Friday, November 11, 2011

(An Impression Of) Nude - Nuala Ní Chonchúir

What is the difference between Naked and Nude? This is a question that  passes back and forth between the stories in Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s  third  collection of tales “Nude”. In these stories we  read of individuals of  both  sexes as they attempt to fulfil their desires and come to terms - or are broken apart - by their frustrations, in these tales we follow lovers in various states of undress, and of love, we have examples of nudity as a weapon, and tales so heartbreakingly naked that all the defences have been removed, stripped away. This book has tales so beautifully written that the horror, only visits later and tales of a slow pervading fear that your choice will be your undoing, no matter how beautiful it seemed at the choosing. nudecover

In the preface we read that  Nudity can be a garment worn out of choice, as though one was sky-clad and with that premise comes a certain sensuality, an idea that you could allow yourself to be clothed with the gaze of a loved one and yet where is the line between nude and naked drawn. Is it in who has control, who has the power,or is there a far more subtle shade to it than this, Nuala explores this idea via the artists and models, by the lovers and those left bereft, left naked by their experiences.

In this collection of twenty tales, there are some that will make you smile, even laugh, some will leave you with questions concerning your attitude to the naked form, whether as living flesh or as works of art and others will just break your heart. Nuala writes with a sexuality that explores all it’s nuances, she writes of individuals, people, you, me with all the bumps and bits we’d rather keep hidden, highlighted, but highlighted with a poets sensibility, leaving us with this beautiful sensual collection of stories.

I’ve just re-read this post and, to be honest, I’m struggling to describe this collection of tales, this is no fault of the book – but in trying to pin it down, I feel like I’m placing it in some killing-jar. The problem is  I want to use phrases like the tales have a corporeal sensuality, or that it’s sexuality has a visceral nature, but  I’m worried that by using  this language I’ll turn people away from a truly beautiful book. Yes there is a sexuality, but it’s not mechanistic, not of a kit-formed detail, these tales are a first person perspective of the heights and depths of human emotion – with no point of return, no  comeback and none wanted. Below is a poem by Nuala, that although is not from this collection of stories – I  think traces some of the themes present within the book.

My body is a palimpsest
under your hands,
a papyrus scroll
unfurled beneath you,
waiting for your mark.
I clean my skin,
scrape it back to
a pale parchment,
so that your touch
can sink as deep
as the tattooist’s ink,
and leave its tracery
over the erased lines
of other men.
You are all that’s
written on my body.

                        NUALA NÍ CHONCHÚIR (From: Tattoo : Tatú)
 For a brilliantly reasoned and clearer idea of this book, please check out Mel U, From the wonderful Blog – The Reading Life

Nuala Ní Chonchúir is a novelist, poet and short fiction writer. She was born in Dublin in 1970 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Dublin City University and NUI Galway. Her first full poetry collection “Molly’s Daughter” appeared in the ¡DIVAS! Anthology New Irish Women’s Writing (Arlen House). Her bilingual poetry collection Tattoo:Tatú (Arlen House, 2007) was shortlisted for the 2008 Rupert and Eithne Strong Award. A pamphlet Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car (Templar, 2009) was one of four winners of the 2009 Templar Poetry Pamphlet competition.
    Nuala’s début novel You (New Island, 2010) was called ‘a heart-warmer’ by The Irish Times and ‘a gem’ by The Irish Examiner. She also has a new collection of poetry published now  - The Juno Charm, this has been described by fellow poet & writer, Órfhlaith Foyle as they “ play with and worship the ordinary life, yet they also lift life to extraordinary heights through love and guilt, sex and sorrow;…”

Nuala Ní Chonchúir (Wiki)
Nude (Salt Publishing)
Women Rule Writer
Órfhlaith Foyle ( Nuala Ni Chonchúir’ interview )

Update On the 22nd  of December I will be taking part in a virtual tour, where I will get the chance to ask  Nuala, some questions concerning the writing of her new book of Poetry The Juno Charm, if like myself you can't wait to find out her responses to questions on the process of writing, click on the picture of the book in my sidebar to see the other people/bloggers taking part. the tour started with another writer Órfhlaith Foyle, whose wonderful book Somewhere in Minnesota,  I posted on awhile back.
Thanks, Parrish.


Bellezza said...

This sounds totally worth reading; I love the books that one can't properly pinpoint enough to post about. They're too elusive in their beauty and meaning to catch in one review. These words from your post especially caught my attention: "tales so heartbreakingly naked that all the defences have been removed, stripped away". I like the exploration of who we are, clothed or not, the whole idea of examining defenses and being laid bare, whether sexually or emotionally.

Mel u said...

I agree totally that it is very hard to describe the stories of Ni Chonchuir in a way that comes close to capturing their power and beauty. I think she will one day be seen as a very important writer of prose fiction and poetry. Thanks so much for mentioning my blog post-her work seems to be tied to the experience of gazing at paintings as well as gazing at nude bodies-in a way I also cannot quite express-her stories are meant to be gazed at and experienced as a whole-great post on your part as normal-

Órfhlaith Foyle said...

Hello Parrish, a wonderful impression/review of Nuala's stories.

Group 8 said...

Parrish! Bellezza! Mel! Órfhlaith!
You have each made my day.
Thank you x 4.
I am a happy woman right now. Your support means so much to me.

Rachel Fenton said...

I got shivers reading this review - much the way I felt reading Nude.


@parridhlantern said...

Thanks to Mel tweeting this post it has been posted on the Bloggers Daily

Tom Cunliffe said...

A fascinating concept. Alas, I can never hear the name Nuala without thinking of Frank Kelly's Christmas Countdown: said...

This sounds wonderful. I love the poem too. The cover is a perfect addition. I like the idea of nudity as a weapon. How sharp.

@parridhlantern said...

Hi, Bellezza I honestly believe you'd enjoy the tales in this collection.

Hi Mel, needed your post to balance the impressionism of my own, thanks for your comment.

Thanks for your comment Órfhlaith.

Hi Nuala, I just hope I captured some of the ideas behind this great collection.

Thanks Rachel, enjoyed your poetry.

Hi Tom, don't know of Frank Kelly's, but it's amazing what connection names can conjure up.

Hi Lena, check the book for more about Nuala and her new collection of poetry.