Monday, 1 September 2008



We were up with the lark on Sunday morning, wandering about, enjoying the calm and quiet main area – most others were still tent-bound. At half twelve Anne Enright and Claire Keegan were to read and discuss the short story with Declan Meade of the Stinging Fly, in the Arts Council tent. Claire couldn’t make it, so we had more of Anne. She spoke frankly and honestly about her writing life, as always, and she read two stories from Taking Pictures, the one about organic farming (title escapes me & I'm too agitated with computers/the net just now to go and check) and 'Shaft'.

Anne said ‘The short story is an instinctive form’. I agree with that and I’d also say that non-short fiction writers (pure novelists) often don’t ‘get’ that. She also called it ‘a modest, unassuming form’. She said she doesn’t do plot (yay!) as life is plotless and more of a story. She said that her narrators are always unsure about what happens in the same way she herself is unsure about what will happen in life or a given situation.
‘You’re just writing sentences,’ Anne said. ‘See where it goes.’
At the Q&A someone mentioned that she often writes in the first person and she said that she’s just not very good at the third person; that when she writes it, she writes a ‘close’ third person.

Again, feeling that it’s nice for a writer to be asked a few questions, I asked if she ever writes historical short stories. ‘Not so far,’ she said, but she’d like to try it. She also said she is writing a new novel but refused to say what it’s about. She kind of cheekily told Declan it was ‘an impertinent question’ when he asked. It’s a good policy. I have a sign on my notice board that says: ‘The story you’re writing is a secret’, to stop me talking the good out of it. I’m guessing it’s the same for most writers. They want to keep the thing to themselves until it reaches a point where it seems to be going OK.

All in all, she’s a very good interviewee: funny and honest and irreverent. It was a great event.


OSLO said...

I'm a HUGE fan of Anne Enright so it's lovely to hear news of her. When I went to her reading in Kilkenny, she read 'When the Girl Died' which was mesmerising. I can still hear her voice in my head. Shame Claire Keegan couldn't make it; I've been working my way, on and off, through 'Walk the Blue Fields' since my Irish trip.

Women Rule Writer said...

Yes, I was looking forward to a conversation between them. They both always have such good things to say. Still, we were more than happy with Anne. It was like having her all to ourselves, if you know what I mean!

BarbaraS said...

I've heard her read her own work at QUB and she answered 'sentences' before to us. She's tremendously modest too - I think she's a fabulous writer, with a very strong 'voice.'