19 April 2011

Molly Fox's Birthday (Deirdre Madden)

Almost nothing happens in Molly Fox's Birthday. The unnamed narrator--a playwright on writing holiday at an old friend's flat (Molly Fox, a stage actor of some renown) in Dublin while her friend is in New York--dawdles, dines, thinks about her history with Molly, her own family, her similarly longstanding friend Andrew, breaks a pitcher, receives three callers (all looking for Molly and a bit disappointed), and doesn't get a lick of work done on her new play. There is a cat, and a hedgehog, and an olive wood bowl from the Holy Land.

It's a novel that calls to mind Virginia Woolf for me, in the quiet interiority and domesticity of its narrative and the forthright, liquid beauty of its prose. And, too, that Madden is aware that the "smallness" of these things belies their great importance. The book is about memory, and connection--with family, friends, lovers--about the benign and necessary falsehoods of love, protection, and the theater. So I take it back--it may be that almost everything happens.

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