Cheating at canasta by William Trevor

Source – personnel copy

William Trevor without doubt in my humble opinion is the greatest living short story writer .he has won numerous awards and has been nominated for the booker prize on five occasions without winning a shocking oversight .He lives in Devon ,since the 60’s .His stories often touch on the outcasts and edges of society .

This collection of short stories was published in 2007 .if there is a theme to this book it is maybe loosely cheating ,a man in an italian cafe cheats at canasta ,a mechanic cheats some Spanish  tourists out of money for a repair  and in another a man returns to his home village from England as he felt cheat out of his inheritance ,but also a huge dark secret that he needs to see the priest about !Trevor wonderfully spins the human condition with all its foibles .We also touch on the very darkest people in society a paedophile on the lookout for a victim is a very harrowing story ,we also meet street gangs .These stories show that even thou he was nearly eighty when he wrote this collection ,he still has the finger on the pulse of  everyday life .

He was a shabbily dressed man ,almost everything he wore would having been abandoned by someone else .He had acquired the garments over a period ,knowing he intend to make this journey -the trousers of what had been a suit ,brown pin-striped ,worn shiny in the seat and at the knees ,a jacket that had been navy-blue and was nondescript now ,the khaki shirt he  wore an item once of military attire .

a bit from men of Ireland as Prunty returns to Ireland

As the quote shows Trevor has a great eye for detail .Like the other books by him I ve read I love his stories he always surprises me ,which is a real talent .all the stories in the collection are strong enough to stand alone which is good oft in collections by other writers there are a couple of what might be called in music terms filler tracks .this is like Bob  Dylan’s blood on tracks or Neil young harvest 100% wonderful from start to finish but also a collection that be great to visit again .I read this few weeks ago but held it for Mel of the reading life Irish short story week

Have you read Trevor ?

Who is your favourite short story writer ?

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jessica
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 11:21:25

    I have only read Trevors The Children of Dynmouth which I throughly enjoyed but did find it disturbing. Hes one of those writers that I keep meaning to read more of.


  2. parrish
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 18:09:56

    BLIMEY not heard of him, I’m guessing he’s from this fair isle, a bit remiss of me not to know so will have to check him out. Fantastic luck with pinball 73, ny library doesn’t have it.


  3. Gavin
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 00:09:24

    I have only read Trevor’s novels. Must try the short stories. As for my favorite short story writer I think it’s a toss-up between John McGahern and Alice Munro. But I haven’t read any of Bolano’s stories…


  4. Rob
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 12:47:51

    The greatest living short story writer, Stu? I almost agree with that, but would like to add Etgar Keret, Simon Van Booy and Kevin Barry to the mix, with a little sprinkling of Murakami too.

    Regardless, you point out in your review what I love best in Trevor, too – his eye for detail. And he has this incredibly patient and considered way of sharing that detail which I know puts a lot of people off. However, like a fine wine or an expensive coffee, rich reward awaits those who sup slowly.
    Thanks for sharing a great review, Stu.


  5. Mel u
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 23:46:43

    Thanks so much for participating in Irish Short Story Week-I will be posting on one or two of Trevor’s Stories later in the week-it will be my first time reading him-based on your post I feel sure I will be adding him to my list of favorite short story writers-thanks again


  6. Lisa Hill
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 06:22:11

    I read quite a bit of Trevor after I discovered The Story of Lucy Gault which was deservedly shortlisted for the Booker (and unfortunate not to win but it was up against Life of Pi). Of these the eight I’ve read my favourite was Felicia’s Journey, a melancholic book as many of his tales are but so beautifully written it almost made me weep. I enjoyed Nights at the Alexander, The Old Boys and Death in Summer too. He also has a nice collection of short stories called After Rain…
    I have to nominate Australia’s David Malouf as our greatest short story writer. I currently have his Collected Stories out on loan from the library, a collection which won the short-lived Australia-Asia Literary Award. (Politics can do mean things to literary prizes in this sport-obsessed country, a philistine can always win a vote or two by promising to cut back on the arts *sigh*).
    Malouf is a genius who writes accessible stories of great beauty and wisdom, as you will know if you have read any of his novels.


    • winstonsdad
      Mar 17, 2011 @ 12:21:30

      I ve like Malouf I ve read and not tried his short stories will try that ,got cloudstreet up next from Australia ,agree with the arts cut just same here been loads of art cuts such a shame ,all the best stu


  7. Kinna
    Mar 19, 2011 @ 08:03:43

    Since I love and read short stories, I have to get some Trevor under my belt. Been meaning to for years. Now is the time, I guess. hanks, Stu.


  8. kimbofo
    Mar 27, 2011 @ 14:20:06

    I’ve read a few of Trevor’s novels — and was treated to his complete 2-volume collection of stories by my better half for xmas in 2009. Alas, I’ve still not cracked open the spines on either copy because the books look too beautiful to hold!!

    As to favourite short story writers, I do like Simon Van booy (mentioned by Rob above), but at the moment I am reading a collection by Claire Keegan, another Irish writer, and it is astonishingly good.


  9. Mel u
    Mar 10, 2012 @ 07:51:11

    Hi-just stopping by to extend you a personal invitation to join us again for Irish Short Story Week Year Two Starting on March 12-I hope your schedule permits you to participate-all the best

    Mel u


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  11. Andy Larter
    Mar 10, 2015 @ 17:56:51

    I’ve only just read this collection. I think the first four paragraphs of “The Dressmaker’s Child” are amongst the best writing I’ve read all year. It’s compact, clear, accurate and presents a picture of the place. In four paragraphs Trevor shows the character of Cahal, his relationship with his father and the rest of his family and prepares us for the unsettling events later in the story. Absolutely brilliant.


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March 2011


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