NIGHT by Edna O'Brien


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I would have been great in the heyday of the Greek times, propped up between temples, tearing hair out and invoking the many and opposing Fates."" Thus Mary Hanrahan, one of Edna O'Brien's former country gifts in the middle of ""bloody nowhere"" -- one of her disorderly young women lying loveless and sleepless on a bed she's probably never made. It's night, inside and out, as she' counts sheep -- black sheep -- a string of desultory lovers, all sorts and conditions with all sorts and conditions of ""dangles"" and ""preens,"" and a quondam husband Dr. Lightfoot, one of the ""original princes of darkness"" and the boy they had who went on and away, far away. Scarpering here and there, her ""winding effluviums"" keep returning to Coose, where she grew up, a ""glorified bog,"" and there's a fine piece on the resistant death of her mother Lil, month by day until it was done ""so simple. . .like the shutters going up on a big house once the season was over."" Now she's alone, still alone, house-sitting for some friends, leaving a litter of stains -- liquor, cigarettes, tears. Mary has something in common with all of Edna O'Brien's ""casualties of peace"" -- victims of the raddled lives they lead but still survivors, still hoping for that one ""bolden luminous love."" Who's to deny this talent, limited in one sense, unconfined in another, or this ballsy wild Irish rose who is so brazenly, scaldingly, attractively alive. She's got style.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1972
Publisher: Knopf