Colm Toibin’s Stories

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19 February 2010

Thanks to one of my students for turning me on to stories by Colm Toibin. I love this description from a wonderful story called “Silence,” which features the real-life characters of Lady Gregory, the poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, and Henry James:

She thought of them like food, Lady Anne all watery vegetables, or sour, small potatoes, or salted fish, and the poet her husband like lamb cooked slowly for hours with garlic and thyme, or goose stuffed at Christmas. And she remembered in her childhood the watchful eye of her mother, her mother making her eat each morsel of bad winter food, leave her plate clean.

This passage reminds me of my previous posts “On Character Psychology.”  The bit about her mother is really all I need – to get a sharp sense of Lady Gregory and how she will feel about Blunt and his wife, and “why.”  The convergence of different kinds of appetites in this story is brilliant.

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