Author(s): Mary Costello
A collection of twelve exquisite stories that explore how ordinary men and women endure the trials and complexities of life and the ripples of disquiet that lie beneath the surface. An elderly schoolteacher recalls the single act of youthful passion that changed her life forever; a young gardener has an unsettling encounter with a suburban housewife; a wife who miscalculated the guarantees of marriage embarks upon an online affair. And in the title story a teenage girl strikes up an unlikely friendship with a lonely bachelor. Love, loss, betrayal. Grief, guilt, longing. The act of grace or forgiveness that can suddenly transform and redeem lives. In these twelve haunting stories Mary Costello examines the passions and perils of everyday life and relationships and, with startling insight, casts a light on the darkest corners of the human heart. With a calm intensity and an undertow of sadness, she reveals the secret fears and yearnings of her characters, and those isolated moments when a few words or a small deed can change everything, with stark and sometimes brutal consequences.
The stories in this collection: The China Factory You Fill up My Senses Things I See The Patio Man This Falling Sickness Sleeping with a Stranger And Who Will Pay Charon? The Astral Plane Little Disturbances Room in Her Head Insomniac The Sewing Room
'It is the accumulation of tiny pleasures...that makes The China Factory such a satisfying and accomplished debut...[Mary Costello's] writing has the kind of urgency that the great problems demand-call them themes; they are the kind of problem that make a writer. With a bit of luck, they could keep her at the desk for the rest of her life.' Anne Enright, Guardian 'A publishing coup...there are shades of John McGahern and William Trevor in many of these disquieting tales of loss and regret but Costello's nimble, exacting prose style is very much her own. The stories engage with the human condition in such a profound way it's no wonder they leave an indelible mark.' Metro Herald 'These twelve stories examine the dark side of everyday life...Echoing Thomas Hardy, she reveals how even ordinary lives can be full of drama and incident...Beautifully crafted but never pretentious, Costello's stories are stark and honest and her characters linger long after you close the book.' Books Ireland 'The subtle underpinnings, the intuitive capacities-the eye for details, the feel for language, the care of it-are much in evidence...One hopes to read more of Mary Costello.' Irish Times 'Twelve perfect stories...Mary Costello has an acute ear for dialogue, but her real talent is for choosing what to leave unsaid...A collection of exquisite stories so intricately wrought, so unique and enthralling as to be utterly bewitching.' Sunday Independent 'The China Factory is a remarkable debut. It epitomises everything that is special and wonderful about the short story genre. It introduces us to a powerful new voice in Irish Literature, a voice that we will hopefully hear again and again.' Galway Advertiser 'A sense of inescapable isolation runs through Mary Costello's unsettling, beautifully-crafted short story collection...They are connected thematically and by the clarity and precision of Costello's writing, but also through recurring images and events that echo in a dreamlike way throughout the book...A highly impressive, tightly-written debut.' Sunday Business Post '['This Falling Sickness'] is a perfect piece; where pace, character and restraint, emotion all exquisitely combine...This story is simply a masterpiece...This is a powerful collection from a very fine unshowy writer.' Irish Independent 'Despite its variety of subject and character, there is a wonderful consistency throughout the collection in terms of its compassion, curiosity and grace. These stories give very real glimpses-sometimes unsettling, sometimes cathartic-of ordinary people in their moments of self-discovery and trial.' Necessary Fiction 'There's an economy to the prose here, and I know that's an over-used phrase, but it's true: there's a proper sense of depth to each moment and to each character, and the whole effect is of a situation brimming with emotion-and we, the readers, are seeing only the crucial portions of each, larger story...Costello is one hell of a writer.' Bookmunch 'You are there, on the underside of a character's skin, in her mind, behind his sightline, swimming pacifically in the underwaterness of their emotions, somehow muted and colour-sharp at once. If there is something that ties these stories together, it is not so heady as a theme, like "the existential state of aloneness." It is more that loneliness envelops the world of each story like a living, moving thing, and in the opening sentences, a kind of emotional atmosphere opens up, like a tiny mouth, where the reader enters, slips in quietly, whereupon the mouth closes, seals the reader in. If this description strikes you as sexual, then it's not far off; these stories want all of you, mind and body and soul, like a consummation.' Sonya Chung, The Millions
Mary Costello is originally from East Galway and now lives in Dublin. Her stories have been anthologised and published in New Irish Writer and in The Stinging Fly. The China Factory is Mary's first book of stories.