Shillelagh Law by Joseph Ferguson
This eclectic collection of short fiction explores the human condition in all its absurdity, beauty, and heartbreak. Some are simple, uncomplicated tales; others are quirky or filled with symbol and allusion. Some are coming-of-age tales; some funny, some horrific. Still others examine themes of redemption or ruin.
Written in a variety of styles and points of view, there are tales for every reader, and hopefully, a reader for every tale.
Acclaim for Shillelagh Law …
“In his second collection of short stories, Joe Ferguson continues to
mesmerize readers with hypnotic storytelling.” – Dylan Callens, Author of Operation Cosmic Teapot
“Totally captures a reality that most of us have probably experienced in some form. I doubt I will ever forget it!” – Sandy Knauer Morgan, Author of Rena’s Silver Lining
“Ferguson reminds us that it is never wise to be the first among your friends to pass out while drinking.” – Lisa Shiroff, author of Revenge Café.
“A great read filled with clever dialogue and ironic wit … a writer in the classic Irish Blarney Stone tradition—the guy at the end barstool, spinning tall tales as long as you’re buying rounds—and he does not disappoint here.” – Steve LoPresti, CEO, LoPresti Communications
Top Customer Reviews
Especially liked the satire on the absurdity of big agencies who ignore major in your face issues and keep the wheel turning. Also enjoyed the crossed interpretations of humans living in there own realities and crossing paths on the road of life.
Shillelagh’s Law is a book of ten short stories by Joseph Ferguson. It is evident from his allusions to metaphysical metaphors and simile that Ferguson’s mastery compares with John Donne. Juxtaposed seamlessly with the mundane, these uncommon rhetoric are enmeshed into the fabric of his works.
Snake, Snail and the Puppy Dog Tail: This is an introspective story, the focus of which is the character Bobby. His state of transition from childhood to an awkward adult. This challenging situation compels him to face one deterrent after another. Issues of un relinquished infatuations, disparaging comments from his cheeky mates, fears and brooding thoughts. Such fears are often represented by powerful imagery of snakes crawling through the wetness of water pipe in a tower. These are but metaphors of the conduits of his own mind, the many mental obstacles. However, he is also able to successfully conquer a lot of these. Happiness awaits at this journey’s end, when he pulls himself out of the tunnel, able to breathe the fresh air of freedom.
In Rock and Roll similar imagery of snake, stairway to heaven, visions of booby trap, and recurrent panic attacks occur . This tells young Frankie’s struggles as he tries to get through the drudgery of a mundane existence to a more meaningful life.
Incident on a Boring Afternoon, is an action filled afternoon to get away from innui. Boys trying to push the boundary of science with interesting speculations and humorous adventures.
My Favourite Christmas Tree: Who else would think of similes such as “The air was crisp as lettuce and miniature fogs arose whenever someone used the Pissing Tree”, “monolithic clouds” but Ferguson? His genius craftsmanship is revealed in the use of hilarious bathos throughout the story. Feeny’s dialogue with the electrician is a notable example, where the talk slowly turns towards Kant and comparative literature. Funny as it is, this story renders with endless hilarity and comical images until readers double up with laughter.
Shillelagh Law, set in modern day, this informative piece has references to Ireland’s history of the Shillelagh, of the failed potato crops, and the magical Banshees, aptly juxtaposed with police work. It is a typical day at work for officer Cavanaugh as she begins her daily routine job. She sees kids on drugs but doesn’t charge them thinking that more serious offences take place. The story is slow paced. It unfolds through a dull, lazy motion to a moment in time when officer Cavanaugh receives a call that someone is under attack in the woods with a Shillelagh. The high point is Cavanaugh’s transformation. How her own character is compromised and becomes paradoxically round. She finds herself sympathising with the offender’s shillelagh’s law, rather than reject it.
The Incredible Sleeping Man: In this story a contrast is created deliberately between children and Ambrose to highlight his character. A homebound man tinkering away like a “mad scientist” who hasn’t seen the light of day in decades so to speak until one day he chooses to change all. He goes out. Finds a suffering dog. A turning point in his life that makes a sensitive, living man out of this dead “mannequin” existence. So palpable a story that one could smell, taste, and touch the objects described.
Fifteen Minutes, is a story of a writer in act. Swimming in an ocean of words, hallucinations and pesky voices in his head, Bartleby struggles with characters, commas, semicolons, diction, and the wave narrative in his mind. For fifteen minutes, Bartleby oscillates between being a scribbler and the various character portrayals: grappling with the issues of grammar, fleshing out characters, narrative descriptions. Some of the ambiguities that catches the scribbler’s fancy are:
“Nobody knows if St. John’s warts are prosaic.” Vs “Nobody knows if St. John got warts from Prozac.”
By far, this is a groundbreaking work which could revolutionise short story writing. How the content is structured is more important than the story itself. Over a time span of fifteen minutes, each abstract idea is extracted from the writer’s mind and penned down as episode in each segment. A break down of time is provided as to what thought occurred when.
My Bootless Cries: A lesson leant the hard way to not to meddle with guns, when a boy accidentally kills a man is the premise of this short. Many conflicts arise from this and are elucidated through powerful metaphors giving meanings to such conflicts. They are the heart of the matter, which defines endless speculations to our philosophical quests, its existence and non-existence.
In The Gloaming is a moving introspective piece in which thoughts run deep. It is an emotive rendition of the narrator’s reminiscence.
About The Author: Joe Fergusson.
Joseph Ferguson is an author, poet, and journalist appearing in a variety of small press, regional, and national publications. He wrote propaganda for a living for a variety of entities for some 25 years.
His books include two short story collections – Southbound, and Shillelagh Law, and a spoof of “how-to-get-a-job” books, Dave Doolittle’s Resumes That Work, So You Don’t Have To.
He is a former editor and critic for Hudson Valley, ran the Fiction Workshop for the Poughkeepsie Library District, and has reviewed books and videos for Climbing, The American Book Review, Kirkus, and a number of other publications.
He also sells rock climbing t-shirts through his website: http://www.bumluckhome.com/