The publication of a new book by William Trevor is a great literary event. Trevors last collection, A Bit on the Side, was named a New York Times Notable Book and hailed as one of the Best Books of the Year by papers from coast to coast, including The Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle. And his earlier collection, After Rain, published in 1996, was named one of the eight best books of the year by The New York Times.
Trevors precise and unflinching insights into the hearts and lives of ordinary people are evidenced once again in this stunning new collection. From a chance encounter between two childhood friends to the memories of a newly widowed man to a family grappling with the sale of their ancestral land, Trevor examines with grace and skill the tenuous bonds of our relationships, the strengths that hold us together, and the truths that threaten to separate us. Subtle yet powerful, his stories linger with the reader long after the words have been put away.
Many book clubs are hesitant to discuss short story collections, and understandably so – it can be difficult to know where to start with so many plotlines, characters and competing ideas; but choosing just two or three stories from a collection to discuss makes for great conversation – and Cheating at Canasta would be a great place to start. The plots and characters raise complex, relevant, and immediately discussable issues, and Trevor's style is wonderfully readable. Short stories are also great for discussing an author's form and style, as their length reduces the scale a little, helps you see the shape and techniques more clearly – and since they're short, you can easily read a story several times to get in even deeper. Try choosing just three stories to discuss from a collection and see what you think! (Reviewed by Lucia Silva).
New York Times - Richard Eder
He is commonly compared to Chekhov. But Mr. Trevor's pistol, introduced early, often as not does not go off. It is unloaded instead in stillness more percussive than a shot.
New York Times - William Boyd
Trevor is not the Irish Chekhov. He is, I think, sui generis, and in his 12 collections (and 13 novels, and two novellas: an exhibition of near-Updikean energy), he has created a version of the short story that almost ignores the form's hundred or so years of intricate evolution. These stories stay in the mind long after they’re finished because they’re so solid, so deliberately shaped and directed so surely toward their solemn, harsh conclusions. Perhaps there is an eighth type of short story after all: the Trevorian.
Entertainment Weekly - Jennifer Reese
In a few pages, he evokes a lifetime of hurt, rage, and shame, mingled with unbidden sympathy and understanding, an emotional cocktail so believably complex you'll want to sample it again and again. A.
Los Angeles Times - Susan Salter Reynolds
Trevor, who turns 80 next year, has written 13 novels, two novellas, 12 collections of stories, a play, two works of nonfiction and a children's book. He has dedicated his life to this art form. Perhaps that's why Cheating at Canasta has a backward-looking feel to it, gentle but firm, even in stories like "Bravado" and "The Dressmaker's Child," where the characters are not yet 20 and must learn humility the hard way.
Starred Review. The book as a whole recalls Joyce's Dubliners in making melancholia a powerful narrative device.
Booklist - Brad Hooper
Starred Review. Trevor offers proof he can't be labeled stale in presentation or old-fashioned in understanding of contemporary life.
Another stellar collection from Trevor.
The Times - Maggie Gee
The Irish novelist William Trevor’s 12th collection of short stories interweaves love, and the failures of love, with shame.
The Guardian - Hermione Lee
[A] fine collection by the great William Trevor.
The Independent - Patricia Craig
Trevor's ability to make compelling connections from an oblique perspective puts him among the most masterly and invigorating storytellers. If the comic element that characterised his earlier work has receded, there are other pleasures in his registering of social change: a resolute clairvoyance, an elegiac gravity.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Beverly Cheating at Canasta by William Trevor Trevor's main characters experience profound perceptions of self and situations that bring resolution/acceptance, slowly, ruefully. There is poetry in Trevor's prose -- graceful words and poignant, telling phrases.
From "The Children":... Read More
Rated of 5
by Melissa Leaves You Wanting More Many of the stories are open-ended leaving the reader to imagine what takes place after the written page ends. A writer’s job is to bring us into the stories they have written, and William Trevor certainly does that. I look forward to reading more... Read More
Rated of 5
by John Enjoyable reading I have not previously read any of William Trevor's works, nor do I normally enjoy short stories. Trevor's writing is intelligent and thought provoking. Many of the stories make you wish that they had been expanded upon in the form of a novel. They... Read More
Rated of 5
by Valerie Portrait of Our Humanity William Trevor's collections of short stories reveals the dark side present in all of us. Leaving the scene of an accident, lying, cheating on spouses are temptations many are faced with during their lifetime. Trevor portrays their humanity with... Read More
Rated of 5
by Lisa Cheating at Canasta "Cheating at Canasta" is an excellent portrayal of the lackluster life of the ordinary man. His use of human emotions in each of the main characters is poignant. They run the gamut of guilt to grief. He leaves the reader hoping for more for each... Read More
Rated of 5
by Steve A Good Read Trevors' new book is magnetic, his vocabulary is refreshing on both an intellectual and descriptive level. His characters are vibrant and compelling, each with their own nuances and insights. I did not enjoy "At Olivehill". The suspense was... Read More
William Trevor was born
on May 24, 1928, in Mitchelstown,
County Cork, in the Republic of
Ireland. He grew up in various
provincial towns and attended a
number of schools, graduating
from Trinity College, in Dublin,
with a degree in history. He
first exercised his artistry as
a sculptor, working as a teacher
in Northern Ireland and then
emigrated to England in search
of work when the school went
bankrupt. He could have returned
to Ireland once he became a
successful writer, he said, "but
by then I had become a wanderer,
and one way and another, I just
stayed in England ... I hated
leaving Ireland. I was very
bitter at the time. But, had it
not happened, I think I might
never have written at all."
From a land famous for storytelling comes an epic novel that captures the intimate, passionate texture of the Irish spirit.
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