Next week’s story is The Start of the Affair by Nuruddin Farah.

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Rated clean for language, but not so clean for audio quality. Maya spent the week at a writer’s conference, and Anais edited the audio for the first time. Please forgive the audio rookie.

This week we read a short story by Irish author Colm Tóibín, whose novel The Blackwater Lightship Gerald has read before. Gerald loved the short story, but Maya and Anais who are new to Tóibín had lukewarm feelings towards the story. Anais was turned off by the lack of conflict, and Maya was alienated by a surprisingly distant voice for a first person narrative.

Don’t forget, to rate the story! For the history of our goofy system, see Anais’ post “Read Short Stories or Ray Bradbury Cries.” If you want to design a Bradberry, we’d love to see it.

Listeners gave last week’s story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver 5 Bradberries.

So tell us, on a scale of 1-6 Bradberries, how do you rate “The Empty Family”? Tell us in the comments below or via voicemail, and we will give the final tally on the next episode.

Next week’s story is The Start of the Affair by Nuruddin Farah.

2 comments on The Empty Family – Colm Tóibín – Literary Roadhouse Ep 26

  1. Todd Williams says:

    I found this story to be beautiful and haunting. I didn’t care much for it at first, but found that I really enjoyed reading it a second time. (I always read once before listening to the podcast and then once after). I’m pretty close to Gerald on likesdislikes of this story.

    The language is beautiful throughout and I thought the waveocean metaphor was quite powerful; (at the risk of pointing out the obvious) I liked how his descriptions of the wavesocean are parallel to the course his life has run, how he left home in “a burst of brave unknowing energy” only to be pulled back home ‘in a slurp of undertow” to “end in nothing on a small strand” and will ultimately “rejoin the empty family”.

    I agree with Maya that this is almost more of a prose poem than a story; it is sort of rambling and open ended and once I stopped looking for obvious story structure I enjoyed it a lot more. I realize as I write this that we can’t even be sure what the narrator is: a gay man? a woman?
    I didn’t find the narrator’s solitude depressing, it’s more of a wistful glance at a life that has happened in the way lives will happen (something these damn millennials just can’t relate to, yet 🙂 ). I like to think the story is a sort of invitation for whomever the narrator left behind to come to Ireland.

    I’m going 5 Bradberries on this one.

    1. Gerald Hornsby says:

      Good review, Todd. I wonder whether the ‘Britishness’ of the writing didn’t quite make the journey across the Atlantic for the other two.
      It is haunting, with a strong narrative running through it, which I always like. It doesn’t really have a ‘finish’ to it, which I don’t mind in literary fiction. You can still enjoy the writing without having an neat, wrapped-up ending to the narrative.

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