Short Story Review: ‘The Old Man and the Suit’

Story Title: The Old Man and the Suit
Collection/Anthology?: Not applicable. Available for free download (PDF format) from the Costa Short Story Award website.
Briefly: Working in a basement workshop, an old tailor imparts wisdom and passion upon his grandson Malachy, on the craft of suit making.
Afterthoughts: Reeking with Chekhovian undertone, this tale is as beautiful as it’s melancholic. Although clearly set in Ireland, the old tailor comes across as a kind of Mr Miyagi of suit making; a true professional dedicated to and passionate about his craft. He preaches almost ecclesiastically about suit making, which makes the reader who appreciates the finer things swell with pride. And yet there’s an element of pure sadness running through this story too, with the young grandson – and the grandfather to some degree too – feeling somewhat trapped in a subterranean existence. All in all a short but rather magnificent story, and one that’s topped off quite perfectly.

Notable quote: He feels again of the weight of his inheritance and the lifetime he’ll spend underground.

Rating: ★★★★☆

costa_book_awards75 This story was read as preparation for casting a vote for the 2013 Costa Short Story Award. In all, six stories were selected by the award panel before being put to the public vote. All stories were presented without note of the author, so that each story would be judged on merit alone. For further details, please visit the Costa Short Story Award website.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).