How it’s New York: Mary Gordon teaches at Barnard College in New York and participated in one of the New York Public Library’s “Word for Word” open air readings in Bryant Park.
How it’s Irish: She is one of the leading contemporary Irish-American novelists.
“There is no falseness in either of them, Adam and Miranda,”
the narrator says and the utter earnestness of these boomers permeates the narrative, and, at times, this earnestness is both sweet and deliberately wry. The young Miranda thinks to herself that:
she doesn’t want to be a wife, she wants to be someone’s great love. She is afraid that this will not happen before the world is annihilated.
What struck me reading the novel was that the boomers thought it was about them changing the world, when in fact it was about them, full stop. The phrase, the personal is political, should be shot. It was a tragically misdirected time, focused on the individual’s response to the world rather than the world itself. I was also reading, coincidentally, Thomas Bernhard’s rapturously misanthropic novel, Extinction, also set in Rome. Bernhard who grew up in Austria in WWII, set about eviscerating post-War Austria in his plays and novels. The novels are masterpieces in their utterly dark and utterly hilarious excavating of the Austrian post-war bourgeoisie, pretending that nothing bad happened, no one was to blame, in recursive, obsessive prose that speaks to the trauma (but funny!). His novel (go and read it now!), The Loser, focuses on two fictional classmates of Glenn Gould, who give up playing the piano in the face of seeing it played by a genius, a blast of consciousness compared to mousy Adam.
Some place to fall in love.