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

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"Feather Bed" by Eithne McGuinness

"Feather Bed" by Eithne McGuinness  (2006, 12 pages)

Year III
March 1 to March 31

Eithne McGuinness  

After reading "Feather Bed" by Eithne McGuinness in Scealta:  Short Stories by Irish Women edited by Rebecca O'Connor I turned to the biography of the of the author and was very impressed by her accomplishments.  I then did a Google search and sadly found she had based away since the 2006 publication of this story at age 48 from cancer.  If you are unfamiliar with her work there is an excellent tribute to her in The Guardian  upon the occasion of her passing in 2010.

Much of her work as an actress and a playwright dealt with cruelty to children.  "Feather Bed" is a haunting story about a mother's terrible cruelty to her daughter, age eleven.   The story is told in the first person by the girl, from the confines of a mental hospital, where she would rather be than at home.   The mother was almost certainly herself the victim of terrible cruelty and she is taking her revenge or herself hatred out on her daughter in strange near ritualistic forms of abuse.   The poor father seems without a clue.   It was very moving when he explained to the daughter that her mother misses her terribly but was too sick to visit her and longs for her return home.   As I read this searing  story I was brought to mind the amazing work of Kirsty Gunn about passing cruelty down through the generations, Keepsake.  

Taken from the biographical notes in Scealta:  Short Stories by Irish Women

Author Data

EITHNE MCGUINNESS was  attending the M.Phil. in Creative Writing at the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin. Plays include ‘Typhoid Mary’ and ‘Limbo’, both produced for the Dublin Fringe Festival. ‘Typhoid Mary’ was shortlisted for the P. J. O’Connor Awards and broadcast on RTE Radio. As an actor, Eithne played Sr Clementine in The Magdalene Sisters and Gracie Tracey on Glenroe. She has worked with many theater companies in Ireland, including the Abbey Theater  Passion Machine and Calypso.

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