In the Bed Department by Anne Enright (Short Fiction review)

Saturday, March 24, 2012


It's been a while since I read a short story. Today morning, I picked Anne Enright's In the Bed Department, mostly because of the title, which I felt quite amusing, but also because I have been seeing Anne Enright's books a lot lately, ever since The Forgotten Waltz was published last year.

In the Bed Department
In the Bed Department is a story about Kitty, a 40+ year old woman who worked in the bed department (there goes the bed reference) at a store. When the story begins, a pair of escalators had just been installed at the store, and she isn't too happy about it. Initially, it was the filthy and smiling men who built the escalator that bothered her. Sometimes she could be talking about beds and springs to a couple looking to buy one, when a dirty-looking worker passed in front of them, adjusting his zip. When the construction was over, the escalator itself troubled her - its ceaseless ticking and rhythmic movements dizzied her and she kept imagining a chain underneath the escalator.

The escalator is actually a loose metaphor to herself in the bed department at home. After seducing a 60+ year old widower and sleeping with him, Kitty gets pregnant. She begins to see the escalator as a physical representation of the baby inside her - the baby that she believes she is carrying, but isn't too sure of since she did not do any test. When the escalator stops working one day, she begins to fear for her child.

In the Bed Department was an interesting story, but it didn't intrigue me as I hoped it would. There was nothing special about the story, though Enright's writing is quite wonderful. I liked the connection between her baby and the escalators, but Kitty as a character didn't quite call out to me. To be honest, she bugged me, and I'm not sure why. There was little mention of her kids, barring a few passages. Still, this is a really short story (took me about 15 minutes) and it was a great introduction to Enright's writing. I doubt I will be rushing to read her books though.


I read this story online on the The New Yorker.


4 comments:

Helen Murdoch said...

I really do need to read the New Yorker. We have it in our house, but somehow I never get around to it. Sadly, I haven't read anything all week!

Athira / Aths said...

Reading all this awesome stuff on The New Yorker makes me want to take a subscription to the magazine. I love the stuff I read! I think I probably should subscribe. 

Colleen said...

I read a collection of Anne Enright's short stories (Yesterday's Weather) and overall I liked them even though they were quiet and not much happened in some of them.  It was more about what was unsaid.

Athira / Aths said...

That's a wonderful way to say it, Colleen! About 'what was unsaid'. I guess I will give her stories one more try some time.