just think of stream of consciousness done exactly and perfectly right no cruddy head scratching abstraction, no pretentious artsy for artsy s sake run on sentences, no even calling undue attention to itself, but rather a confident and solid style that seems to somehow slip right up into our hero s brain without either her or us noticing.Because that s the thing it s a fascinating story, really fascinating, but the way it s told to us is by Veronica simply remembering little bits and pieces of it here and there, by her slowly revealing her opinion and attitudes about certain relatives and events in a piecemeal fashion The Gathering is a story as weoften hear stories in real life, not as a traditional sit down A to B to C uninterrupted tale, but rather as a loose collection of scraps and trails, with the narrator themselves sometimes remembering situations wrongly, sometimes deliberately lying to us That s what makes the whole childhood aspect of this plot so intriguing, after all, is because Veronica herself admits that her memories of it all are so spotty, that sometimes she thinks she might be filling in the blanks in a certain false way deliberately, because in her heart that s what she really wants the situation to have been Was Liam sexually abused as a kid Was she as well, and now has only repressed memories of it all Or does she want an easy excuse for herself as to why Liam ended up the way he did as an adult, and a lazy justification for her growing coldness to her husband Was her brother simply a hustler, when all is said and done Could she and the other siblings have done , or was he simply doomed to have the kind of romantically tragic life that he did Enright takes on all these questions in The Gathering, and a whole lotand like I said, by telling the entire story through the filter of this very human, very flawed creature at its center, it makes us as the reader as confused about the objective truth as Veronica is herself And that ultimately is maybe Enright s biggest lesson here that no matter what the trauma, no matter what dark things may or may not have occurred in our lives that we may or may not remember, it is how we perceive those things and react to them that is ultimately the only important thing If Veronica chooses to be a victim, then that s what she s going to be, regardless of whether or not she actually was the victim of something in her past if she chooses not to be, she suddenly isn t, even if she actually was abused as a kid and by all rights should be a victim In a way it s actually the opposite of what we think of when we think of traditional Irish stories, because Enright is arguing that all of us are ultimately in charge of our own fates it s for such reasons, like I said, that I ended up not really thinking of this novel as a typical gloomy Irish story when actually reading it, despite it sharing so many surface level qualities.And then of course no discussion of The Gathering is complete without a mention of Enright s mastery over the English language, a detail that both assured its nomination in the first place and that this year guaranteed its win over all those other fey little pointless nominees I don t like quoting from books in my reviews, in that I feel quotes without context rarely ever convey the full power of why you wanted to quote them in the first place that said, here is a particularly beautiful passage from the book that struck me quite powerfully, a paragraph that not only nicely explains what is always the most annoying thing about Liam black sheep types, but also is indicative of what concerning Enright s writing style I love so much The problem with Liam was never something big The problem with Liam was always a hundred small things He had cigarettes but no matches, did I have matches Yes, but the match breaks, the match doesn t strike, he can t light these cheap Albanian trash matches Do I have a lighter F ck, he has split the matches Why don t I have a lighter He goes to find a lighter, rattling all the drawers in the kitchen He walks out, leaving the back door open He comes in the front door twenty minutes later with a lighter he found on the street lying just outside the house actually except that it is wet He lights the oven from the pilot and lights his cigarette from the oven and burns his hand and after he has put his hand under the tap for a while he fusses in the cupboard for a baking tin and he puts the lighter a cheap, plastic lighter he actually puts it in the oven, and when I scream at him he shouts right back at me and there is a tussle at the oven door After which, there is an hour of sulking because I do not trust him to dry a lighter in the oven without burning the house down And after the sulk comes The Discussion Anyone who s Please excuse me as I make a noise of annoyance, disgust, boredom and all around dissatisfaction UGHARGHHHHUHHH Don t even know how to spell that or if it makes any sense Hey, that makes a nice segue into my review.Let me start with the one perk I can honestly give this book Anne Enright has a beautiful grasp of words but she doesn t know how to use them She also had a wonderful gem of an idea for a story, but she didn t know how to develop it Combine those two together you get a reader Please excuse me as I make a noise of annoyance, disgust, boredom and all around dissatisfaction UGHARGHHHHUHHH Don t even know how to spell that or if it makes any sense Hey, that makes a nice segue into my review.Let me start with the one perk I can honestly give this book Anne Enright has a beautiful grasp of words but she doesn t know how to use them She also had a wonderful gem of an idea for a story, but she didn t know how to develop it Combine those two together you get a reader thinking, I want to like this, but I don t know how The Gathering could have easily been a beautiful, deep and touching novel, but unfortunately Enright fails at delivering that.I found the story as a whole much too disconnected and disjointed I constantly felt like I was being bounced around By the time I got relatively comfortable in one scene I suddenly found myself in a completely different time and place with unfamiliar characters It wasn t just the line of the story that was disjointed, but the actual writing itself Actually, that might not be the best way to describe writing that is mostly run on sentences and rambling thoughts, that s pretty much the opposite of disjointed, even so, it somehow still managed to feel that way.The story wasn t even saved by it s characters There wasn t a single fully developed, or even half developed character throughout the whole book Even our main character, Veronica, remained two demensional at best, despite having moments where I felt I should be feeling a connection with her Rather it felt like I was standing awkwardly by someone I barely knew while they had an emotional breakdown, glancing occasionally over my shoulder wondering if I should leave them alone or dumbly pat them on the back I think I was expected to be attatched to most of the characters, but I wasn t I didn t feel sympathy for them, nor did I even like any of them It made the book evenboring and uncomfortable.It s a great disappointment to read a book you think has so much potential to only have it fall flat If Enright has written any poetry I might be interested in reading that, I have an inkling she would make a fairly good poet, but I m going to be staying away from any other novels she s written Especially if they re anything like this This book actually angered me, and I think this paragraph sums up why I know, as I write these that they require me to deal in facts It is time to call an end to romance and just say what happened in Ada s house, the year that I was eight and Liam was barely nine That passage occurs about halfway through the book The preceding pages are an endless series of shapeless ponderings on what may or may not have happened The narrator leaps from one era to the next, with the basic point being S This book actually angered me, and I think this paragraph sums up why I know, as I write these that they require me to deal in facts It is time to call an end to romance and just say what happened in Ada s house, the year that I was eight and Liam was barely nine That passage occurs about halfway through the book The preceding pages are an endless series of shapeless ponderings on what may or may not have happened The narrator leaps from one era to the next, with the basic point being Something terrible happened in my grandmother s house when I was a child, but I can t tell you about that yet Here s how I think my grandmother may have met my grandfather, but I wasn t there so I don t know Also, I can t be sure of the things that happened even when I was there Isn t memory funny Let me give an alternative scenario that may or may not have happened But who knows, that could be wrong too Memory is so funny The book sort of saves itself in the second half when it starts to get to the point, but by then I just didn t care any The author is obviously incredibly skilled She can get by on the beauty of her writing alone, but this kind of book only frustrates me because of its wasted potential It doesn t matter how beautifully you write something if you don t make me care about what you are writing I realized lately that I hadn t read a new author in quite a while, and this represented a challenge to myself to read something I normally wouldn t This book taught me to trust my instincts When I see that some people have given this book five stars, I start to question my own sanity For me, the book had wonderful potential when I took it off the shelf and the Booker Award sticker only reinforced my impression that this would be a great read WRONG Wonderful words strung together does not a good story make The narrator is completely two dimensional as written and I was unable to connect with her or her perspective in any way Yes, I understand the woman s beloved brother fell When I see that some people have given this book five stars, I start to question my own sanity For me, the book had wonderful potential when I took it off the shelf and the Booker Award sticker only reinforced my impression that this would be a great read WRONG Wonderful words strung together does not a good story make The narrator is completely two dimensional as written and I was unable to connect with her or her perspective in any way Yes, I understand the woman s beloved brother fell apart and committed suicide, but still her ennui and depression rang false, as did her love hate feelings for her overly large, Irish family I understand that the book is about grief, but I never knew where that all encompassing grief came from because it was never developed in the novel As a sister, I assume she was close to her brother and I m told that by the author, but I really only have the descriptions of her grief to go by because I didn t get any sense of their close relationship from reading the story I was also turned off by the frequent and BASE descriptions of the bodily variety No one over the age of twelve likes a story, be it comedy or tragedy, entirely made up of d k jokes I found it juvenile and off putting The sad thing is once the final secret of the origin of her brother s and her troubles was revealed I just didn t care any The one thing I appreciated about the book is that it put to bed my worry that I wouldn t find a book that I DIDN T like and maybe my tastes were not as discerning as a true book lover s might be I thank the author for that revelation, at least Because a mother s love is God s greatest joke This sentence would make perfect sense to me if we turned it around Because a God s love is mother s greatest joke Religion, like family wounds and family love, is something one doesn t shake off easily, and that keeps haunting grown up people long after they think they have left their origins behind Even what you forget shapes what you are And that is all I remember of this novel, which may have leftimpact on me than I am aware of But Because a mother s love is God s greatest joke This sentence would make perfect sense to me if we turned it around Because a God s love is mother s greatest joke Religion, like family wounds and family love, is something one doesn t shake off easily, and that keeps haunting grown up people long after they think they have left their origins behind Even what you forget shapes what you are And that is all I remember of this novel, which may have leftimpact on me than I am aware of But that is something I am unable to see, of course, having forgotten it So, like most Bookers and Pulitzers, it will be a guest of honour on my forgettable shelf It is good to keep track of what we forget, lest we forget My forgettables have a Gathering place a home, and I am pleased to revisit it from time to time, like old family members and empty churches An intelligent, insightful and thought provoking novel about an Irish family experiencing the loss of a brother and son.Anne Enright s 2007 novel that garnered the Man Booker Prize for that year is an enjoyable but sometimes difficult journey in the life of Veronica who has recently lost her brother Told from the days immediately following his tragic death as well as remembrances from their life together, Enright tells Liam s story from the perspective of Veronica, his younger sister by about 1 An intelligent, insightful and thought provoking novel about an Irish family experiencing the loss of a brother and son.Anne Enright s 2007 novel that garnered the Man Booker Prize for that year is an enjoyable but sometimes difficult journey in the life of Veronica who has recently lost her brother Told from the days immediately following his tragic death as well as remembrances from their life together, Enright tells Liam s story from the perspective of Veronica, his younger sister by about 11 months, they being younger siblings of a populous Irish Catholic family Veronica and Liam were born in the early sixties, so much of the past that Veronica recalls is from this problematic time Enright also goes far back in the family history to Veronica s grandmother and her romances and the time when the seeds of Liam s troubles may have been first sown.Most provocative for me was Enright s spot on characterization This is a woman who knows how women think and who masterfully conveys this knowledge into rich, artful prose The story she describes is complex with discerning awareness of sexuality and the dynamics of a large family.Extraordinarily well written and engaging, Enright s is a poetic voice describing a troubled time with courage, sensitivity and vitality This novel is definitely not for everyone probably why it has such a low rating here But I thoroughly enjoyed it Enright examines grief, guilt, and family trauma so universally in this story, though she uses the lens of one woman, Veronica, to do so The writing is taut but immersive, and the story unfolds slowly and builds itself back up by the end to delivering a satisfying conclusion that will keep you thinking I found it to be a dark but not unforgiving story And though she tackles some This novel is definitely not for everyone probably why it has such a low rating here But I thoroughly enjoyed it Enright examines grief, guilt, and family trauma so universally in this story, though she uses the lens of one woman, Veronica, to do so The writing is taut but immersive, and the story unfolds slowly and builds itself back up by the end to delivering a satisfying conclusion that will keep you thinking I found it to be a dark but not unforgiving story And though she tackles some heavy material, the story has a redemption and hopefulness that alleviates some of the burden of the past her characters must face Not surprised this one won the Booker it s quintessentially literary, and I ate it up These words are imbued with a despair so raw that not even once during the time I was reading this did I feel an ounce of regret envisaging the time the novel drew to its inevitable conclusion In fact I was eager for it to be over, for the narrator to stop pouring forth her endless stream of inchoate conjectures and unsavoury insinuations Prior to this, I have slogged my way through Vollmann s 800 page behemoth The Royal Family which, despite its uncompromising sincerity and profound sympath These words are imbued with a despair so raw that not even once during the time I was reading this did I feel an ounce of regret envisaging the time the novel drew to its inevitable conclusion In fact I was eager for it to be over, for the narrator to stop pouring forth her endless stream of inchoate conjectures and unsavoury insinuations Prior to this, I have slogged my way through Vollmann s 800 page behemoth The Royal Family which, despite its uncompromising sincerity and profound sympathy for the dispossessed of the earth, features depravities of the highest order and I continue to do battle with Leslie Marmon Silko s righteously fiery tirade in Almanac of the Dead which takes pleasure in referencing every known and unknown stomach churning theme under the sun simply to make the reader squirm in their seat But somehow Anne Enright s seemingly innocuous concoction of blood bonds and family drama containsunpleasantness than the two works combined I do not know the truth, or I do not know how to tell the truth All I have are stories, night thoughts, the sudden convictions that uncertainty spawns All I have are ravings,like Every statement or harmless speculation opening a window into the narrator s world provides a disconcerting view of an emotionally repressed, traumatized individual One who is outwardly an ordinary woman grappling with the challenges of a moderately satisfactory marriage at the sunset of her youth A mother of two tiptoe ing around her own life like a trespasser But it s only her relationship with her recently deceased brother Liam which seems to give her life substance, endow it with meaning and purpose, rooting her to a particular point in time and memory from which she cannot detach herself despite best efforts In a way she seems like a listless, disembodied spirit propelled only by the currents of happenstance, mundane daily occurrences, and passive aggressive conversations with her siblings and ambiguous husband, always ever grazing the surface of the truth the truth of a summer spent in her grandmother s place long ago with her brother Liam until the time she finally shuns hesitation and divulges that closely guarded, wholly repugnant secret A secret so complex and incomprehensible even to its keeper that it seems to have hijacked her life in retrospect and delineated the downward trajectory of decline and eventual self destruction that Liam was doomed to follow They are a bundle of nerves, frayed at the ends They are wearing each other away both of them amazed by the thinness of skin that happens just there how close they can be, blood to blood, so that the ticking, afterwards, of one inside the other, might be a joke, or a pulse the beating in your veins of someone else s heart In a sense, the entire novel reads like the narrator s rambling, extended letter of apology to a brother she failed to rescue in time, both in the distant and recent past It is piercing and earnest Besides Anne Enright never indulges in the folly of distilling the issue into easy dichotomies of moral and immoral but uses words clever, cutting, precise words to make sense of the incident which serves as the seam of the narrative But unfortunately enough this is a particularly breed of fiction which impairs my ability to feel empathy for any of its characters, even though I m always acutely aware of its power There is just too much hurt, too much toxic resentment lurking between the arrays of words that seem to percolate into a reader s blood like insidious poison Even passages sketching a commonplace scene of domestic bliss are pregnant with implications that my mind refused to parse fully out of some hazily defined fear The sex scenes made my skin crawl Sometimes I felt I was going to drown in my own revulsion for this book People, she used to think, do not change, they are merely revealed And yet I cannot deny the truth of Enright s masterful unravelling of this yarn which allows the reader to partake in the shared experience of a free fall that seems to have been Veronica Hegarty s life for thirty nine years In the end, I am unable to love but I can grudgingly admire CELEBRITY DEATH MATCH Thank you ladies and gentlemen Tonight s contest from the palatial surroundings of Monkstown Boxing Club here in Dun Laoghaire is to decide who is to represent the Republic of Ireland in the 2012 London Olympics Most Miserable Contemporary Novelist event Scattered applause from the twenty or so people in the audience In the blue corner, we have Anne Enright Anne gets up tiredly from her chair in the corner and raises her hands on which giant gloves have been tied she CELEBRITY DEATH MATCH Thank you ladies and gentlemen Tonight s contest from the palatial surroundings of Monkstown Boxing Club here in Dun Laoghaire is to decide who is to represent the Republic of Ireland in the 2012 London Olympics Most Miserable Contemporary Novelist event Scattered applause from the twenty or so people in the audience In the blue corner, we have Anne Enright Anne gets up tiredly from her chair in the corner and raises her hands on which giant gloves have been tied she waves them vaguely at the small audience, most of whom are texting or playing pocket chess with each other Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, Anne is a local favourite whose first novel, The Wig My Father Wore, explored themes such as love, motherhood, Roman Catholicism, and sex in a downbeat manner, which she followed up with What Are You Like which examined tensions and ironies between family members, but recently she won the Booker for The Gathering, which is muchmiserable than both of these put together and then some, ladies and gentlemen Thank you thank you.In the RED corner, we have Frank mcCourt, world famous author of Angela s Ashes, which milked sentimental cliches of poverty stricken Irish childhoods until there was not a dry eye in the house, he needs no further introduction from me, he what Muffled voices, muffled cursing Ladies and gentlemen, I m sorry to have to tell you this, but there has been an administrative mistake made, it seems that Frank McCourt passed away in 2009 after a long and successful career So, er it is my privilege to declare that Ireland s Most Miserable Contemporary Novelist is Anne Enright He tries to get Anne to come to the centre of the right for a victory salute but she s already climbing out of the ring and leaving Thank you ladies and gentlemen moving on, our next contest is a 5 round flyweight bout between two local lads zzzt, click.I ve had enough of that Sport I hate it Especially boxing And golf And bloody Formula One Let s put on some music Sly jazz rock starts up, with a cheery cockney vocalistSinging folk songs in the nudePlates and plates of your favourite foodWatching Tory gits get booedReasons to be cheerful, part 4Reasons to be cheerful, part 4Photos from holidays where nobody fell outDancing like an idiot, running flat outDressing up like a giant troutReasons to be cheerful, part 4Reasons to be cheerful, part 4Writing graffiti on your abdominal wallDays when you hardly move at allExcept to attend a masquerade ballNot being a borrower, nor yet a lenderGoing on a ten day benderThrowing The Gathering into the blenderReasons to be cheerful, part 4Reasons to be cheerful, part 4Reasons to be cheerful, part 4Reasons to be cheerful, part 4 With apologies to the late great Ian Dury and the late great Frank McCourt Note No copies of The Gathering were harmed during the making of this review


About the Author: Anne Enright

Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works She has published three volumes of stories, one book of nonfiction, and five novels In 2015, she was named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction Her novel The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize, and her last 2011 novel, The Forgotten Waltz, won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction He most recent novel The Green Ro Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works She has published three volumes of stories, one book of nonfiction, and five novels In 2015, she was named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction Her novel The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize, and her last 2011 novel, The Forgotten Waltz, won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction He most recent novel The Green Road 2015 was nominated for The 2016 Baileys Women s Prize for Fiction, longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, and shortlisted for the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award


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