Enright won the Booker for ‘The gathering’ which I have not read. This is a collection of short stories, rather short fiction. Because they are not stories, as there is no plot and a logical set of events. These are fictional episodes, all featuring women and highlighting a variety situations such as loss of loved ones, attitude to loss of loved ones, to sickness etc.. I am not a great fan of short stories/fiction. But these did portray some odd ball but likeable characters and had a quirky sense of humor, while dealing with some strange and often sad situations. The one I liked best was ‘What you want’ – in which the elderly, female protagonist is talking of an imaginary situation if she had 3 wishes. “Like you might say, ‘Well for my first wish, I’d like to have a beautiful body’ and azzakazzam. ‘There’s your beautiful body’ says the angel and, when you look down, you’re still the same old yoke and the angel says, ‘Well, it is beautiful – the way one bone fits into another, and the blood flows, and the brain works, and all that’ and maybe, yes – in the scheme of things – but, ‘No!’ you say, ‘No!’ and you blurt out something like, ‘I want to a body like Raquel Welch’ and of course she’s ancient, these days, so all you get is a heap of silcone and arthritis. Or even worse, you ask for a body like Marilyn Monroe, who is actually dead, not to mention rotten, or you ask for the body of a ‘film star’ and the nagel gives you Marlon Brando.’ The episode goes on – it is hilarious!! A really good read.
This is the other book I read this week.
Doris Lessing is an all time favorite – her Golden Note Book is amongst the top of my ‘all time favorite’ list. Feminist, leftist, abolitionist, pacifist and so much more….. and this book is a biography and more. It is the story of her parents as they were in her childhood and as maybe they could have been in a more ideal world. It is an innovative format, and nothing less could be expected from Lessing. Through her memories of her war-wounded (WW I) father and brother who survived a sinking submarine in the other war (WW II) and her difficult relationship with a quirky mother, Lessing provides us with glimpses of a childhood which went to make her who she was. Her accounts of her mother nursing her sick father, who died slowly of diabetes complications in the days when there was no treatment for diabetes, is honest and troubling. But, whether you are a Lessing fan or not, the book gives a candid view of the Rhodesia of the 30s and 40s. For me, it was a great read.