October 1, 2006 |
IMAGINE fiction as a place -- a small, close wooden room with a kneeler and a screen. Imagine the writer entering that room and telling her stories to a man behind the screen. Then she gets up and leaves. Sometimes she feels better, lighter. Sometimes she feels false, as if it were all too easy, as if making literature out of people, problems and regrets were a kind of sin. Instead of being a way to find the truth, telling stories is just another form of lying.
March 12, 2000 |
Her austerity demands a command of the facts, which Mary Gordon bows to. White doves and butterflies aside, she was a human, a girl, born in 1412 and burned to death in 1431. She had three brothers, was born into a peasant family in France and at 12 began hearing voices. The voices told her that she must crown the dauphin, Charles, king of France. At 17 she told her parents she was going to help a cousin give birth and never returned.
April 26, 1998 |
Mary Gordon calls her fifth novel, "Spending," "a utopian divertimento." I call it a lark, with more orgasms per page than anything I've read since "Portnoy's Complaint" or "A Sport and a Pastime"--but from the female point of view. In a nutshell, it's about sex and money and art, and it's filled with plenty of all three, but it's the sex that takes you by surprise. It's a departure for Gordon, who isn't exactly known for being light, never mind lusty.
April 7, 1998 |
The critics aren't at all sure how to handle this one. Since her debut 20 years ago with "Final Payments," Mary Gordon, patron saint of American Irish Catholic angst, has been hailed as one of this country's finest writers. In return, she has dutifully produced three more lyrical novels--"The Company of Women," "Men and Angels," "The Other Side," and countless essays and short stories, revelations all of the tyrannies of love and death, family and faith.
May 26, 1996 |
All of us, at some point in our lives, have been lied to by someone we love. The lie is not, of course, the worst part. The discovery of the lie is the worst part--that horrifying brainstem-meltdown moment when we realize that a person we trusted is not at all who we thought they were. If the lie is big enough, the shattering that begins with our heart soon reverberates until the entire universe is spider-webbed with fault-lines and fracture, like a windshield just after impact.
August 29, 1993 |
"All this" is how a woman in "The Rest of Life" refers to what she's telling us, then adds, "By 'all this' I guess I mean how I have shaped my life." And this is very much what these three fine novellas are about: the shape of life, the place of a person in it, the continuity of a body and mind in time. Not stories in the traditional sense, they take the form of extended meditations.