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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Friday, 9 November 2007

On having just read Edna O'Brien's The Light of Evening published last year, - and I finished reading her in 2 days, yesterday - I was pleased to once more engage with an author who never tires of producing a distinct form, one after another, with narration.

Her stories - in this case, featuring a distorted mother & daughter relationship - are not always easy to read I suppose, unless you care for an unexpected form. O'Brien's technique of writing in a sing-song structure with the aid of numerous commas is difficult to comprehend. You could have been listening to careless gossip but one, meticulously structured

She may also jump from chapter to chapter, tackling a plot that differs from a straightforward sequence. She may hold her plot up to the reader from sudden unsuspecting angles.

The consequences could be dire. In slight horror, you may be left wondering...as to the whereabouts of a certain intimate character that appeared to whizz in from nowhere - make an impact on another character's life and then zoom out again as if it never was.

In fact, several characters step in and out to conjure up a surreal mood. I could have been at a theatre really or the cinema.

But O'Brien's unusual writing reminds me once more of why her stories stay unforgettable and how they differ from the mainstream.

She draws up fictitious relationships - slightly based on real life - ones that are painful, dodgy and may even be many times left unsolved. Still, somewhere along the way there is redemption.

In The Light of Evening, a mother disapproves of her daughter's choices with marriage and writing. Dilly disapproves of Elenora' stories that are considered radical and unacceptable in conservative Ireland.
In real life, O'Brien's mother was said to have hated the thought of her daughter being a novelist.

I was happy to see Edna O'Brien's books being sold in Dublin bookstores once more. This from having listened to her interviews many times in the past and understanding at the time, from the pain in her voice how she often found it hard to reconcile with the fact that her earlier novels eg The Country Girls part of a subsequent trilogy - had been banned in Ireland and her early printed stories, burnt.

Not so anymore although the Irish novelist continues to make her home in London.
The Light of Evening is dedicated to O'Brien's mother and her motherland.


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