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Enright follows up her 2007 Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Gathering, with this collection of 31 short stories. Most of the selections are set in a contemporary Ireland that exhibits only tenuous links to the country evoked in the works of Joyce, O'Casey, or O'Brien. Formerly oppressive traditions, institutions, and social realities have given way to the global and cultural forces rapidly reshaping the country. Enright limns this transitional world and its diverse inhabitants, all unified by the mysterious discontents and dazzling triumphs of love, in breathtaking detail. In the title story, for example, a young woman discovers in her newborn child the grace to accept the well-intentioned but clumsy affection offered by her husband's family. Enright has been rightfully praised for her imaginative and stylistic powers. She is more than a gifted technician, however. She shows her readers how opportunities for grace emerge from the humdrum details and obsessive crises that make up our lives, and as such, she is one of the most distinctive and necessary authors writing today. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/08.]--J.G. Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
In this overstuffed collection from Booker Prize-winner Enright (The Gathering), the gems are overshadowed by the sheer number of stories (there are 31). Enright's talent lies in her ability to tweak an ordinary situation and create something that is at once unique and universal: two wives coming to different conclusions about their husbands' infidelities in "Until the Girl Died" and "The Portable Virgin," an examination of elevator and pregnancy etiquette in "Shaft" or the permutations of sexual desire in "Revenge." Other standouts such as "Little Sister" and "Felix" resonate because of their tight focus. In the former, the narrator pieces together her dead sister's life and realizes "It was all just bits. I really wanted it to add up to something, but it didn't." In "Felix," Enright riffs on Lolita and creates an endearing and repulsive middle-aged woman narrator who has an affair with a neighborhood boy. But too often Enright's characters--more often than not female, first-person narrators--bleed into one another until their stories become jumbled in the reader's mind, as another unhappy wife or mother laments her situation. (Sept.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Acclaim for the internationally bestselling The Gathering: "Such incredible sentences . . . it's unlikely you'll find a more precisely rendered depiction of the hypocrisy, minor hysterics, and comforting ritual of an Irish wake."-- "Globe and Mail" "Enright is a daring writer -- witty, original and inventive. . . . Utterly compelling." -- "Daily Mail" "Reckless intelligence, savage humor, slow revelation, no consolation: Anne Enright's fiction is jet dark -- but how it glitters." -- "New York Times Book Review" "A lyrical meditation on memory and connectedness . . . dreamy . . . wise. . . . Like Ali Smith, Enright is an original." -- "Kirkus Reviews" (starred review)