7:13 | That's All, Folks There are no more questions, so Tina K thanks Enright on behalf of everyone in attendance. They share a private joke about...a hat? "Don't ask, don't ask," teases Tina. We don’t. Instead, I quickly finish off my glass of red, thinking "please please please let the Internet connection be back up" (it is) and with the crowd rushing past to grab copies of the book, and Glamour returning to its usual fuschia hub-bub, pack it up and call it a night at SILF. 'Til tomorrow.
7:10 | Words of Wisdom So, how do you write a book? "A lot of effort goes into it …so yes. I sat down and sat down," and wrote. “It's a lot of sitting down”--not the first time we’ve heard an author say this at SILF. “The only way to write a book is to actually write a book." Not the first time we’ve heard that, either.
7:08 | Happily Ever After Unlike some authors who allow the characters to lead the direction of the story, Enright had clear ideas about the ending of her book. " My impulse is toward a happy ending," she affirms. "I’m looking for that, in art and in life."
7:06 | Purpose After a round of "hello, hello, hello?!" and finding the questioner in the now-dim Glamour Bar, Enright offers a "Why do you write?" back to the same posed question. "I always thought that everyone writes, " she says. "I could ask you, how do you not write? I wouldn’t know what I was for if I wasn’t writing. I wouldn’t know my function."
7:03 | Vanity Like actors who can't watch their own films, does Enright find it hard to read her own work? "Oh, well, yes," she says. "What I read [just now] isn’t on the page." The audience roars with laughter. "You can never get it right...it’s an imperfect object. After maybe three years you feel like you can’t re-write…it’s died."
6:55 | Name-calling On being labeled a surrealist, Enright doesn't really have any reaction, since her writing has changed throughout the years: "I don't mind it if it's nice." She's more so interested in structure, and in sentences--so much that she often overlooks the content.
6:52 | Love/Hate An audience member shares that she's enjoying The Gathering but at the same time, it's so intense that she's dreading it. How does Enright pull away from her stories? "I wanted to have a tee shirt that said 'I just made it up,'" she responds, and the crowd laughs. "Normally it stays on the computer. I’m not allowed to read reviews, because it would make me grumpy. So you shut the door and have a good time with the kids. Brilliant."
6:49 | Part II As the glowing Glamour Bar fills with enthusiastic applause, mics are passed around--it's time for the questions. Enright responds to her first question on the novel as her preferred form of writing. "I don't know how to do exits and entrances," she says, referring to playwriting. The novel was an Instinctual form for Enright, yet she stresses that she doesn't write "proper novels". "Novels allow you not to just tell, but play with ideas too. I don’t do third person, past tense, [nor am I] omniscient."
6:46 | They Say the Darndest Things Children are inquisitive, even in fiction. "How did Uncle Liam die?" Veronica tries to answer her youngest daughter's "whys". "Emily needed to dismantle the world before she can reassemble it again," read Enright from her book. So, patiently, Veronica explains that Uncle Liam died from drowning in the ocean. Yes, Emily knew how to swim but no, Uncle Liam didn't want to swim. Nor did he want to breathe. "I think it's okay to kill yourself, you know, when you're old," comments the child. "Your uncle was not old. He was sick, in his head." "Like seasick sick?" The audience didn't really know whether to laugh or cry.
6:43 | Crazy Little Thing Called… Enright reads a few more passages from her book, this time on Veronica’s interaction with her own children, Rebecca and Emily. Emily wanted to know how her mother knew that her father was "the one". "I just knew," read Enright, but really, Veronica was thinking "I didn't know. I just knew that he didn't belong to her." Yikes. "I knew," bluffed Veronica to little Emily, “because he was so tall."
6:40 | What You Say? Her brother Liam's death shatters Veronica. "It was love that undoes her rather than desolation.” She pauses. Then,“ perhaps love is a desolation, you tell me,” she challenges the audience.
6:38 | Someone Else’s Story, Maybe Enright did not filter herself into her main character, Veronica—this story is not biographical. Yet the author contemplates this for awhile, thinking aloud: “Two-and-a-half years of sitting in a room [writing this]...maybe it was.” Her sister reassured her of this with a text message that read “Book very good. Not totally autobiographical.”
6:35 | Speechless Having toured with her book, Enright admits that she no longer knows what to say--she's been asked so many questions since her award." Despite having said that, she discusses an obvious topic: the relationship between her book and the prize. "I gained momentum. [My career] was opening up nicely. Booker explodes it.” With a sudden boom in readership, many more than Enright had anticipated, she was, at first, “tender of it”, and worried that the book might fall into the wrong hands. However, readers have not disappointed her. Since her travels, she has found solace in knowing that the business of reading is very private. It is a very close relationship between the writer, the narrator, and the reader. Regardless of how many readers there are, this connection can only happen once, one at a time, one-to-one.
(6:29 | Crippled The Internet connection seems to be quite unstable, but I'll be back, I promise.)
6:28 | Page Turner I see an audience member reading along with his own copy of the novel. Others sip their glasses of wine and soak in the glory of the live reading. Enright's gentle, accented voice allows us to eavesdrop into protagonist Veronica's story, as told in first person. In this family-oriented story, "don't tell mummy" was the mantra of the narrator's childhood. Veronica endures her dear brother Liam's suicide, and from that, the relationship of her family, and that of her own family with her husband and daughters, is examined.
6:20 | To Party or Not to Party? "This is a lovely room for having a good time," says Enright. "So I thought I'd spoil that and leave you weeping." Though many have commented on her bleak novel, Enright believes that in fact, this is a story about love. A hush falls over the audience as she begins to read from the first chapter of her award-winning tome: "Some days I don't remember my mother..."
6:16 | The Winner in Awe Despite being an acclaimed author, Enright takes the stage and begins with a humble speech. "Coming from small country with few people, we'd never imagined [we] would end up in a place like Shanghai. Since the Man Booker I have been just immensely thrown by the fact that I’m here at all.” The audience offers a welcoming laugh.
6:13 | Rules of the Game But of course, any Lit Fest session wouldn't have a proper beginning without a reminder of the housekeeping rules which we (and you) should all be familiar with. Tina K quickly reiterates the "no phone no service" rule and introduces the Consul General of Ireland to provide proper accolades to the featured author.
6:10 | TGIF And I've snuck out of the office for another SILF session, this time with Irish author Anne Enright, winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize for her work [The Gathering] (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/books/review/Schillinger-t.html?ref=review). Despite it being a semi-weekday (it is Friday afterall), Glamour Bar is packed with bookworms as the sun continues to set over the Bund.
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