Charlie Chaplin’s Wishbone
and other stories
By: Aidan Mathews
These twelve masterful short stories are by one of Ireland’s leading practitioners of the art (previous collections include Adventures in a Bathyscope, 1998, and Lipstick on the Host, 1992). Aidan Mathews is a writer worthy of Joyce, whose condensed language conveys learning, sophistication, true feeling and poignancy. The range of subject matter is conveyed in the story titles: ‘Charlie Chaplin’s Wishbone’, ‘Access’, ‘Barber-Surgeons’, ‘Waking a Jew’, ‘Cuba’, ‘The Seven Affidavits of Saint-Artaud’, ‘A Woman from Walkinstown’, ‘In the Form of Fiction’, ‘The Logos of the Zoo’, and ‘Information for the User’. The stories are set in Ireland and principally in Dublin of the 1960s.
Characterisation is rich and the dialogue lively and expressive, while the understated dramas and emotions of the tales themselves subtly washing over the reader. The verbal flair of Aidan Mathews is second to none, and the seriousness and the gravity of his contemplations a welcome counterweight to our desiccated, Anglo-American digital culture. This gathering marks a welcome return of a major voice in Irish literature, unpublished since the 1990s.
‘Their considerable appeal lies in their exquisite language, and their acute and witty observations on people and their foibles.’ – Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, The Irish Times
‘Mathews’ return with this splendid collection of short stories is welcome… He is still working at the extremity of the form, often delving into the murky depths of his protagonists’ unconsciousness.’ —Desmond Traynor, Sunday Independent
Aidan Mathews was born in Dublin in 1956 and attended UCD and Stanford University in the USA. He is an award-winning playwright, novelist and short-story writer, whose last collection, Charlie Chaplin’s Wishbone and Other Stories, was published by Lilliput Press in 2015. He is currently a radio drama producer in RTÉ.