Saturday, June 20, 2009
TITLE: THE GATHERING
AUTHOR: ANNE ENRIGHT
Details: Booker Prize Winner / monthly bookclub read
If this book hadn't been this month's pick for my bookclub, I would not have finished it. The story was too confused for me with fact and fiction blurring into each other without ever crystallizing to reveal any sort of truth or resolution.
The story is being told by Veronica, who finds herself falling apart following her brother's Liam's suicide. Or was she always falling apart and has his death accelerated the process?
During the time from finding out about Liam's death, through travelling to England to organize his return to Dublin, to the wake and the funeral, Veronica tries to make sense of Liam's life, her own life and the history of her family. Did something that happened to Liam when he was eight lay the foundations for his alcoholism and death, or were they always inescapable?
These questions could have made for a fascinating story. They don't because rather than looking for facts, Veronica makes up the past. Even her own memories can't be trusted.
I understand what the author may be trying to say; that we suppress shocking experiences and don't allow ourselves to look too hard at hurtful events. Also that grief makes us at least a little crazy and unreliable.
Still, Veronica as a narrator was too untrustworthy for me, which lead to me really not caring for her at all. And not caring for Veronica meant that I didn't care for her story, this book, either.
The book did provide me with two passages that really spoke to me though:
"... how there are little thoughts in your head that can grow until they eat your entire mind. Just tiny little thoughts - they are like a cancer, there is no telling what triggers the spread, or who will be struck, and why some get it and others are spared." "People do not change, they are merely revealed."