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Old 31st Dec 2007, 21:52   #1
John Self
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Default Book 39: I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore

Share your thoughts here on our first Book Group read of 2008.

I gave it , enjoying it but not as much as most of the others of his I've read recently: as his sixth novel I'd place it below most of his first five, perhaps level with An Answer from Limbo and The Feast of Lupercal, but below Judith Hearne, Ginger Coffey and The Emperor of Ice-Cream.

More in 2008!
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Old 1st Jan 2008, 13:28   #2
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Default Re: Book 39: I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore

I really liked it, though not as much as Judith Hearne. Where it lost half a star for me is the insinuation that she felt all this because of PMT. Was that a joke?

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Old 1st Jan 2008, 13:39   #3
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Default Re: Book 39: I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore

I don't know. I think that thinking of it as a symptom of PMT was her way of reassuring herself that it would all go away and was just a cyclical thing, rather than a permanent slide into "the dooms" which means "I will never be happy again" (p 228 in my Flamingo paperback).

The only review for this book on Amazon describes it as 'stream-of-consciousness.' Surely not, or am I mistaken in thinking that stream-of-consciousness is, well, a stream of consciousness, generally ungrammatical and a 'flow' of thoughts as they crowd into the narrator's mind - as in Molly Bloom's soliloquy in Ulysses? I am Mary Dunne is not stream of consciousness, it's just a first person narrative. An internal monologue in part, and partly a depiction of the day's events.
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Old 1st Jan 2008, 14:15   #4
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Default Re: Book 39: I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore

I've posted some thoughts on the book on my blog. I'm reluctant to copy and paste this into the thread as I'm conscious that this should really be a discussion rather than a place to dump prepared pieces, but if it's easier I can edit this to post the text in here.
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 1:18   #5
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Default Re: Book 39: I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore

This is a re-read for me, the first time being a good decade ago. A 1/2 leaning towards for me. This book felt like a pastiche of the last few books I read. Like JS, I felt echoes of Light Years in the theme. It also has a Yatesian ethos, as in Young Heart Crying, focusing very much on failed writers, alcoholism and serial monogamy. Even hints of Wish Her Safe at Home could be felt-with the Mackie character, unrequited love and the "internal dialogue" device. Finally the faint hum of Catholicism- underscored by the Mexican divorce and the Juarez Doom suggested shades of The Power and the Glory. Very interesting coincidence!

I am a Brian Moore fan from way back, and this book is archetypically his in a way. It has the psychologically doomed character whose weakness and actions continue to spiral toward overt disaster or at least, covert tragedy. And, like other novels of his, I came to be increasingly angry at the main character.

Mary Dunne seemed like nothing more than a puppet for the various actors in her life, reacting to her strings being pulled and doubting herself so much as to allow others to create-or re-create her memories. Mary's passivity in the face of the likes of Janice Sloane and Ernest Truelove made me want to scream. So, whereas, from the first lines of the story "Memento Ergo Sum" when I was ready to to cheer her on, towards the end I realized her motto should have been "alia memento, ergo ego ero" (Col, how's the latin?)
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 8:00   #6
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Default Re: Book 39: I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oryx
"alia memento, ergo ego ero" (Col, how's the latin?)
...and what does it mean?
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 8:15   #7
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Default Re: Book 39: I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore

"I remember something different, therefore I will be"??
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 9:19   #8
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Default Re: Book 39: I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oryx View Post
Mary Dunne seemed like nothing more than a puppet for the various actors in her life, reacting to her strings being pulled and doubting herself so much as to allow others to create-or re-create her memories. Mary's passivity in the face of the likes of Janice Sloane and Ernest Truelove made me want to scream.
I disagree. The scenes with Janice were very realistic - and I think Mary reacted in exactly the right way - Janice was only pretending to be her friend - I doubt that Janice has any real friends. I'm not sure I'd call Mary passive - rather "resigned". She was shocked at what Janice said, but not that it was Janice who said it. A quick retort from Mary would have been unrealistic. She managed to get away later in the day, avoiding the mink coat expedition. If she were passive, she'd have continued with that.

The Ernest Truelove visit was much less realistic. It seemed quite forced to me, and to be happening on the same day as the Janice incident didn't give it any more credence.

The real tragedy of Mary's mental state is that she is hiding it from Terence, who truly loves her and would stand by her and is not likely to think she's insane. She thinks he'll commit her to an institution! Was that quite common in those days?
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 14:23   #9
Oryx
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Default Re: Book 39: I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore

"alia memento, ergo ego ero"

Well, if I got it right, it should say " others remember, therefore I will be".

Regarding Janice, what I mean by Mary's passivity is the fact that she didn't defend herself against Janice's accusations of promiscuity etc.
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Old 2nd Jan 2008, 15:27   #10
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Default Re: Book 39: I AM MARY DUNNE by Brian Moore

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self View Post
I've posted some thoughts on the book on my blog. I'm reluctant to copy and paste this into the thread as I'm conscious that this should really be a discussion rather than a place to dump prepared pieces, but if it's easier I can edit this to post the text in here.

I like reviews in amongst the discussion. It helps frame things and, as you've suggested JS, might make things easier? I would ask what the others think but don't want to cause distraction. The theme of what constitutes a woman's identity is so exciting. I have to finish this pronto!
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