TOIBIN: MOTHERS AND SONS:HOW DOES HE CREATE THE ELEGIAC TONE?

Reading the three most effective stories in this collection,  started me thinking HOW does Toibin create this all-pervading elegiac tone, without adjective-heavy, dense poetic prose. Its the content I suppose: this collection has many stories about a son’s loss of his mother; or it may be something less cataclysmic.(as in “the name of the Game”.)

I feel only three of the stories are wholly successful; I have felt before that Toibin is an uneven writer, though there is some of my own subjectivity here and whether he is reflecting my OWN concerns; but there are longueurs in “The Blackwater Lightship”, and even in the mainly very beautiful and ineffably poignant “Story of the Night”, where my attention wanders. However, the positives,overall, FAR outweigh these negatives.

In the current collection, “The Name of the Game” is about a woman struggling to run a decaying business then starting up a chip shop, but loss(of a business) and familial relationship(with her slightly precocious)son, enter into this seemingly quotidian world; and there are the lines (redolent of Richard in “Story of the Night”-“{She}looked at herself as though a stranger”, which highlight the character’s self-alienation at times; but, simultaneously, there is a kind of peace achieved at the end: “she was safe, she thought”. Melancholy, loss, an all-pervading poignant tone…. but some kind of stoical hope.)

The other two most successful stories, in my opinion,both  have same- sex elements in them:”Three Friends” has a particuarly unexpected and revelatory ending.Very moving.

The (almost) novella, the last story, “A Long Winter”, has a relentless, grieving ,hypnotic repetetiveness about it… endless snow and ice.. never seeming to thaw. And again, its loss of the mother(though her body is never found BECAUSE of the deep snow-I am reminded of Joyce’s “Snow was general all over Ireland”  at the end of  “The Dead”{“Dubliners”}); and there is the start of the renewal of spring but also an  emotional/sexual renewal for the main protagonist, Miquel, whose brother has left for two years conscription; he misses him, and, of course, his mother, so much.A gay man turns up, Manola, and the two, eventually and tentatively, begin to explore their feelings for each other.Everything about this story is elegiac, but it is not hopeless.. a similar effect, again, as that of “Story of the Night”.

All three stories are very beautiful.

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Published by: decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)

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