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The Portable Virgin

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The characters in this fierce and witty first collection of stories stand at an oblique angle to society. Full of desire, but out of kilter, their response to a dislocated reality is mutinous, wild, unforgettable.
Published September 1st 1995 by Reed International Books (first published January 9th 1992)
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Average rating 3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  126 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Hazel Katherine
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
I feel I should be whispering, but I really didn't think this collection was great. In fact, the only story I loved was the first one. It lulled me into a false sense of security - I settled in to the book, convinced I was in for a rare treat and...tasted the bitterness of disappointment with the next story. I kept going, kept reading and kept hoping.

Now look, I'm cringing writing this. It feels a bit like dissing Homer. I feel I should rush in there and tell you all how much I *love* Anne
Neelakshi Chakraborty
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
The new voice in Irish fiction,Anne Enright, is definitely original and striking. 'A Portable Virgin' consists of short stories, each story elegantly crafted, each with a slightly absurdest soul of its own. However, if only that was all it took to write great fiction!

Here is one excerpt from the book which best explains Anne Enright's craft :

"I started off with mackarel pete, mackarel being a scavenger fish, and good for the heart.I followed with veal osso bucco, for reaons I need not
Preema Priyambada
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not a single sentence go waste and each of them sting. It was a short story collection and pleasantly shocking. As if you get something more out of every successive reading.

At some point we stop looking for a definite answer, and in those stories we feel she has at least acknowledged them,the themes aren't simple, they are those nameless things which bother you behind your head(ok, if not everyone's heads, us misfits) and you cannot name them.

May 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who love beautiful honest writing.
Shelves: important
Anne Enright's writing style washes over the reader with honest meaning and poignant moments of clarity that define parts of us we haven't known how to articulate.
Fiza Pirani
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
What a fascinating, quirky collection. Enright's voice is the most unique I've read yet, each sentence a strange but welcome surprise. There are stories I enjoyed thoroughly, some I had to reread a few times to really understand and some I'm still confused about. But I'm intrigued.
Taylor Follett
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
A few standout stories, but in general, very much an early collection. I’m a big Enright fan and I saw a lot of what I love about her later books in this, but not quite as put together as in the books!
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Her first short-story collection showed enormous ingenuity and wit.
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Superb and succinct. It took effort to tear myself away from the pages. Yet I wish to re-read the stories immediately. I have seldom felt like that about literature.

Enright conveys so much with her beautifully constructed sentences. The enflamed sublimation that lay beneath the the sentences of each story reminded me of J.D Salinger's style in Nine Stories. Anyone who loved 9 Stories/From Esme with Love and Squalor will hopefully find similar joy in reading this book.
Paul Taylor
Sep 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Angela Carter's quote on the cover describes the stories as original; not wishing to contradict so eminent a critic I would use the adjectives surreal and impenetrable. The catholic angst that characterises Enright's work is much in evidence but I put the book down with the sense that I must have missed something.
Mar 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Engaging writing style and personal voice but the author has a spaghetti brain. Most of the stories are a mess - had literally no idea what was going on sometimes - so you have got to filter hard for the gems...but when you get there, it's worth it:)
May 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Anne Enright and think she is one of the best authors alive, however, I am not sure this book is worth the effort. Most of the best stories are collected in her latest book, Yesterday's Weather.
Mar 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of tight stories
i read "the house of the architect's love story" in college and was astounded at the power of words to make you root for and hate a character. enright has an odd, somewhat uneven body of work, but i love her. and this collection especially.
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lari by: Sara
I didn't know what to expect from it, other than it was meant to be good. And it was. The stories are adorable and quirky and I enjoyed Anne's writing style and humour very much. An enjoyable, light read. I read it all in one day, it was a really good day :)
I'm not really a fan of short stories - but I still try them from time to time to see if I can change my mind. This collection was ok - not the best but not the worst I have read. Enright has an unusual eye and a lively imagination - I'm keen to try another of her novels.
James M
Dec 28, 2014 rated it liked it
A modern Irish short story masters collection.
Sigridur Maria
Jan 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Aðeins of hástemmd.
Sep 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
Interested in other works by this author
Enjoyed the Gathering. Could not get into thos one
Nov 17, 2016 rated it liked it
This collection confused me - if I'm honest. I felt as if I'd entirely missed the point
Aug 30, 2012 rated it liked it
An eclectic mixture. Some impenetrable some wry but all with their own momentum. If you don't understand the Irish condition you won't get the most out of it.
Lindsay Nova
rated it it was ok
Jun 07, 2018
Áine Órga
rated it it was amazing
Oct 16, 2014
Venus Zine
rated it it was amazing
Jan 01, 2009
rated it it was ok
Sep 22, 2018
Will Peverley
rated it liked it
Jul 23, 2016
Barry Stewart
rated it it was amazing
Apr 08, 2017
S Harris
rated it did not like it
Jan 20, 2015
rated it really liked it
Jul 26, 2013
rated it liked it
Jun 17, 2009
Aug 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
Just didn't get these. Dis-jointed, weird, no story. No idea what most were about?
Marisa Pace
rated it it was ok
Oct 19, 2016
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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 The Forgotten Waltz won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
“Of course I am bland, she thought. You too would be bland if you grew up with one gas pump in front of the house and nothing else except a view that stretched over half the world. Landscape made me bland, bears poking in the garbage can stunted my individuality, as did plagues of horseflies, permafrost, wild-fire, and the sun setting like a bomb. So much sky makes one bewildered - which is the proper way to be.” 1 likes
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