Tenderwire

One of the most striking aspects of Tenderwire so far is that Kilroy seems to be perpetuating ethnic and gender stereotypes throughout. It has been difficult for me to discern whether or not this novel is doing anything on a cultural, political, or social level besides keeping with the stereotypes present in mainstream society.
I found it unsettling that the novel focuses so much on the normalcy of alcoholism and its Irishness. This stereotype is reinforced every time that the narrator meets someone new, and Kilroy writes the novel as if the other characters understand or “write off” the narrator’a alcoholism because she is Irish. It is as if the other characters (who are not Irish) assume it is the inevitable. This is also true with Alexander, the Russian, who has vodka (even stashes it under his chair at the bar).

Other stereotypes are reinforced. Daniel, the investor, is stereotypically ignorant or art, specifically orchestra dynamics. Society usually deems those who are in a “profession of numbers” as incapable of respecting or understanding art/music, especially of the classical nature.

Additionally, gender stereotypes are maintained and reinforced. The female narrator is unreliable, and her character is weak and unstable–characteristics long and often attributed to women. Kilroy does nothing to attempt to subvert these patriarchal dynamics except for perhaps giving the narrator control of her relationships with male characters. Even then, however, the narrator must still seek help from the male character: she asks Daniel for money, asks David for more money, uses her father’s money, seeks Zach’s opinion of the violin. The narrator isn’t in any way independent or self-reliant. Dependency, however, might not have been such a patriarchal quality had the narrator relied on Valentina, her mother, or other female characters and established a sense of female community. But this does not happen. Rather, the narrator is sustained through the male characters and the female characters are pushed away.

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