Book Review – Anne Enright – Taking Pictures

I am not a great fan of short stories, so when my friend gave me a whole book full of them by one author I was, to say the least, a little sceptical. Since I am interested in finding out what my friend likes to read, and since I knew this was one of her favourite authors, I decided to give it a go. It’s been waiting a long time on my bookshelf and for that I do apologise to my friend, even though I know she doesn’t mind. 🙂

The book in question is called “Taking Pictures”  and it’s by Anne Enright. The book won the Man Booker Prize in 2007.

Anne Enright is Irish, a fact that comes across in the nuances of her writing of this collection of short stories. As I said, I’m not a great fan of short stories. I am more of an epic fantasy type reader and usually enjoy books which come in trilogies or more. That being said, I am also a little bit of what I like to call a ‘Goldilocks’ reader. That is to say, I like stories to be neither too short nor too long. I like them to be just right!

Although I found it a little tricky getting into these stories, once I had a few under my belt and adjusted to her voice in the writing, I found I was trying to find moments to get in a quick read. The fact that all the stories were short did still annoy me greatly, but I think that is more of a testament to Enright’s talent for pulling you into her character’s minds very quickly.

There were some stories which I found just confusing, but yet still quite truthful and deep. I suspect that had a lot to do with the cultural references and turn of phrase that I was unfamiliar with. There were others where I just got really frustrated because I was desperate to know more about the characters. I wanted their full background. I wanted a long and drawn out explanation of what happened next and where their lives ended up. Sadly (for me) Enright only allowed me to have small snippets of pieces of moments in these people’s lives, and quite frankly… it left me wanting!

How can you not love the incredible, plain and simple truth in a statement like…

“…but it seemed that a week on a cruise liner had the same number of days and nights in it as a week in her kitchen, after all.”

Something about that particular story was very real and touching for me. I am glad I read this book, and although I don’t think I’d ever read it again, and am definitely still more of a fan of the novel than the short story, it really gave me some insight into why my friend loved this book so much. The language is sometimes brutal and has an almost amateur sound to it, but when you concentrate, you can tell that it has in fact been crafted that way. The amount of meaning and picture generation created using so few words is very clever indeed.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who would like to get a little insight into the minds of a few different characters as seen by one woman. I also recommend it from the point of view of well written narrative with unique and individual styling.

I am back into a series that I’ve held off reading for a while now in order to get stuck into my list of books that have been awaiting my attention. I think I’m finally at the end of the list now, so I probably won’t do a review for a while. The next big series I will embark on is going to be “Game of Thrones”. I have watched all of the first two seasons of the TV show and absolutely loved it, so I have to read the books now. Of course I’m a bit miffed that I did it the wrong way around in this instance and watched before reading, but hey, these things happen sometimes!

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