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Bringers of Ill Luck and Bad Weather

Penelope Fitzgerald: Anne Enright

2 March 2000
What Are You Like 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 257 pp., £10, March 2000, 0 224 06063 5
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... In Anne Enright’s collection The Portable Virgin (published in 1991) the first story is about Cathy, who works in the handbag department of a large Dublin store. Cathy classifies the customers by the bags she induces them to buy, bags which ‘take them one step beyond who they thought they might be.’. Cathy marries late, but only falls violently in love when a ‘loose, rangy woman’ comes into the store and fingers the most beautiful of imports, ‘an Argentinian calf-skin shoulder bag in tobacco brown ...

All Reputation

Hermione Lee: Eliza and Clara

17 October 2002
The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 230 pp., £12.99, September 2002, 0 224 06269 7
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Clara 
by Janice Galloway.
Cape, 425 pp., £10.99, June 2002, 0 224 05049 4
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... good novel Foreign Parts, and uses a quite different kind of prose here from her earlier work. Anne Enright moves out and away from Dublin, though Eliza Lynch’s Irishness, and her childhood in the ‘bitter town’ of Mallow, do call her home. Both take on the fiction writer’s tussle with history and biography, shaping these real lives to their ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Listen to Heloïse

10 May 2007
... the Renaissance. Whereas we did, obviously. We Irish schoolteachers, or peasants, or whatever the Enrights used to be: those peasant schoolteachers who aped their Renaissance from the rational British, who got their Renaissance, not from Italy, but by natural right, who got their Renaissance in their father’s womb. Don’t talk to me about the fucking ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Bombings in Baghdad

10 June 1999
... The night they bombed Baghdad – the first time – I was out at the TV station where I was working. I saw it in hospitality, on the big screen. The room was full of people drinking; people from the show, and also, because they were bombing Baghdad, other people from around the building. They just drifted in. There were no rules to hospitality, but on a normal night these people would not have come in for a beer at the end of the day ...

At Turner Contemporary

Anne Enright: Dorothy Cross, Connemara

19 December 2013
... When the queen came to Ireland in May 2011 a number of the great, good and merely deserving were locked in the 1937 reading room of Trinity College Dublin for two hours without their mobile phones, before being allowed into the beautiful Long Room of the Old Library to await her arrival. The ratio of men to women was about the same as you find at the front of the plane – five to one perhaps, of suit to skirt – and the conversation veered towards the kind of disaster that happens when Wives Are Not Invited ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Boys’ Aliens and Girls’ Aliens

21 September 1995
... You have to be white to qualify. Just after the Secret Histories documentary, broadcast on Channel 4 on 28 August, which showed autopsy footage of aliens who crashed in New Mexico in 1947, Michael Moore’s TV Nation described the Jerusalem Syndrome, which affects a similar kind of banana, in a different kind of way. Visitors to the Holy City dress up as ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Looking at the Wallpaper

2 January 1997
... Sitting in France writing about death and wallpaper, it is no surprise to find my walls orange: ‘that most morbid and irritating of colours’, as Huysmans described it, ‘with its acid glow and unnatural splendour’. The word ‘orange’ was a late addition to the language, before it we just had gold or ochre, and, like the colour, it throws up questions about the precious and the fake, the difference between what is natural and what is recent ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Disliking the McCanns

4 October 2007
... It is very difficult to kill a child by giving it sedatives, even if killing it is what you might want to do. I asked a doctor about this, one who is also a mother. It was a casual, not a professional conversation, but like every other parent in the Western world, she had thought the whole business through. She said that most of the sedatives used on children are over-the-counter antihistamines, like the travel sickness pills that knocked me and my daughter out on an overnight ferry to France recently ...

Sinking by Inches

Anne Enright: Ireland’s Recession

7 January 2010
... Last year, the Society of St Vincent de Paul spent €6.1 million giving people in Ireland food. This year, it says that requests for food are up 50 per cent, that calls in general are up 35 per cent and in Dublin 50 per cent, and that 25 per cent of callers are new clients, many of whom were contributors to the charity at the church gates last year ...

Diary

Anne Enright: A Writer’s Life

28 May 2009
... I feel she might have managed this book-selling business in a more autocratic and interesting manner, this endless round of taxi-plane-taxi-interview-interview-gig-hotel. I email several different publicists to say: ‘There is no time to eat on the schedule you have sent me.’ Everywhere I go it is autumn, or a mild spring; you would think the world an ...

What Family Does to You

Eleanor Birne: Anne Enright

18 October 2007
The Gathering 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2007, 978 0 224 07873 3
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... The Gathering – Anne Enright’s fourth novel, and her best – is aware of its heritage, of the books that have gone before it. It makes use of familiar signals and motifs. It is centred on a wake for a man who has died early: an alcoholic who was betrayed as a child, part of a large, chaotic family. So far so Irish ...

Bury that bastard

Nicole Flattery

5 March 2020
Actress 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 264 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 78733 206 5
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... This scene reminds me of something I underlined in ‘The Portable Virgin’, an early story of Anne Enright’s: ‘I’m not that old after all. Revenge is not out of the question.’ The title of Enright’s seventh novel could easily be ‘I’m going to bury that bastard.’ Then again, as a title Actress is ...

Small Hearts

Terry Eagleton: Anne Enright

3 June 2015
The Green Road 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 310 pp., £16.99, May 2015, 978 0 224 08905 0
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... lives unfulfilled and relationships cockpits of gladiatorial combat. Almost all the characters in Anne Enright’s superb new novel are spiritually damaged in one way or another, but we are not told exactly how they landed up like this, and it would seem churlish to inquire. Do you end up an alcoholic, like one of the characters here, because you have ...

Diary

Anne Enright: My Milk

5 October 2000
... The milk surprises me. It does not disgust me as much as I thought it would, unless it is not fresh. It is disturbing that a piece of you should go off so quickly. I don’t think Freud ever discussed lactation, but the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bodily products here is very fine. Women leak so much. Perhaps this is why we clean – which is to say that a man who cleans is always ‘anal’, a woman who cleans is just a woman ...

Green Hearts

Anne Enright

3 August 1995
Meanwhile Back at the Ranch: The Politics of Irish Beef 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Vintage, 292 pp., £6.99, January 1995, 0 09 951451 6
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... shame about the eight containers of animal fat. Mind you, he didn’t mean any harm. South Africa banned beef imports even as eight containers full of Goodman beef were on the high seas, so they entered the country under the altered description of ‘fat’. It was only to get the money due to the company under the EC export refunds scheme that Nobby, as the ...

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