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"Solstice"
by Anne Enright
Originally published in the March 13, 2017 issue of The New Yorker.

Now we’re talking. Enright is one of my favorites, so I’m feeling a personal investment in the fiction this issue that I really haven’t felt in a while.

Though I’ve never read any of Enright’s short stories, her interview with Treisman (here) speaks to me and I have confidence that she knows what she’s doing. I feel I’m going to love this one.

And so, with that, let’s hope I’m not disappointed! I look forward to the discussion!

By | 2017-03-06T15:52:31+00:00 March 6th, 2017|Categories: Anne Enright, New Yorker Fiction|Tags: |13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. debashish March 11, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Surprisingly, no discussion on this story yet!

  2. Dennis Lang March 12, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Right. And heck, it’s only two pages! We begin with the protagonist losing his car and for me this sense of loss persists, a character floating adrift over his own life–vividly aware of its transience– observing it from the outside looking in, while it moves ineluctably forward beyond his means of intimately even communicating with the others who occupy it.
    Anyway, again for me, without attempting to speculate on subterranean meanings (that are over my head), I found the story quite engaging–a snapshot of this man and his thoughts when one moment in time gives way to the next. In this instance the moment happens to be celestial, arbitrarily loaded with significance.

  3. Trevor Berrett March 13, 2017 at 11:46 am

    The strangest thing: I read the story last Monday and planned to write some thoughts here when I had the time. When that time came, I couldn’t really remember the story!

    I know I liked it, but some ephemeral quality it possessed was too strong for me to grab hold of anything long term. I need to read it again, which is not a big problem since it is short and it is Anne Enright. Still!

  4. David March 13, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Trevor, you are not alone. I read it last week. Thought it was fine, but nothing special. By Friday I could not remember what it was about.

  5. Avataram March 16, 2017 at 5:36 am

    Read the story and then read the wonderful “To Juan at the Winter Solstice”. Remember the poem, the story was forgotten as quickly as it was read.

  6. William March 16, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    the language of poetry is so powerful. and this poem is so mentally provoking.

  7. Greg March 16, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    I liked your thoughts on this Dennis. Thank you for your succinct post!

    My favourite part of the story was this:

    “He wants to tell her how he sat in the car, outside his own house, thinking, Whatever happens when I walk in the door, that’s the thing. When I walk in the door, I will find it. The answer or the question, one or the other. It will be there.

    And what did he find? These people. This.”

  8. Dennis Lang March 16, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Yes Greg, quoting a very revealing passage. Thank you!

    And BTW, for me the best part of this blog, as a long-time “New Yorker” subscriber, is not necessarily those comments that feel the need to “rate” a piece of fiction as good or bad (although that’s fine when one does) it’s those readers that try to get inside the story with respect for the author, to try to pull out where the author is taking the readers. Can be quite meaningful.

    .Appreciate your comments Greg!

  9. David March 17, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Dennis, I hope you don’t mind if I go off on a little rant here … but I have never understood why people will praise writers for making ideas that are contained in a story obscure or otherwise difficult to see. Making it difficult for a reader to know what you are really talking about is surely a vice, not a virtue. If I need other people to tell me what the author is trying to do with a story, that is either a criticism of me as a reader or of the writer as an author. Sometime someone will explain a story and I will think, “Oh, I see it now. I should have seen that before.” This means I see the fault as mine. But if I think, “Oh, I see it now. That required a lot of work to figure out,” then the fault is the author’s.
    .
    With works that are written by people from other cultures than one’s own or written in a different era sometimes ideas can be more obscure and more in need of digging out because of one’s lack of familiarity with the social context in which they were written. But for a modern work written by an author who comes from a similar culture or the same culture as the reader this should not be needed. Being opaque is not the same as being clever. One can deal with sophisticated, complex, and fascinating ideas without being abstruse.
    .
    In general, if I need other readers to get inside a story for me to help me see where the author is trying to take me it’s either because I am reading it badly or it was written badly. Discussions of literature that start with the question, “What the hell was that about?” usually are ones that are less fun and more about problems in the writing. The better conversations are ones where we already all know what the author was doing and how they were doing it and then share opinions on the artfulness with which that was done. Or in simpler terms, whether we thought it was an example of good or bad writing and why we thought that. Successful writing does not hide the ideas so we need a team of people to pull them all out.
    .
    Ok. End of rant.

  10. Dennis Lang March 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Hey David–A fine rant!!

    However, it seems I poorly expressed myself with my comment above. I don’t necessarily regard any fiction as a mathematical problem to be deciphered where there may be a single interpretation that adds up to single outcome.(Although some of my favorite writers, Borges for example, are exploring an erudite terrain highly enriched through analysis and some knowledge of philosophical context.)That’s the beauty of it for me, how ideas are crafted and narratives conveyed. I don’t see it as a dogmatic process. What’s of interest to me in this blog (and a credit to Trevor for founding it) is how others subjectively may read and be impacted by an author’s work and effort, that may well be different for everyone.

  11. David March 17, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Dennis, if I might follow up one rant with another mini-rant … I’ll try not to make a habit of this … I promise … The number of correct interpretations of a story is equal to the number of interpretations that are actually in the text (usually just one) and not equal to how many different subjective readings different people have of a text. It might be interesting sometimes to hear how a particular reader reacted to a particular text based on subjective facts about their own life and experience, but that is more about the person than it is about the text. Unless the person offering this subjective perspective is someone I know well or their perspective is particularly interesting on its own (which happens a lot less frequently than people offering those perspectives might think) then I usually don’t find much value in hearing them. The most feared opening phrase to a post here might be, “I can relate to this story because … [insert long personal anecdote here].” That’s nice, but I’m just not that into you.
    .
    End of rant. This time I mean it… probably….

  12. Dennis Lang March 17, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Hah!! David, fine with me. Keep on ranting. I hear you. Fuel for the conversation. It’s good! Heck, for all I know some of you out there in cyberspace are renowned literary critics and famous novelists. Doesn’t really matter. Again, personally, that’s not the reason I’ve enjoyed the contributors here.

    BTW, Trevor’s “reading” of the Munro story posted today I thought was absolutely beautiful!!

  13. Sean H March 18, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    This was a fine rendering of suburban unbliss and a hot, meaty center of the pot pie, but the solstice metaphor/title/ending were a sub par casing for the otherwise fine vittles about the family strife that erodes a person a little bit at a time each day. The obnoxious SJW daughter, the husband and wife who know each other too well, the boy that is still child enough to retain some innocence despite slipping away towards encroaching teenagehood, those were all deftly presented, as was the opening image of the guy having difficulty finding his car. The tedium of the everyday is good stuff, and this had echoes of a John Lanchester piece from a few years back (“Expectations,” excerpted from his novel Capital), but it needed a less obvious/”on the nose” frame for this otherwise satisfying slice of life portrait.

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