The thirteen stories in the collection BULLFIGHTING from Irish author Roddy Doyle examine various aspects of male middle age. Eight of these stories first appeared in New Yorker, and in this volume the post-boom stories collectively offer a wry, bittersweet look at the years past and the years yet to come. We see middle-aged men whose wives have left them, middle-aged men whose children have grown and gone, stale marriages, marriages which have converted lovers into friends, the acceptance of disease and aging, and the ever-looming aspect of mortality. Lest I give the wrong impression, these stories are not depressing–instead through these marvellous stories Doyle argues that middle age brings new experiences and new emotions–just when we thought weâ€™d experienced all that life had to offer.
Stewart Oâ€™Nan may simply be genetically incapable of writing a bad book. His characters are written with precision, intelligence and verisimilitude; theyâ€™re so luminously alive that a reader can accurately guess about what theyâ€™re eating for dinner or what brand toothpaste they use.
In EMILY, ALONE, Mr. Oâ€™Nan revisits Emily, the Maxell family matriarch from a prior book, Wish You Were Alone. Anyone who is seeking an action-based book or â€śa story arcâ€ť (as taught in college writing classes) will be sorely disappointed. But for those readers who are intrigued by a near-perfect portrait of a winningly flawed elderly woman who is still alive with anxieties, hopes, and frustrations, this is an unsparingly candid and beautifully rendered novel.
Baba Yaga is a star player in Eastern European myths. The Russian version involves a crackly old witch ready to spark terror in childrenâ€™s hearts. Croatian author Dubravka Ugresic, in her wonderful book, BABA YAGA LAID AND EGG, lays out modern-day interpretations of this age-old myth. These â€świtches,â€ť Ugresic tells us, are all around usâ€”old women limbs curling from arthritis, shuffling along, waiting, pondering the end of their lives. The book is laid out in three sectionsâ€”each a different take on the myth.
February 3, 2010
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Aging, Canongate, Croatia, Dubravka Ugresic, Myth Â· Posted in: Allegory/Fable, Croatia, End-of-Life, James Tiptree Winner, Literary, Russia, Translated, World Lit