Edna O'Brien. Edna O'Brien period. There has never been a need for anything else to be said, only her name. It is the name you are most likely going to hear at any literary event in Ireland at some point during the proceedings, amongst others. The name Edna O'Brien has been used so much that it is fast becoming a cliché.
I have always nodded knowingly when "something a lot like Edna O'Brien" is used as a description, and everyone listening is assumed to understand, who doesn't know Edna O'Brien after all, and the conversation moves on swiftly. I don't know anything about Edna O'Brien. In education she has never once come up and I only know of her from articles, reviews and other people using her name as a genre in order to make a point. How could a woman who is a genre unto herself have slipped through the cracks?
As a result of this epiphany, I picked up a copy of 'Girls in their Married Bliss' over the weekend – a thin volume by Edna O'Brien, there's that name again. The critical tone and easy, blunt manner of dealing with sex and men is fun, something the censors were not cognizant with apparently. The enigmatic and entrancing first person narrative makes the novel a constant read, I didn't put it down while there were still pages to be turned. Pushing it, I suppose, into the higher stratosphere of 'page-turner' status.
Of course this critique is coming from someone, who until this weekend, had never read an Edna O'Brien novel and is excited at the discovery of the impressive author. Does that matter? Probably a lot more than I am willing to admit.