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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"The Story of A German Parachutist Who Landed Forty Two Years Late" by Aiden Mathews

"The Story of A German Parachutist Who Landed Forty Two Years Late" by Aiden Mathews (2002)

Irish Short Story Month Year Three
March 1 to March 31

Aiden Mathews

Aiden Mathews (1956) lives in Dublin.  He is a highly regarded writer in various forms. In July of 2012 I posted on a very good story of his  "The Strangest Feeling in Bernard's Bathroom".   

I decided I would read this story because I was intrigued by the title.  I wanted to find out what it meant.  I have posted on other short stories, in the tradition of Magic Realism as is this story, about men or angels who fall mysteriously from the sky in contrast to all laws of science and common sense.   This story also has an interesting twist as as it progresses and the characters in the story do not like what is going on they say they will complain to the author and get him to change things.  It is in a way about what it means to write a short story and I found this aspect of the work very interesting.   There are lots of asides about short stories as we go along. Things like "this is how a short story goes". Some might find them annoying but I really enjoyed them.

Anyway the story begins with us at home with Bowmeester family.  We are in England in 1987.  The wife is making a cake.  After a few pages (this how a blog post goes,just skip over whatever you like) Mr.Bowmester goes for a walk, or maybe he goes crazy, and he looks up and send someone hanging in a tree tangled up in a parachute.  It is a German pilot who was shot down 42 years ago and has just landed.  He speaks decent English, because the author thought he should.  They have an absurdly delightful conversation as to how he comes to be finally landing. He ends up taking him home to the family and they have some more really hilarious conversations try to explain how this happened.  Then there is the question what to do with him.  They cannot turn him in as the war was over 42 years ago and even though he should be sixty plus he is in his twenties so they have to figure out what to do with him.  He is basically a decent sort, for a German of course.  The wife seems to fancy him and he fancies their daughter.   He does not especially want to go back to Germany and they are not sure how or where he will fit in the world now.  

This is a good story, fun to read and it will also make you reflect on the nature of the short story.

I read it in The Anchor Book of New Irish Writing.  I have one more story by the author in another anthology and I think I will save that for ISSW4, hopefully assuming one takes place. 

Author Data

Aidan Mathews  was born in 1956 in Dublin.
His poetry collections include Windfalls (Dublin, The Dolmen Press, 1977); Minding Ruth (Loughcrew, The Gallery Press, 1983); and According to the Small Hours (London, Jonathan Cape, 1998).
His plays are The Diamond Body (Project Theater  Dublin ; Entrance, Exit (The Peacock Theater  Dublin); and Communion (The Peacock Theater).
He has also published two collections of stories, Adventures in a Bathyscope (Secker & Warburg, London, 1988), and Lipstick on the Host (Secker & Warburg, 1992); and a novel, Muesli at Midnight (Secker & Warburg, 1990).
He has edited Immediate Man: Cuimhni Ar Chearbhall Ó Dalaigh, a tribute to one of Ireland’s former Presidents (Buckinghamshire, UK, Colin Smythe, 1983).
His awards include The Irish Times Award, 1974; The Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1976; the Macauley Fellowship in 1978-9 and an Academy of American Poets Award in 1982. He reached the shortlist for the first GPA Book Award in 1989.
He lives in County Dublin.

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