Wilde” - A Short Story by Ethel Rohan from her collection, In the Event of Contact - 2021
To those wanting The Reading Life bottom line on this collection,buy it.
I first began following the work of Ethel Rohan March 13, 2012. Since then I have posted eleven times on her works. She also kindly contributed a guest post and participated in a Q and A session. Obviously I hold her in great esteem. You can see my feelings in this selection from an old post.
My thoughts on first reading Ethel Rohan, from March 2013
“Last year I read a story, "Beast and the Bear" by Ethel Rohan, a totally new to me at the time writer. I read it during Emerging Irish Women Writers Week. I never expected to read a story during this week that I would end up regarding as belonging with the greatest short stories of all time. I read it four times in a row I was so amazed. Since I read that story for the first time, I have read, I estimate, at least 1000 other short stories including most of the consensus best short stories in the world. After reading "Beast and the Bear" again yesterday and this morning I am completely convinced it should already be counted among the world's greatest short stories. I was in fact so shocked by the power of this story that I wanted to be sure I was not overreacting. I sent a fellow book blogger whose taste I know to be exquisite and educated through decades of reading short stories and she said only the very best short stories she had ever read, she is noted authority on Virginia Woolf, could compare to it. I know this sounds hyperbolic but it is how I feel. I do not lightly say a short story written by an author I had never heard of the day before I read it belongs with the work of the greatest of short story writers but that is my opinion. In a way I felt a sense of satisfaction in that I am open enough in my perceptions and judgments to be able to make such an assertion.”
There are thirteen stories included with In the Event of Contact
I decided my initial post would be on a story entitled “Wilde”. Oscar Wilde fascinated me at age 13 and still does. Also The statue of Oscar Wilde in his museum in Dublin plays a big part in The story. I am fondly reminded of a literary tourism visit I made a few years ago to Dublin with Max u to The Oscar Wilde Museum.
This story is narrated by a late Middle aged woman. A long time ago she moved to Chicago. Now she is divorced and back alone on her annual visit to Dublin. Rohan has written other stories sbout adult children coping with dysfunctional parents and the lingering impact and involuntary memories this produces. The narrator recalls her father had a long lasting relationship with Mary, who existed only to him. As the narrotor explores Dublin, she finds her self in front of a statue of Oscar Wilde. The spot is swarming with tourists. Somehow Wilde then accompanies her on her walk, has coffee with her and converses using his famous sayings. He ends up next to her in her posh hotel, gone Without a word of goodbye when she awakes.. She recalls her doctor told her not to drink while on anti-depressents and she wonders is she going the way of her father.
This is a marvelous story sbout coming home, fear ing Madness and the power of Iconic literary figures to haunt those under their spell.
In Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation by Declan Kiberd says a dominant theme of modern Irish literature is the weak or missing father. For sure this story deeply explores this matter.
I Will be posting on more stories included with In Case of Contact soon.
Her website has a detailed bio.