Charlie Chaplin’s Wishbone
and other stories
By: Aidan Mathews
‘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
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). 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 This gathering marks a welcome return of a major voice in Irish literature, unpublished since the 1990s.