Monday, March 15, 2010

Short Story Monday: "(She Owns) Every Thing" by Anne Enright

It's an Irish author celebration for Short Story Mondays all month long! My task of collecting stories became much easier when I discovered The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction, edited by Colm Toibin, on my library's website. It was ordered through inter-library loan and arrived late last week.

This 1000+ page book weighs in at several pounds and contains novel excerpts and short stories written by Irish authors from Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) and Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) all the way up to Colum McCann and Emma Donoghue. An introduction by Toibin is also included.

While catching up on blog reading over the weekend, I was intrigued by this review of Yesterday's Weather: Stories by Anne Enright found at Books in the City. I've been meaning to read Enright, and quickly chose her story as a starting point in the massive collection!

"(She Owns) Every Thing" opens:
"Cathy was often wrong, she found it more interesting. She was wrong about the taste of bananas. She was wrong about the future of the bob. She was wrong about where her life ended up. She loved corners, surprise, changes of light."
Cathy leads a rather conventional life, married to a 'safe' man, working behind a handbag counter in Dublin.
"Quietly, one customer after another was guided to the inevitable and surprising choice of a bag that was not 'them' but one step beyond who they thought they might be.
Cathy knew what handbags were for. She herself carried everything (which wasn't much) in one pocket, or the other."
One day Cathy unexpectedly fall in love with a female customer. She is confused, and her life begins to come apart as she yearns for feelings (and things) she's never owned. At the conclusion of this slightly sad story, Cathy possibly suffers a breakdown, taking out her pain on a brown leather handbag. I could not find a link to this story (it is included in Yesterday's Weather), but did learn that it has been made into a short film.

Anne Enright was born in 1962 and is most well-known for her novel The Gathering, winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize. Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.


  1. I really love the cover of that anthology, although I'd be intimidated by its size! lol

    I joined the Irish Authors Challenge, and already I'm discovering so many new authors I want to read. :)

  2. I am a huge fan of Irish literature; such a wealth or great writers and writing come from the Emerald Isle. I read a short story of Anne Enright called "The Portable Virgin" (from a collection by the same name) that was very good.

    I've just checked and I have a Word copy of the story still on my mac, a copy from when I was at uni, if you want me to email it? Let me know.

  3. Sounds very fascinating....did you enjoy it???

  4. Like Eva, I love the cover of the anthology! And the Anne Enright story sounds good. I've never read anything by her, but she's been on my radar for ages.

  5. That is one gorgeous cover, and a most interesting sounding story. I have The Gathering & promised myself I'd read it this March (there's still half of it left). We'll see if I make it. Don't place any bets. But thanks for the introduction; can't wait to see what other gems you pull out of this book!

  6. Eva - I have to approach an anthology this size with the attitude that I'm just dipping in here and there, otherwise it's too overwhelming.

    Paperback Reader - I'd love to read another of Enright's stories! Thanks so much... my email is on the profile page.

    Staci - I'm liking the story more and more as I think about it... such an interesting, but sad character.

    Nymeth - Enright's been on my radar for ages, too. Colleen's review got me thinking of her, so the timing was right. I may request Yesterday's Weather from my library.

    DS - I'm probably going to read a few more of her stories before I commit to a novel, but I've been curious about The Gathering ever since it won the Booker. I'll let you go first ;-)

  7. It sounds like your month-long trip through Irish short stories is taking you into some very interesting places. This one sounds different but interesting.

  8. Margot - Yes, my trip to Ireland is turning into quite an interesting adventure. I wonder where next week will lead!

  9. Sounds interesting, especially the note that she sells handbags, but carries her own things in her pockets.

  10. Carolsnotebook - I loved the quote that she knew what handbags were for, yet carried her things in her pockets....really added to the intensity of the story!

  11. I read an Enright short awhile ago. I'd be interested to hear what you think about it. I didn't care for it too much. Here's my review and link to the story, if your interested:

    This one sounds more promising to me.

  12. I do remember this story from Yesterday's Weather but didn't realize it had been made into a short film - thanks for linking to that!

  13. Teddy Rose - Thanks for reminding me! I bookmarked it after I read your post and then forgot about it.

    Booksnyc - I was really surprised when the film link came up in google. I was trying to figure out whether it was in the collection you mentioned. I'm glad to have finally read something by Enright!


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