Anne Enright Divides Us

Courtesy of The New Yorker

An interesting little literary roundtable of sorts happened in our corner of the Phoenix HQ today. We were discussing our fondness for a story in The New Yorker's winter fiction issue by Anne Enright, called "Natalie." Nina MacLaughlin (the other half of Word Up) and our colleague Adam Reilly, however, had recently read Enright's 2007 Booker Prize winning The Gathering. Despite both admitting that they sped through the book -- Adam even said he stayed up late nights finishing it -- each came away disappointed, and somewhat unsatisfied.

The reason we liked "Natalie" so very much was because we were entranced by how the narrator discovered things about herself through her bad-to-worse, awkwardly forced relationship with the title character. Often, we think, people like Natalie can bring about certain revelations about the type of individual you are, and the type of individual you can never be. There is an inherent beauty and free-fall in that discovery, and that is what the story meant to us. Plus, the photo (see above) that The New Yorker chose to accompany the piece was utterly perfect. For us, it evokes the same feelings the story does: loss, desolation, exhilaration, fear, lust, the world at your feet with nothing and everything to lose.

We are about to approach The Gathering, then, with all of these thoughts in mind, but we wondered whether Anne Enright was as polarizing to anyone else's little world as it was to ours. Tell us, if you like.

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