Yesterday's Weather, By Anne Enright

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The Independent Culture

Before winning the Man Booker Prize for her compelling family saga, The Gathering, Enright was best known for off-beat books including The Wig My Father Wore and The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch. As a writer of short stories, however, she has always found her stride.

Yesterday's Weather brings together stories written over 19 years, including all of Taking Pictures (2008) and much of The Portable Virgin (1991). As Enright gamely admits in her introduction, her earlier stories were largely preoccupied with the "woes of middle age" - problems, she now says, she got mostly "wrong". But whatever her authorial misgiving, these candid tales of compromised marriages and mid-life miscarriages still leap from the page. As always her style is intimate, humorous and to the point. "I had sex with this guy one Saturday night..." says a narrator; "I was up to my tonsils with nappies and mayhem" confides another.

Enright's men and women prove a depressed lot, but only in the way that most people are. Let down by relationships, and only temporarily assuaged by sex, they can't decide whether to "rot" or "run". In the opening story, "Until the Girl Died", a wife forces herself to lay flowers on her husband's lover's grave; in a later entry a woman marries well, but hankers after the touch of her deranged former flat mate. Like so many characters in Irish fiction, Enright's Dubliners are inveterate globetrotters, but whether they end up kissing strangers in Paris or Rome they can never quite escape themselves.

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