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A Bit on the Side: Storiesby William Trevor
Synopses & Reviews
William Trevor is truly a Chekhov for our age, and a new collection of stories from him is always a cause for celebration. In these twelve stories, a waiter divulges his shocking life of crime to his ex-wife; a woman repeats the story of her parents' unstable marriage after a horrible tragedy; a schoolgirl regrets gossiping about the cuckolded man who tutors her; and, in the volume's title story, a middle-aged accountant offers his reasons for ending a love affair.
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.
"The protagonists of this haunting, emotionally bleak collection of stories — a new widow confessing to two surprised Legion of Mary sisters the secrets of her marriage to a hateful man in 'Sitting with the Dead'; a woman stalked by her lonely, possibly violent ex-husband in 'On the Streets'; an heiress who compulsively recounts her tragic life story to total strangers in 'Solitude'; and a couple who exploit each other on a blind date in 'An Evening Out' — are generally 50-ish, usually childless and almost always burdened by regret over relationships decayed or forgone. They live in the aftermath of irremediable mistakes, ruefully cognizant that hope and romance are often delusory covers for self-interest and survival. Even the young — an 18-year-old girl who weeps with regret over future betrayals, an Irish woman who calls off her wedding after realizing she loves the dream of America more than her intended — are melancholy and introspective. Trevor reveals his native Ireland as a world sandwiched between modernity and its accompanying wealth, secularism and vulgarity, and a past that was more soulful and pious but also more restrictive. The much-lauded Trevor (Felicia's Journey; The Story of Lucy Gault; etc.) 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. Agent, Peter Matson at Sterling Lord Literistic." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] dozen wise and beautifully crafted pieces from a master....There's nothing mechanical about the simple humility and compassion that make the best of Trevor's stories so moving." Kirkus Reviews
"The dozen stories in the latest collection by beloved, critically esteemed Irish writer Trevor typify his best traits....In these stories, as always in his fiction, Trevor adds to our understanding of human nature." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[Trevor] manages to carry the reader so surely into the inner world of his troubled characters that one cannot help emerging with a broader moral compass, a more complicated view of the human condition." Lynn Freed, The New York Times Book Review
William Trevor is truly a Chekhov for our age, and a new collection of stories from him is always a cause for celebration. In these twelve stories, a waiter divulges a shocking life of crime to his ex-wife; a woman repeats the story of her parents’ unstable marriage after a horrible tragedy; a schoolgirl regrets gossiping about the cuckolded man who tutors her; and, in the volume’s title story, a middle-aged accountant offers his reasons for ending a love affair. 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.
About the Author
William Trevor is the author of twenty-nine books, including Felicia’s Journey, which won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and was made into a motion picture. In 1996 he was the recipient of the Lannan Award for Fiction. In 2001, he won the Irish Times Literature Prize for fiction. Two of his books were chosen by The New York Times as best books of the year, and his short stories appear regularly in the New Yorker. In 1997, he was named Honorary Commander of the British Empire. He lives in Devon, England.
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