The waiter who divulges his shocking life of crime to his ex-wife. A woman repeats the story of her parents' unstable marriage after a horrible tragedy. The schoolgirl who regrets gossiping about the cuckolded man who tutors her. A middle-aged couple meet in a theatre bar for a squalid blind date. The disappointed priest who fears an innocent young girl may run away from home. Two self-certain sisters visit a newly widowed local woman. And, in the volume's title story, a middle-age accountant offers his reasons for ending a love affair.
From these slender moments Trevor creates whole lives, conjuring up characters marked by bitterness and loss. William Trevor's graceful prose is a wonder in itself, and as convincing when inhabiting the mind of a school lunchmaid, an adulterous Irish country librarian, or a murderer on the London streets. And as is always the case with William Trevor, venom and tragedy are never far from the still surface of the stories.
At the heart of this stunning collection is Trevor's characteristic tenderness and unflinching eye for both the humanizing and dehumanizing aspects of modern urban and rural life.
©2004 William Trevor; (P)2004 Tantor Media, Inc.
"William Trevor really is the best short story writer alive." (Washington Post Book World)
"In these stories, as always in his fiction, Trevor adds to our understanding of human nature." (Booklist)
"The much-lauded Trevor explores the many sources and shadings of regret with his usual delicate but brilliant psychological nuance, brightened occasionally by nostalgia for the lost love that once impelled his characters forward." (Publishers Weekly)
I was not familiar with the author before this, and selected the book just because I've heard Trevor referred to as "another Chekhov." This collection of short stories deals with sometimes uncomfortable truths and disillusioned relationships. Yes, the characters are forlorn, but how many of us reach middle-age without a few regrets? I think Trevor knows us all, and so I found the stories compelling.
However, Trevor is a demanding author, and you do need to listen carefully to catch the sometimes subtle time lapses. But he is never less than amazing -- he seems to paint portraits of totally ordinary people who are yet so very memorable. Another reviewer wrote that "ending a short story does not allow us to leave the characters alone." The stories are, in a word, unforgettable.
The narration was excellent as well. Two narrators alternated with the 12 tales, and both were wonderful. I would listen again, on a train ride, or on vacation.
Those who have read the great stories of William Trevor in the New Yorker and elsewhere will not be disappointed with this selection. Here is Trevor at his mature best. And, oh yes, you do have to listen carefully. Trevor does not write for lazy readers, and lazy listeners in the audio format will just have to listen over again. But listening a second time is actually recommended for all. There is nothing like great fiction like this to learn what the Irish heart is and how it feels.
If you don't know the work of William Trevor, this is a great place to start. His attention to character and detail are first rate, and his plotting is always subtle, endings that will stay with you long afterward. Meanwhile, the writing is beautiful, but at the same time economical. A veritable lesson on the craft can be found in each of these stories.
There are many I re-listened to immediately. He's that good.
This small collection of short stories was a bit of a disappointment. I have enjoyed several of Trevor's novels and story collections, but this one just didn't move me like other of his works. For the most part, the stories are about ordinary, mousey, even dull people living ordinary, dull lives. While this is true of other Trevor stories, his use of language has always been powerful, making me interested in and empathetic with the most ordinary of characters. That didn't happen for me in A Bit on the Side; for me, Trevor's usual poignancy was missing here.
The wonderful writing of William Trevor.
Simon Vance voice.
the young uncommunicating couple in the second story.
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