'A large cardboard box emerged from under a tangle of scarves. I opened it. Within were the kinds of things you read about in novels: handwritten letters in little stacks, tied with string; black and white photographs; dried corsages of flowers that shattered into a gritty dust as I lifted them.’

Rosita Boland: ‘The Box in the Wardrobe’

number ninety-four | Spring 2024

In the spring issue of the Dublin Review, Rosita Boland writes about Finbarr Smyth: a young man who died in a plane crash in 1957, a couple of years after the end of his relationship with the woman who would become Rosita’s mother. Working from clues contained in a box of letters and telegrams unearthed from her late mother’s wardrobe, Rosita explores Finbarr’s life, death and afterlife. It is a tender and gripping evocation of paths not taken and a life cut short.

Also in the spring issue, Ian Sansom’s diary for 2023 is another darkly comic report on the personal, cultural and political events of the year, and the people Ian encounters on trains and buses, in shops and cafés, and on the street. In the face of intimate stresses and global disintegration, he concludes: ‘I can’t make anything up. I have never made anything up. Now more than ever I am incapable of making anything up.’

In Helen Chandler’s story ‘A Surge’, the narrator, worried about her own mental health, has a long Skype call with an aunt who suffered a nervous breakdown when she was a young woman. In Ben Fergusson’s story ‘Festa’, a father and his young-adult daughter go on a grief-shadowed holiday, and begin to discover the new shape of their relationship. And the spring Dublin Review also includes superb stories by James Bennett and Ava Chapman, and a dazzling short memoir-essay by Sydney Lea.

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