At the moment I'm juggling two books--Robinson Crusoe and Identical Strangers, a memoir written by twins separated at birth that I received back in the summer through the Library Thing Early Reviewers giveaway. Eliot has been set aside until the weekend. I'm happy to finally be reading the Defoe because it means I'll be able to read books by Muriel Spark and J.M. Coetzee that are riffs off of that novel--yes, I'm already thinking ahead to what I can read next year.
Started and finished earlier in the week was Anne Enright's The Gathering, a book I knew I wanted to read as soon as I heard it was about a sibling's suicide (been there, done that, still picking the scabs), although I'd been a bit hesitant to start since it was about an Irish sibling (kind of also done the Irish bit with a cousin from Dublin who lived with us and shared my room through most of high school).
Enright's writing won me over so quickly, though, that I was itching to get online to add her books to my wishlist before I was a scant dozen pages into the book (I'll post quotes in a day or so, have no fear). I'll be having an Enright spree most definitely just as soon as the Reading From the Stacks challenge is over--two are already in the university library, thank goodness; I'll be able to snatch them up on Feb. 1. Her first collection of short stories is out-of-print and very expensive. I hope it'll be reissued now that she's won the Booker, but in the meantime, there's always ILL.
Enright is brilliant. She tells the story in the voice of an angry, bitter woman capable of the darkest humor and the most unreliable of narrations. Veronica's responsible for identifying the corpse and bringing back from Brighton the remains of her drowned brother. She's also footing the bill for the funeral and coffin; that's how close she was to Liam. She believes his problems started the year they and their younger sister Kitty (there were 12 Hegarty children if you count Stevie, "the little angel in heaven") were sent to stay with her grandparents (her mother may have been experiencing a breakdown). While there, either Liam or possibly Veronica herself fell prey to the sexual advances of her grandparents' landlord. Veronica is not exactly sure which of these memories is the true one, especially since imagining horrible things is her strong suit. And imagine she does, delving desperately into her grandmother's past as a way of understanding why such a woman would allow such a man to have access to the children, while Veronica's own unhappy life, with husband and lovely young daughters (although, as Liam has told her, "Pity about the teeth" on one of the girls), reaches a critical point of its own.
I do believe this one may wind up in top position in my favorite books list at the end of December.