Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More on Enright's The Gathering: Lamb Nugent

Enright’s novel opens with the news of a beloved brother’s death. To understand that death, she goes back and back and back to reconstruct the life of her parents and, especially, her grandparents. Much of this reconstruction, as Veronica the narrator continually admits, is speculation, guess work. Still, as the story deepens and repeats, as Veronica remembers her grandmother and the two men who loved her (her husband and Lamb Nugent, the man who saw her first but did not marry her), these guesses gather weight and come to seem like an approximation of truth: “What did she see in him? He must be reassembled; click clack…” (14)

That “click clack” is genius, it seems to me: shocking and brutal, it reminds us that this reconstruction is a fiction but it also makes us imagine the body of a man long dead was, in fact, a body, made of skin and bones. And she asks us to think about the body as human (and thus imbued with will, emotion, motives), physical (full of fluids and sinew), and mechanical (click clack).

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