Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, July 6, 2012

"The Strangest Feeling in Bernard's Bathroom" by Aidan Mathews

"The Strangest Feeling in Bernard's Bathroom" by Aidan Mathews  (1988, 15 pages)

The Irish Quarter
A Celebration of the Irish Short Story
March 11 to ?

I grow old … I grow old …         
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.  
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?  -T. S. Eliot

As I read "The Strangest Feeling in Bernard's Bathroom" by Aidan Mathews (1956, Dublin, Ireland) I also had a strange feeling that I was revisiting a poem I had not read or even thought about in decades, "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot.   The story is about Bernard, almost sixty, and his reaction to seeing his wife naked in the bathroom.   Here is his credo in life:

"I don't expect much,"  he said.  "That way I'm never disappointed".

His only vanity is he prides himself on telling people he is happy.  This is a very good story about getting older and realizing nothing big is ever going to happen for you.   The essential plot of the story revolves around the man's reaction to contemplating the aging body of his wife, who did not notice him looking at her.   He feels a deep sadness over the effects of the years on the body of his wife, not for the missed pleasure it might have brought him decades ago but for what it says about her life and the human condition.   He tries to talk his feelings over with his coworkers, he works in a store selling stuff over the counter, but they don't really have any interest in this and he knows it.  He even goes to confession over it, then he thinks how can I talk about this to a 21 year old priest who has never been married.   

I read this story in The Anchor Book of New Irish Writing and I am very glad I did.   

You can learn more about the career of the author here

Mel u

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