Saturday, June 9, 2012

the last book I ever read (Anne Enright's The Gathering, excerpt four)

from Anne Enright's The Gathering, winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize:

When she offers him tea, it is with a surprising wobble in the saucer, and he takes it quietly and sets it down. The biscuits are, in the circumstances, a little garish. With their fluffy white coconut sprinkled over pink marshmallow, the biscuits are a bit beside the point. Ada knows that he is sad, but she has yet to sympathise. Lamb Nugent has a wife, Kathleen, and four healthy children. He has no cause for complaint. What he asks is what Ada refuses most to give, he asks her to believe in his grief, the ordinary grief of a man with a wife he does not love overmuch and four children who he does not, for a moment, understand; the usual grief of men when they find that they have done nothing, and there is nothing left for them to do. He wants her to pity him his perfectly pleasant life, and the fact that it does not belong to him; the fact that he is a ghost in his own house, looking at his wife, who drives him up the wall, and his four children, who rob each breath as it comes out of his mouth. While he sits here with a woman too old to bed, the keeper of his treasures, the woman who will not love him, though she really knows she should.

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