karen's Reviews > The Gathering

The Gathering by Anne Enright
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Dec 28, 11

bookshelves: icky-sex, it-is-for-class, sshh-family-secrets


this book was very frustrating. i feel like i should love it, but it's like there is a barrier - a chastity belt between us preventing our love, and as much as i want it, it isn't going to happen for us. there is a quality to her writing that reminded me of what i loved or housekeeping, books i am also told i am supposed to love, but just can't feel anything for, like distant relations. she is a less antiseptic writer than hustvedt, though. i respect her prose - there are lines in here of amazing beauty and melancholy that make me say - "yes, there you are - come out where i can see you," but the nothing-new-here feel to the plot means these moments are not enough.

and for some reason, i always thought i liked the booker award-winners more than, say, the pulitzers or other prestigious awards. in my mind, i had decided, "no, the bookers are the "good" awards - i usually like those". this idea, deeply rooted as it was, turns out to be like so many of my firmly-held ideas, and based on zero facts. i checked out the former booker winners and i have only actually read 10 of them,and only really liked 4. there are a lot of authors i like on there, but in a lot of cases, the winning book is one i haven't read. so - i give up my idea of the booker as my gold standard and one more ideal topples.

one odd thing of note about her ("her" being author/narrator)- she is endlessly preoccupied with casually describing the genitals of characters: her own, her husband's, the imagined genitals of her grandparents, etc. and they are usually compared to food - poultry etc. it is jarring, at first, then it becomes an accepted quirk, and by the end you can sort of see a psychological reason for it (for the narrator - enright's choice to grossly describe is still a mystery), but still - enough with the genitals.

having finished it, i shrug and i move on, not really feeling i have read anything that will stick with me, but while i was reading it, i did make little bookmark pages that have examples of a beautiful turn of phrase, or a nice original observation, and i would type them out here, but if they are the reason to read the book,in my opinion, i don't want to ruin the experience for any other future reader because they are like the jewels in the quiet night of her story.

i didn't say she inspired glorious prose from other people
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 50) (50 new)

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message 1: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Null Ooh, can't wait to see what you think. A bunch of my friends read it and said it was AWFUL.


message 2: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Null That was one of the things my friends didn't like about it -- that she was so preoccupied with her grandparents' sex life.


karen and this woman was always describing the "spreading bruise" of her own genitals etc etc etc...

genitals.


message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Null Spreading bruise? Well that's an attractive thought.


message 5: by Tracyene (new)

Tracyene "this book was very frustrating. i feel like i should love it, but it's like there is a barrier - a chastity belt between us preventing our love, and as much as i want it, it isn't going to happen for us."

A+++ on that description!


karen ha! thank you!


message 7: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine okay weirdly a customer asked me if I knew anything about three books today. They had this, little bee and let the great world spin. I told them that you liked little bee, McCann is cool as fuck as a person, and no one knew anything about this. Now I feel bad.


message 8: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine also I feel the same way about the booker prize. on less evidence.


karen you feel bad why?? little bee is awesome.

i'm glad you guys invoke me when i am not there.


message 10: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine cause apparently you do have things to say about this book. if I had been a better employee and been on goodreads I would have known.

I invoke you a lot. or I make connor do things which is kindof the same.


karen i would have just said, "you like genitals?? then read this book!!"


message 12: by Alan (last edited Apr 19, 2010 06:36AM) (new)

Alan I've only read 8 Booker winners (although, as you, many other books by Booker winners) and liked 5 - not bad I spose. Good - Midnight's Children; The English patient; How Late it Was, How Late; Disgrace. Not bad at all - Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. Didn't like much - Hotel Du Lac; Oscar & Lucinda & Vernon God Little. Are there any prizes that come up with the goods for you (nearly) every time?
Don't think I'll bother with this one - I read her 'What are You Like' which was OK...can't remember if there was a genital thing there. Like you I shrug and move on.


karen ugh, i hated vernon god little.

i'm not sure - i thought for ages it was the booker that was my trusted friend. but just now i went to the national book award, the whitbread, the nibbies, etc, and my eyes haven't lit up with trust yet, although there are a ton of books on those lists that i just haven't read at all...

maybe i just don't like books!


message 14: by Alan (new)

Alan urrr, no. You are books


message 15: by Alan (new)

Alan you should choose the prizes. In fact we should set up an annual Karen GR prize.


karen ha! oh, man - greg was saying before that we should sticker the books at work with a picture of me making a face that would give my opinion of the book: thumbs-upping, making a throw-up face, etc... if oprah can have a book club, so can i! maybe from now on, my reviews will just be pictures, either hugging, or stomping on the book.


message 17: by Alan (new)

Alan I've seen a picture of you nursing a book.


karen that's true!

and that should just be my thing, "look at what i am doing to this book! and this one!"

sometimes i will be throwing them out the window - action shot!


message 19: by Trish (last edited Apr 19, 2010 07:07AM) (new)

Trish A word about the Booker: it seems to have gotten even quirker over the past ten years. Vernon God Little was a watershed in my mind--how on earth did they arrive at that one? One almost imagines that all the committee members sat around and plugged for their favorites, and because no one would agree or give in, they picked nobody's favorite. But to tell you the truth, the Nobel committee has raised my eyebrows with some of their nominations as well. Did you read any ELFRIEDE JELINEK (prize winner 2004)? Talk about a preoccupation with sex...I know, I know, sex makes the world go 'round. Why the hell then aren't we coupling on the sidewalks? Well, perhaps because it is subject to perversion? My point exactly.


message 20: by Alan (new)

Alan I read VGL because that year someone I know (a little) was on the shortlist and her book (Astonishing Splashes of Colour) was better than VGL, but maybe not as good as Oryx and Crake and Notes on a Scandal also on the same shortlist. As you say - VGL over O & C is just perverse. Oh yes wasn't Galgut's the Good Doctor also on the list, another fine book.


message 21: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine karen wrote: "i would have just said, "you like genitals?? then read this book!!""

I will say that next time.


karen i hated that jelinek book, too.
boooooring.


karen not for nothing, and i am cringing while i write this, just so you all know, but the b/n discover awards is usually a really good list. i have liked all the ones i have read from it.

cringe.


message 24: by Richard (new)

Richard G ahhhh, the coveted "karen" a hug or a stomp an idea much overdue, also change the bookshelves to your catagories while pruning the book world.


karen i have certainly got my work cut out for me...


message 26: by Richard (last edited Apr 19, 2010 09:02AM) (new)

Richard G yes, but it would be another labor of hug and stomp!


message 27: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine karen wrote: "not for nothing, and i am cringing while i write this, just so you all know, but the b/n discover awards is usually a really good list. i have liked all the ones i have read from it.

cringe."


I think I feel the same way about this. Although I find about half are books I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole, but the ones that look good look really good.
although again I haven't read many.

I also find that I tend to like the shortlist for prizes more than the book that actually wins consistently.


message 28: by Esteban (new)

Esteban del Mal Maybe it's just because I got outta bed and my unconscious mind is slowly receding under the deluge of coffee, but when I read this review, all I saw was Captain Caveman hollering "GE-E-E-NITALS!"


karen that's pretty much how i start every day.


message 30: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine as a side note I do think this karen rating system is a lovely idea but I think that on some books it could be nice if we could add an addendum to a couple that I know that Karen hates that either Greg or I happen to really like. I mean just because Karen doesn't like transgressive fiction doesn't mean Bataille should be kicked out of the fiction section.


message 31: by karen (last edited Apr 19, 2010 09:27AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

karen ha! i would never kick him out, in fact, i am the one ordering all the titles we have in the store, cuz we certainly ain't modeled for them.

but i will never stick a happy-faced me on the cover.

the stickers would just be for recommendations/suggestions. the only books i actively purge with absolute bias are cheesy kensington titles and those harlequin/mira strippable books. and some triple crown, but a lot of that is preemptive.


message 32: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine wait I had no idea that we weren't modeled for him. I can order him in if you prefer.

You can put my approval on the cover.

good, cause I like claro too.

I don't want to have to wage a save my books from Karen campaign. Although you aren't fooling me I know someone is returning love in the time of the fridges!


karen i. have. never. returned. that.

i don't mind ordering him, jazz, i just don't want to read him. i order all sorts of stuff in to the store that i have no interest in. that's just good business. just cuz i don't like him, doesn't mean i banish him - it's a prestige thing.


message 34: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine I think connor does it. I ordered a new one. I like to recommend it even if no one listens to me and buys it.


message 35: by Richard (new)

Richard G well when are you guys ordering the stickers?


karen i need to hire a famous photographer first.


message 37: by Richard (new)

Richard G thx to the economy you should be able to get someone good on the cheap?!?


message 38: by Trish (new)

Trish karen wrote: "the b/n discover awards is usually a really good list. cringe."

What about the Mathilda Savitch choice? Did you get a look at that? A colleague of mine really liked it. I didn't. Boring is right.


karen i bought it. i actually bought it before i knew about the award b/c of cover and plot description. it was bad?? frown. i bought the columbine one, too, which won the nonfiction award.


message 40: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine The columbine one is good if it is the one by Cullen, I got distracted halfway through but the first half was awesome and I will finish it.


karen yeah, it is that one - greg is reading it now.
he was nice when he came in to sign.


message 42: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine it's good stuff, well researched.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

i saw columbine at b&n this weekend, and, despite the fact that half the cover is practically blank, the award sticker was covering the author's name. so it looks like it was written by "cull."


message 44: by Trish (last edited Apr 19, 2010 08:54PM) (new)

Trish Columbine is hard to read. The writing and research is great--it's just such a gruesome subject. I have to take it in small doses. Novelizations of awful-ness are much easier to take.

Actually, I'd like to hear your take on Savitch. Thirteen-year-old protagonist, author says he wrote it in stream of conciousness in a few days. Say no more.


karen i will push it up the stack - the next 8 or so books are planned already, but that has just become the ninth.


Alice Hembra The Gathering by Anne Enright. It took a while to get her rhythm down but once I did, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a true study in poetic prose. Very lyrical and loaded with metaphor. It was one of those books that I found myself going back and rereading a number of paragraphs just to study her style.


Cathy Sargent Yes it was frustrating and there is a barrier: estranged sadness and frustrated grief in reading this novel. this is also true for abuse survivors who suffer from dissociations and re enactments to master the earlier trauma. What trauma? Being a witness to the sexual abuse of her brother must have felt disempoewring for Veronica. She did nothing..she continue to enable the secret by not speaking up. Am glad she is speaking up ...it is not the trauma that makes us sick but the inability to express the trauma. i will not be silent (CALM)


Phyllis I finished the book last night and went to bed thinking the same thing; that the Booker prize list maybe isn't the right one for me. And that I really didn't like this book. You captured most of my thoughts, except the one where I wanted to throw the book across the room. But, didn't, because it's a library book.


Phyllis I finished the book last night and went to bed thinking the same thing; that the Booker prize list maybe isn't the right one for me. And that I really didn't like this book. You captured most of my thoughts, except the one where I wanted to throw the book across the room. But, didn't, because it's a library book.


karen ha! good, thoughtful restraint!


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