Yesterday's Weather Paperback – Sep 1 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus Reviews, and the Washington Post Book World
“Anne Enright’s style is as sharp and brilliant as Joan Didion’s; the scope of her understanding is as wide as Alice Munro’s.”
— Colm Tóibín
“A dazzling collection… a sharp, quenching portrait of contemporary life….”
— Time Out
“Observant, funny…. Enright is remarkable.”
— The Times
“A pleasure to read.”
— Globe and Mail
From the Hardcover edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The prose is usually excellent, and often beyond praise. There are a few lapses when Enright steps out of her comfort zone -- narrating a story in a teenage girl's voice, say; the "likes" aren't in, like, the right places -- but these are quite rare. What I find most appealing about her voice is its combination of poise with violent freshness. The descriptions are often poetry, e.g. a man "setting [his baby] down on its stomach to swim its way across the carpet." And then there's the perfect fingering: "The sex, when it happened, an aimless battering around the nub of him, which was sadly distant and, she supposed, numb with drink." (From a story titled "The Bad Sex Weekend," which as the NYT reviewer said would fit the entire book.) Apart from these stylistic virtues, I find the sensibility behind these stories fascinatingly edgy. The subject matter goes beautifully with the sensibility; it is very valuable to have the tawdry sanctities of marriage, childbirth, and mothering cut open by such a sharp and unflinching writer.
Although the stories ostensibly range from the mundane to the disturbing the real narrative always hovers close to sex and a bleary animal wistfulness, similar to the vague longing of a Raymond Carver novel, but without the focus or variety.
Some people are good writers without being good story tellers. The writing took me away but I often wished it was somewhere else and in the company of more complex and interesting characters.
This was my first Enright book, and maybe I shouldn't have started off with a collection of 20+ short stories. Like I said, I liked the style. I enjoyed the first couple of stories but then the rest seemed to be replicas of each other.
The only story that stands out in my memory (because the rest seem to have just blended with each other) is "My Little Sister". A young woman replays events of her little sister's life, her sister's aneroxia. Snippets of memories that were artfully constructed, but then the ending was not satisfying. All the same, this was one of the good ones, haunting and realistic.