کتاب خانواده تهی

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The Empty Family, Colm Tóibín
عنوان: خانواده تهی؛ نویسنده: کالم تویبین؛ مترجم: نورا موسوی نیا؛ تهران، کوله پشتی، 1394؛ در 151 ص؛ شابک: 9786007642511؛


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Songs of Lost Innocence

@Silence,@ the first story in this collection by Colm Tóibín, is different from the others, being set in the 1880s and telling of Lady Gregorys love affair with the poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt—this long before her creative association with Yeats. The theme of a remembered love affair, however, crops up in several of the other stories, all of which are contemporary or set in Tóibíns lifetime; many of them have a strongly autobiographical air.

The title story, @The Empty Family,@ captures one of the major themes in the book: return and loss. A writer or academic returns to his home overlooking the sea near Wexford. The people he knew there have moved on with their lives, leaving him somehow incomplete. But he is writing to someone unidentified, perhaps a former lover, who is also connected with these people. The ambiguities make this brief story one of the most effective of all, but they are not all this oblique.

The theme is echoed in two other stories, @One Minus One,@ about another writer returning from America to be at the death-bed of his mother, and @The Colour of Shadows,@ in which a busy Dubliner drives down to Enniscorthy (near Wexford, and the Irish setting of Tóibíns Brooklyn and Nora Webster ) to put his elderly aunt into a home. The theme of an absent or deserting mother overshadows both stories, in a way that gives them a bitter twist, but is not fully resolved.

Return is also the theme of two of the more vigorous and colorful stories. In @Two Women,@ a Hollywood set designer, an elderly tyrant, comes to do a film in Ireland, only to be tormented by memories of her long affair with a celebrated Irish actor. In @The New Spain,@ an even more interesting story, a young Catalan woman, exiled in London for a decade because of her opposition to Franco, returns to the family house on Menorca to claim her inheritance. And when she sees how things have changed, she is feisty enough to do something about it.

These two are the only stories in which the romances are specifically heterosexual. Most of the others have a gay theme somewhere in the background, and in the two other stories set in Catalunya—@Barcelona 1975@ and @The Street@—as also in @The Pearl Fishers@—the gay sex is very explicit indeed. This is not the Colm Tóibín who dealt so discreetly with Henry James sexuality in The Master ; it is the most anatomically specific gay writing I have ever read, and may not be for everyone. And yet, and yet: @The Street,@ the longest story in the book, also paints an intricate picture of a sub-community of indentured workers imported to Barcelona from Pakistan, and the other two stories have the searing honesty of autobiographical truth.

I can respect honesty; I can admire discretion; I just wish that Colm Tóibín could find a single consistent voice, rather than appearing a different writer in each book. I had originally posted this review as five [Amazon] stars; after reflection, I have edged it down.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
I cant remember the last time I was blown away by a short story collection, but Colm Toibins @Empty Family@ left me breathless, envious, inspired, and overjoyed to have found a writer whose stories are about something other than the fumbling of adolescence.

The stories, set in Dublin, Barcelona, and America, all capture moments of difficult intimacy: the desire, pain, and loss between men and women, men and men, men and their mothers and grandmothers, and women and their families. In each, Toibin carves out a human, sacred heart of loneliness; he accomplishes this with such compassion and tenderness that youll want to look away, shield yourself, and yet the beauty and honesty of his characters will leave you loyal, earnest, and profoundly changed.

My favorite among these is @Silence,@ a story about a wealthy woman who has an adulterous affair but who, after losing her husband and ending her affair with the other man, has a burning desire to relive her passion through confession to novelist Henry James. Another favorite is @The Street@--absolutely gorgeous--in which two Pakistani workers in Barcelona begin an illicit love affair--a taboo in a community ruled by obedience and fear. This story will break your heart, leave you paranoid and fearful and wishing that love, in whatever form, could just exist without terror.

Above everything, Toibin impresses me not only with his characters and situations and language, but also his bravery and honesty in exploring eroticism, which he does with such grace and lyricism and quiet power. I am eager to read everything hes written, and strongly recommend @The Empty Family@ to anyone who wishes to renew her passion for humanity, and to any writer attempting to tell an honest-to-god story.

مشاهده لینک اصلی


Im not an avid reader of short stories, they usually leave me unsatisfied, but I loved Brooklyn, Colm Toibins award winning recent novel so I decided to try again. The Empty Family is a collection of nine short stories which are linked by the themes of exile, loneliness and family. Most of the protagonists find themselves in limbo-like situations, caught in a pivotal moment where the past and present collide, where home and belonging seem vague and elusive concepts.

All of the stories (whether first or third person narratives) share Toibins sparse, restrained style which never spills over into mawkishness no matter how tragic the circumstances. Of the nine, my personal favourites are Silence and The Colour of Shadows. Silence features Lady Gregory, now a widow, reminscing about a previous affair with a young poet. Her married life was devoid of romance yet she hangs onto the memory of this sweet but brief affair. The Colour of Shadows also impressed me with its candid look at family relationships, both those filled with love and those lacking in love.

Despite the sadness underlying many of the stories, the characters never lapse into self-pity, on the contrary, they find their lives much more fulfilling than those @acted@ out by more conventional types. I found I had to slow down my reading in order to fully appreciate the intensity of the narratives, indeed it was more like reading a volume of poetry rather than prose. The only downside to this collection for me was the inclusion of graphic sex scenes in some of the stories - this seemed to deviate from the overall tone of @less is more@ which permeates most of the anthology. All in all, a very impressive read although I still prefer Toibins novels.


مشاهده لینک اصلی
I do not think short stories are Tóibíns strongest suit - I think longer forms serve him better (my favorite story was the longest story). A good short story can be (though I dont want to make any really strong normative claims) a bit like a slap out of nowhere, and he doesnt have that talent, which I think I . . . probably should have guessed before reading these.

But my evaluation of this book is probably not totally fair, because Brooklyn is still fresh in my mind, and I love Brooklyn with an adolescent passion. (Picture the sobbing girls in A Hard Days Night. Now go read Brooklyn.) These are all perfectly good stories, and I wouldnt be like @Jesus, the New Yorker has really let itself go, right?@ if one of them turned up in an issue (and some of them have). One of the cover blurbs (bastions of reliability, I know!) mentions that this would be a good introduction to his work. That seems to me a fair evaluation of them, but I imagine if youve loved his novels - or, in my case, novel - then you would find these a bit of a disappointment. As Ive mentioned, I know this is unfair: a combination of my personal aesthetics re: short stories and the fresh memory of Brooklyn conspired against this collection, so.

All the same, he can do better.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
When comparing novels to short stories, a friend of mine recently told me that she doesnt need all the detail and story line of a novel. She just wants to meet different characters, like chatting with someone on a train ride where you get just a glimpse into their life on that day. Ive never been a good short story reader - Im always looking for the story arc, wondering what the points was, and why there was no obvious resolution. So now Im trying to approach them differently. Its hard work for me not to look for the novel in each story but Toibins collection, The Empty Family, was a good start at learning to read without those expectations...just reading to meet people. And he is wonderful at creating people. Every story brings you inside a very different head. The real action of each story usually happened before the story even begins but now you are dealing with the aftermath or the regret or the anger. I bought this book in Dublin and most of the stories take place there, mentioning neighborhoods and streets that I walked daily on my vacation but the stories could take place anywhere to any one. Recommended for people who just want to dip in and out of other peoples lives.



مشاهده لینک اصلی
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