In the final year of the 19th century, Peter Winceworth has reached the letter S, toiling away for the much-anticipated and multi-volume Swansby’s New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Overwhelmed at his desk and increasingly uneasy that his colleagues are attempting to corral language and regiment facts, Winceworth feels compelled to assert some sense of individual purpose and exercise artistic freedom, so he begins inserting unauthorised, fictitious entries into the dictionary.
This debut collection from Eley Williams centres upon the difficulties of communication and the way in which one's thoughts - absurd, encompassing, oblique - may never be fully communicable and yet can overwhelm. Attrib. and other stories celebrates the trickiness of language just as it confronts its limits. Correspondingly, the stories are littered with the physical ephemera of language: dictionaries, dog-eared pages, bookmarks and old coffee stains on older books. This centres on the weird, tender intricacies of the everyday where characters vie to 'own' their words, tell tall tales and attempt to define their worlds.