NORMAL PEOPLE By Sally Rooney
There is something about Sally Rooney’s novels that makes people embrace (and occasionally reject) them like a long-sought romantic partner. Though both her 2017 debut, “Conversations With Friends,” and her new novel, “Normal People,” are set in an exactingly depicted Dublin and West Ireland in the 2010s, her books describe the kinds of all-consuming romantic attachments that have bolstered narratives since Dido and Aeneas, or, O.K., Emma and Mr. Knightley. (There’s as wide a streak of affinity with the 19th-century novel in these books as there is with Sheila Heti.) Her characters are drawn irresistibly to one another (consistently consummating their attractions with phenomenal, heart-stopping sex), and come apart over petty misunderstandings, after which they tend to have “anxious, upsetting sex” with other people before reconnecting. Her prose, much like Salinger’s — her predecessor in philosophical post-adolescent neurosis — is sharp, dialogue-heavy and unadorned, written to be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly.
Part of the excitement of reading Rooney is seeing this old-school sensibility applied to what feel like acutely modern problems. In “Conversations,” Frances moves between an affair with a married older man and an on-again-off-again relationship with her female best friend. All four involved are self-consciously cool, progressive individuals who find themselves overwhelmed (in Frances’ case, to the point of self-harm) when pressed into action by brute desire. Rooney’s novels have the unusual power to do what realist fiction was designed to do: bring to light how our contemporaries think and act in private (which these days mostly means off the internet), and allow us to see ourselves reflected in their predicaments.
“Normal People,” even as it is almost physically impossible to stop reading once begun, feels in some ways like the slightly less impressive follow-up album by a beloved band, the “Contra” to Vampire Weekend’s self-titled debut, if you will. (There’s an extremely generationally accurate scene in which the central couple listen to Vampire Weekend while drinking gin and arguing, in 2012, about the Reagan administration.) It’s wonderful to hear the sound of Rooney’s voice on the page again, and the pleasures of her storytelling are even more immediate than in the first novel. But the book can also seem rushed and conventional in ways her debut did not, particularly in its final third. Much more so than in her first novel, the clarity of Rooney’s language gives way to clichés and not terribly convincing similes (“Marianne’s face looked bright like a light bulb”; “the heat beats down on the back of Connell’s neck like the feeling of human eyes staring”), as though the urgency of writing the story were so great that she was reluctant to pause to find the more perfect phrase.
The author is just as perceptive in the sections at Trinity, where most of the novel takes place. Marianne arrives at university with a new persona, transformed by the status afforded to the wry, bookish and rich, while Connell, despite the superior test scores that got him into the school, feels out of place among the would-be intellectuals. (Sample interior monologue: “It was culture as class performance, literature fetishized for its ability to take educated people on false emotional journeys, so that they might afterward feel superior to the uneducated people whose emotional journeys they liked to read about.”)
Marianne is dating someone else, but it’s only a matter of time before she and Connell progress from flirting at parties to kissing at parties to sleeping together again in some nebulous space between dating and friendship. They break off their arrangement over trivial misunderstandings, see other people (Connell a prototypical nice girl, Marianne a series of monstrous sadists), and then get back together. There’s something cinematic, even self-consciously hokey, about the paces they are put through, with Connell sweeping in repeatedly to rescue Marianne from awful men, most memorably her brother, Alan, a figure of such one-dimensionally motiveless malignity that he seems transported from another book entirely.
But even when — perhaps especially when — things tip over into melodrama, it feels true to the way life is experienced by the young. Connell and Marianne are self-dramatizing and prone to putting themselves in terrible situations. Connell struggles with depression, while Marianne has a masochistic streak that verges on a desire for annihilation. (The novel’s tendency to pathologize Marianne’s sexual orientation seems somewhat regressive — at one point Connell more or less throws her out of bed for asking him to hit her.) Though we are told repeatedly how brilliant both are, their genius remains off the page. Their “normalcy” allows the reader to project onto the characters to an unusual degree; I remember their tense dinner at Marianne’s vacation home in Trieste, Italy as though I had been there, and even though it goes quite badly, I still wouldn’t have minded an invitation.
There has been an abundance of great work in recent years by millennial-adjacent (are we supposed to check their I.D.’s?) fiction writers: My shortlist of current favorites includes Jen George, Claire-Louise Bennett, Alexandra Kleeman, Halle Butler and Jade Sharma, all of whom are more caustic in their outlooks than Rooney. (I almost forgot my contractual obligation to mention that Rooney was born in 1991.) Though class difference is a major theme running throughout Rooney’s work, she is less interested than most of the writers above in the lived day-to-day experience of the era’s economy, the enervation and unrelieved dread about one’s ability to pay the bills while still doing intellectually rewarding work. It’s worth noting that both of Rooney’s novels end before their protagonists graduate from college. It makes sense: As a writer she is adept, on the level of both plot and subject matter, at deferring the reckoning until just the right moment. As one of her many dedicated readers, I’m eager to see what her characters do once they emerge fully into the world, but I’m also happy to wait. She’s got time.B:
查香港马开奖结果查询【晚】【饭】，【三】【人】【又】【回】【到】【了】【往】【日】【温】【馨】【日】【常】。 【对】【于】【之】【前】【发】【生】【的】【事】【情】，【三】【人】【仿】【似】【忘】【却】【一】【般】。【并】【非】【是】【忘】【却】，【而】【是】【暂】【时】【放】【下】。【杨】【丹】【青】【将】【那】【想】【法】【按】【捺】【住】，【等】【今】【晚】【在】【询】【问】【逍】【遥】【子】【前】【辈】。 【至】【于】【两】【女】，【基】【本】【上】【将】【思】【绪】【抛】【开】，【看】【杨】【丹】【青】【行】【事】。【他】【怎】【么】【做】，【她】【们】【跟】【着】【就】【行】。【杨】【丹】【青】【也】【了】【于】【此】。 【这】【不】，【回】【去】【房】【间】，【他】【第】【一】【时】【间】【询】【问】：“【前】【辈】
【几】【天】【后】。 【张】【康】【正】【在】【家】【看】【电】【视】，【一】【个】【小】【屁】【孩】【咚】【咚】【咚】【的】【跑】【了】【进】【来】【对】【张】【康】【说】：“【太】【爷】【爷】，【外】【面】【有】【人】【找】【你】！” 【张】【康】【摸】【了】【摸】【他】【的】【小】【脑】【袋】：“【谁】【找】【我】【啊】？” “【不】【认】【识】，【是】【两】【个】【叔】【叔】。”【小】【屁】【孩】【洗】【了】【洗】【鼻】【涕】【说】。 【话】【音】【刚】【落】，【一】【个】【人】【从】【外】【面】【走】【了】【进】【来】，【笑】【道】：“【你】【这】【小】【屁】【孩】，【喊】【他】【太】【爷】【爷】，【喊】【我】【叔】【叔】？【老】【康】【啊】【老】【康】，【你】【可】
【红】【姐】【还】【以】【为】【他】【是】【买】【货】【的】【呢】，【问】【了】【他】【你】【是】【买】【衣】【服】【吗】？【这】【个】【女】【人】【说】【到】【你】【们】【店】【里】【不】【是】【要】【招】【聘】【人】【吗】？【我】【就】【是】【过】【来】【看】【看】。 【马】【上】【冯】【姐】【叫】【到】，【老】【板】【有】【人】【找】。 【我】【们】【见】【面】【的】【时】【候】【都】【相】【互】【点】【了】【下】【头】，【然】【后】【具】【体】【事】【项】【我】【就】【跟】【他】【说】【了】【一】【下】。 【看】【来】【他】【的】【家】【里】【有】【小】【孩】。 【还】【真】【的】【是】【不】【能】【太】【晚】【下】【班】，【因】【为】【下】【班】【还】【要】【接】【孩】【子】。 【这】【个】【女】【的】【说】
【在】【九】【阳】【镇】，【苏】【千】【影】【呆】【了】【两】【天】。 【在】【这】【两】【天】【的】【时】【间】【里】，【当】【天】【她】【与】【父】【母】【说】【了】【一】【下】【自】【己】【现】【在】【的】【情】【况】，【也】【告】【知】【他】【们】【自】【己】【生】【了】【两】【个】【孩】【子】。 【结】【果】，【当】【天】【夜】【里】，【苏】【文】【亘】【就】【带】【着】【一】【家】【人】，【直】【奔】【洛】【宗】。 【他】【和】【穆】【氏】，【都】【是】【想】【看】【到】【外】【孙】【的】【模】【样】。 【对】【于】【苏】【千】【影】【未】【婚】【生】【子】【的】【举】【动】，【他】【们】【没】【有】【半】【分】【责】【骂】，【更】【多】【的】【是】【心】【疼】。【她】【离】【家】【的】【时】【候】，查香港马开奖结果查询【黑】【色】【的】【阴】【影】【在】【森】【林】【中】【四】【处】【游】【走】，【仅】【仅】【是】【几】【个】【周】【期】【的】【不】【规】【则】【运】【动】，【就】【让】【人】【有】【一】【种】【眼】【花】【缭】【乱】【的】【感】【觉】。 “【我】【听】【说】【去】【沙】【滩】【上】【打】【西】【瓜】【的】【时】【候】，【都】【要】【蒙】【着】【眼】【睛】【转】【上】【好】【几】【圈】，【然】【后】【才】【能】【在】【旁】【人】【的】【指】【导】【下】【打】【西】【瓜】。” 【看】【着】【这】【位】【不】【停】【走】【位】【从】【未】【落】【地】【的】【影】【魔】【老】【兄】，【劳】【伦】【斯】【挠】【了】【挠】【脑】【袋】，“【别】【的】【不】【说】，【兄】【弟】【你】【这】【眼】【睛】【都】【没】【有】【蒙】【上】，【不】【合】【规】
【男】【人】【进】【去】【后】，【小】【安】【就】【由】【妇】【人】【带】【在】【一】【楼】，【男】【人】【就】【上】【了】【二】【楼】。 【在】【楼】【上】，【上】【官】【如】【雪】【就】【坐】【在】【那】，【泡】【着】【茶】。【她】【并】【没】【有】【看】【他】【上】【楼】【来】【的】【男】【人】，【而】【是】【自】【己】【喝】【着】【茶】。 【男】【人】【慢】【慢】【的】【在】【她】【的】【对】【面】【坐】【了】【下】【来】，【然】【后】【才】【低】【声】【的】【道】：“【孔】【雀】【要】【我】【来】【的】。” 【上】【官】【如】【雪】【点】【了】【点】【头】，【柔】【声】【的】【道】：“【哦】，【你】【就】【这】【样】【的】【来】【了】？” 【男】【人】【忙】【道】：“【不】【是】
【袁】【涛】【做】【了】【个】【梦】。 【那】【是】【个】【看】【不】【清】【长】【相】【的】【女】【生】，【一】【身】【黑】【袍】，【在】【混】【沌】【里】【伸】【出】【手】【指】，【偌】【大】【的】【黑】【暗】【的】【空】【间】，【如】【同】【快】【进】【的】【电】【影】【般】，【一】【帧】【帧】【的】【播】【放】【着】。 【而】【站】【在】【下】【头】【的】【袁】【涛】，【突】【然】【打】【了】【个】【冷】【战】，【原】【因】【无】【他】，【那】【电】【影】【里】【的】【故】【事】，【赫】【然】【就】【是】【他】【自】【己】，【挣】【扎】【的】【无】【望】【的】【哭】【泣】【的】【女】【生】，【一】【个】【个】【被】【他】【折】【磨】【的】【没】【个】【人】【形】。 【袁】【涛】【有】【病】，【他】【自】【己】【也】
【有】【人】【带】【领】【他】【们】【治】【水】，【事】【关】【他】【们】【的】【利】【益】，【他】【们】【欢】【喜】【还】【来】【不】【及】，【怎】【么】【会】【抵】【制】【呢】？ 【一】【呼】【百】【应】，【说】【的】【便】【是】【此】【理】。 “【得】【道】【多】【助】，【失】【道】【寡】【助】！” 【人】【心】【所】【向】，【便】【是】【神】【魔】，【也】【要】【辟】【易】。 【这】【便】【是】【人】【道】【的】【精】【髓】，【非】【是】【不】【强】，【只】【是】【需】【要】【的】【条】【件】【太】【过】【苛】【刻】，【要】【求】【的】【领】【导】【者】【太】【过】【严】【格】，【如】【此】【相】【结】【合】，【方】【才】【是】【百】【年】【不】【遇】。 【人】【杰】【时】【刻】
【太】【后】【这】【样】【说】【话】，【梁】【雪】【幻】【只】【好】【赶】【紧】【应】【着】： “【臣】【妾】【怎】【么】【会】【怪】【嬷】【嬷】，【只】【是】【怕】【那】【茶】【水】【太】【热】，【伤】【了】【嬷】【嬷】【的】【手】。“【梁】【雪】【幻】【随】【便】【说】【着】，【好】【在】【太】【后】【也】【只】【是】【随】【便】【听】【着】，【她】【可】【不】【在】【意】【眼】【前】【的】“【穆】【然】【音】“【是】【怎】【么】【想】【的】，【她】【只】【想】【让】“【穆】【然】【音】“【赶】【紧】【把】【那】【杯】【茶】【喝】【下】【去】。 【嬷】【嬷】【把】【茶】【水】【端】【了】【过】【来】，【恭】【敬】【的】【端】【到】【梁】【雪】【幻】【面】【前】，【梁】【雪】【幻】【接】【下】，【却】【没】【注】【意】