Color And Light by Sally Rooney, 2019
The magic trick:
Letting us get to know the characters through five conversations
Essentially, this story consists of five interactions between Aidan and Pauline. Five scenes. Five conversations.
That puts a lot of onus on the dialogue, but the talk here holds up. I found it very believable. Which, I guess, really is the author’s calling card. So it makes sense that it works. Still, it is a marvel to step back and observe someone who understands so well the way people communicate with one another.
And that’s quite a trick on Rooney’s part.
Aidan pays special attention to the fact that she has used the word “friend” more than once in connection with Declan. He feels it can have only one meaning—a thought that makes him feel good. Does he? he replies. I don’t know what he thinks of me.
He said he didn’t know if you were gay or straight, Pauline says.
Ah, well. As I said, I don’t talk about things with him.
You’ve never brought a girlfriend home.
You’ve got the advantage of me here, Aidan says. He’s telling you all about me and I don’t know anything about you.
She smiles. Her teeth are extremely white and perfect, unrealistic-looking, almost blue.
What do you want to know? she says.
Well, I’m curious what brings you to live here. I don’t think you’re from here.
That’s what you’re curious about? Good grief. I’m starting to think you really are innocent.
That’s not very nice, Aidan says.
She looks wounded for a moment, stares into her glass, and says sadly, What made you think I was nice?
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