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This is one of those books that will always be on my night table as I read and reread these gems Excellence in short story writing is a rare talent and the fact that William is a fellow Irishman is only a grateful coincidence Until my mid life I had considered Anton Chekhov as the king of short stories and while he will never be dethroned William Trevor is sitting squarely at his right hand and only a little lower in the pantheon Describing Trevor s short story style is impossible and analysis is akin to demeaning the talent Yes he can be parochial often Irish locations but never parochial in his themes In short stories when in juts a few short page the characters are so well drawn that you are instantly attached is indeed a great art Trevor is one of those writers that in my humble opinion is a better short story writer than a novelist just as Colm Tobin is a far better novelist than a short story writer, different talent and different views of the world This a large book in fact my edition runs to 2 volumes over 1300 pages, and I would defy any reader to just read one of these short stories without the desire to return for Over the years I ve derived so much enjoyment from short stories, in some ways my favourite literary genre alongside the critical essay I really began when I was little with myths and folktales, a tradition for which I still retain considerable affection By the age of ten or so I was reading Edgar Allan Poe s Tales of Mystery and Imagination From there, in successive stages, I discovered such wonderful story tellers as William Somerset Maugham his Far Eastern stories are a particular favourite , Isaac Bashevis Singer a magician in words , Nikolai Gogol my favourite Russian writer in the medium , Graham Greene who writes extensively in this genre though he is better known as a novelist , Anton Chekhov, Alphonse Daudet, James Joyce, Ambrose Bierce, Franz Kafka, H H Munro better known as Saki , William Porter better known as O Henry along with so many others, including Balzac and Dickens, not generally associated with this literary form Now I ve discovered William Trevor, an Irish writer, having not long finished The Collected Stories, published by Penguin Books I suppose it s not quite true to say that his work is a totally new discovery because I came across him previously, one story, I think, in an anthology of Irish writing, but not enough to form a proper impression Now I have and there is no doubt in my mind that he will last as one of the great masters of the medium He writes with such amazing fluency, beautiful limpid prose with a simple realism that reminds me so much of Chekhov His work is rich in gentle irony with slight overtones of sadness, of empty lives and frustrated hopes His stories are mostly set in England or Ireland, often among the most marginal people, those on the edges of society, people often buffeted by an uncertain fate, unsure of who they are and where they are going Yes, there are elements of pathos and melancholy, offset quite often by an undercurrent of humour This is the thing about life, something the best writers have always understood comedy is never that far removed from tragedy Some of his female characters caused me to laugh out loud at points, including the impossible Mrs da Tanka in A Meeting in Middle Age, the first in the collection, who teams up with the unfortunate Mr Mileson, a sort of agency detective, in a hotel together to spend the night, thereby providing grounds for a divorce in the days when such matters were complicated Yes, they team up together in a way that a lion teams up with a gazelle In general Trevor shapes characters, in complexity or simplicity, who are totally believable He is there as a narrator, as a third presence, only in the lightest possible way He does not create his people he allows them to create themselves, to build themselves up through their own words and actions There is little in the way of a narrator s prologue this is life unfolding as we go along, as fate works away The language, the use of words, is quite delicious precise, beautiful, simple and elegant There is nothing in the least artificial about Trevor s prose style, which has directness and a sense of realism that I so admire, largely free of a tangled undergrowth of adjectives, something that only the very best writers can command For the most part these are small and intimate dramas, not covering a huge range of possible situations, and yet paradoxically immense In over eighty stories at no point did I feel that I was going over the same ground each situation seemed unique and fresh Did I have any favourites Well, yes, I suppose I did, though I find it immensely difficult to make a distinction in that having favourites seems to suggest that those not selected were somehow less worthy At over 1200 pages long this is a compendium of favourites I should make special mention, though, of Beyond the Pale, where a woman is confronted with the tragedy of Irish history, confronted by a legacy of love, loss and terrible bitterness The tale she tells destroys a lying idyll And then there is Matilda s England, a story in three parts, an enchanting and poignant narrative of time and tide and fortune, of happy highways where people went and can never come again I sit here in here now in her drawing room, and may perhaps become as old as she was Sometimes I walk up to the meadows where the path to school was, but the meadow isn t there anyThere are rows of coloured caravans, and motor cars and shacks In the garden I can hear the voices of people drifting down to me, and the sound of music from their wireless sets Nothing is like it was.This is immediately followed by Torridge, quite different in tone, with a bitingly humorous ending, one that completely dismantles the comforting illusions of a nauseatingly self satisfied group of old school chums These are just a few examples I could go on and on but there is really not much point I can really only pay proper tribute to Trevor by retelling his tales one by one You can do justice, if you are minded to, in reading them for yourselves. I am writing this in the drawing room, in fact at Mrs Ashburton s writing desk I don t think of it as a story and certainly not as a letter, for she can never read it but as a record of what happened in her house after the war If she hadn t talked to me so much when I was nine there would not be this record to keep, and I would not still feel her presence I do not understand what has happened, but as I slowly move towards the age she was when she talked to me I slowly understand a littleWhat she said has haunted me for thirty nine years It has made me old before my time, and for this I am glad I feel like a woman of sixty I m only forty eight Most of all William Trevor reminds me of Anton Chekhov he possesses the same unique ability to penetrate all the psychological subtleties of his characters and convey them to paper with a hand of a distinctive master.So this exhaustive collection of his stories boasts really monumental range. Somewhere about around 30 years ago, I read the short storyIn Love with Ariadneeither in a laundromat, waiting in an airport, or bored above the Arctic Circle in winter, or.something I think it was in the Atlantic Magazine , or some other.I, almost immediately, also, fell in love with Ariadne And with the writing of William Trevor.That short story and many, many others are collected in this book And any one who has read William Trevor will not need to be told that he is a master of the short story Certainly one of the best writers ever.About 15 years ago, I bought this book And since that time this has become one of my permanent books of choice for laundromats, waiting in line at the DMV, or bored above the Arctic Circle in winter, or.sitting alone at home with my cat.William Trevor can create a very memorable and human soul, place that soul into a profoundly real place, and then compel an unforgettable and important struggle for that character, and the reader to grapple with And this has occurred, so far, for me, in every single story Trevor s people are flawed people, very hard not to love Trevor s struggles are real as cancer And Trevor s stage sets are possessed with a sense of place so real you feel as if you have been there.15 years later, at this time, I have probably readthan 3 4 of this book I ve been picking stories at random all that time And I don t really know because I am not counting, I don t want to know, nor do I hope to finish soon.I am writing this review now, although I have not completed this book because it appears to me that, by Goodreads standards, I may never complete this book I refuse to read this book in a linear fashion, straight through from page one to page 1260 or whatever it is, because I don t want to ever realize that I am done This is one of those books you know the type that is so good that you don t want it to end.I have finally decided that this is the one book that, for me, will never end. Brilliant The best short stories I have ever read The range of characters, of misery, and of humor are absolutely incredible Trevor can make you laugh while a pit of dread simultaneously opens in your gut So typically Irish, that after all, you never laugh so much as at an Irish wake.A few characteristic lines to give you the flavor As she did every morning after breakfast, Mrs Abercrombie recalled her husband s death She was a woman like a sack of something, Jenny considered, with thick, unhealthy looking legs Characters are isolated from each other in most of these stories if there are happy marriages, they are dismissed in a line and attention returned to the miserable ones, or the malicious ones, or the broken ones People are stingy, or mean, or psychotically anxious in social situations, or just averagely unpleasant, or lonely or misunderstood Somehow, despite this, in 1261 pages I never got sick of them, they are so richly drawn and fully fleshed If you aren t going to plod through all 1261 pages, but would rather dip in here and there, here are a few of my recommendations if you want to get a good sampling of Trevor s powers A Meeting in Middle AgeThe Penthouse ApartmentIn at the BirthThe Hotel of the Idle MoonThe Mark 2 WifeA Choice of ButchersAnother ChristmasAttractaBeing Stolen FromA TrinityKathleen s Field First of all, let me begin by saying that William Trevor was probably not a human being but a machine which could print masterpieces Although this book is a collection of all his stories, it reads a lot like a selection In the entire 1260 pages there were only two stories that I found weak, and a very large number that I found to be groundbreaking masterpieces Trevor is definitely a writer at the same level of the greatest short story writers of all time, along with giants like O Henry, Chekhov, Hemingway, Carver, or Mansfield While I really love Alice Munro, I d give Nobel to Trevor in a heartbeat over her This man is a giant.Secondly, although you can find a common theme in all of Trevor s stories loneliness, betrayal, secrets that people keep, denial and create an idea of what a Trevor like story is like usually a plain looking protagonist embarks on a deceptively ordinary life until the complex and extraordinary truth behind it is revealed there is a very wide variety of characters and plots and styles, reading this gigantic book never gets boring and repetitive I think all of Trevor s stories are ultimately about the extraordinary nature of ordinary life, but this extraordinary aspect reveals itself sometimes in a single sentence in seemingly plotless stories about a couple arriving at the wrong destination or a woman seducing a man among a group of tourists in Isfahan, or the extraordinary might reveal itself in the form of a psychopathic child or an abusive mother, or maybe in the scene of a murder Another common theme is the fallibility of our judgments and presumptions, and many stories tell the tale of the disillusionment, of those false presumptions being shattered.Overall, a very small number of writers have the extreme depth and perception of Trevor when it comes to human psychology, in all its complexity While historical and political and cultural forces sometimes penetrate the world of these stories especially the problem of Irish civil war mostly the stories remain at the level of an individual epic or tragedy, giving Trevor a universal taste sorely missing in writers since great classics.It took me from February to October to finish this book During this time, it became a part of my life Its stories will continue to haunt you and color the way you perceive the world I know that I will be returning to these stories.William Trevor, beyond doubt, is one of the greatest giants of literature not only of our time, but ever I can see his stories being taught in school four hundred years from now. On November 1, 1992 Viking published the entire first seven collections of short stories of one William Trevor, called the greatest living writer of short stories by Booker prizewinning Irish author John Banville This awesome tome has 1296 pages The NY Times Book Review calls the stories treasures of gorgeous writing, brilliant dialogue, and unforgettable lives For a taste of Trevor, may I recommend a smaller Penquin paperback entitled IRELAND 1998 that contains two of my favorite stories, The Paradise Lounge and The Ballroom of Romance This sampling relates unforgettable lives not dysfunctional families and provides a vivid, almost painful at times, picture of relationships in a setting evoking a strong sense of place.In his story The Paradise Lounge Trevor uses the warm and friendly atmosphere of an Irish hotel pub to parallel the romantic lives of two Irishwomen For thirty five years Miss Doheny, local spinster, has strolled through the town on Saturday evening to the Paradise Lounge in Keegan s Railway Hotel to meet her friends, the Meldrums At the time of the story, the quiet conviviality of place allows Miss Doheny a silent interaction with a younger woman, an outsider in the lounge with her married lover Here s Trevor s description of the setting The bar was a dim, square lounge with a scattering of small tables Ashtrays advertised Guinness, beer mats Heineken Sunlight touched the darkened glass in one of two windows, drawing from it a glow that was no unlike the amber gleam of whiskey Behind the bar itself the rows of bottles, spirits upside down above their global measures, glittered pleasantly as a center piece, their reflections gaudy in a cluttered mirror The room had a patterned carpet, further patterned with cigarette burns and a diversity of stains The Paradise Loungehad been titled in a moment of hyperbole by the grandfather of the present proprietor Most material for this posting came from a final college paper, THE IRISH SENSE OF PLACE Setting in the Short Story, written in 1987 EnjoyJane These are the best short stories I have ever read In just a few pages, Mr Trevor creates an entire universe I am enjoying this collection so much that I am only read a story a day and decided to not finish this at this time That way I can return to it and read a new story This is simply the best Any person who is a fan of short stories must read these And if you don t like short stories, you will still like these stories since he tells a novel in a matter of pages. Dear William Trevor,Our nine months together is over and I feel a burden lifted Lifting your hefty 1262 page book at least a couple times a week and opening it to a world of sad, lonely, damaged lives was not easy Over time, it became harder to pick up, because I came to realize that you would never, NEVER, allow a hopeful ending for a story Not even once I often gazed at the cheerful smile on your cover photo and wondered what prompted the despair in your writing You are a masterful short story writer, your sentences can be breathtaking and you are funny but not funny enough to lift the darkness from these pages Otherwise, there is no way I would have finished this huge, huge, volume Even though your stories are populated with self destructive, defeated, bitter and neglected victims whose love is always unrequited I read on, knowing that each story would be well worth finishing I m relieved to say goodbye but I admit, I ll miss you, just a little. ^FREE BOOK ⇢ The Collected Stories ↵ The Collected Storiesa Stunning Volume Of William Trevor S Unforgettable Short StoriesWilliam Trevor Is One Of The Most Renowned Figures In Contemporary Literature, Described As The Greatest Living Writer Of Short Stories In The English Language By The New Yorker And Acclaimed For His Haunting And Profound Insights Into The Human Heart Here Is A Collection Of His Short Fiction, With Dozens Of Tales Spanning His Career And Ranging From The Moving To The Macabre, The Humorous To The Haunting From The Penetrating Memories Of Youghal To The Bittersweet Bodily Secrets And The Elegiac Two More Gallants , Here Are Masterpieces Of Insight, Depth, Drama And Humanity, Acutely Rendered By A Modern Master A Textbook For Anyone Who Ever Wanted To Write A Story, And A Treasure For Anyone Who Loves To Read Them Madison Smartt Bell Extraordinary Mr Trevor S Sheer Intensity Of Entry Into The Lives Of His Peopleproceeds To Uncover New Layers Of Yearning And Pain, New Angles Of Vision And Credible Thought The New York Times Book Review