Excursions in the Real World: Memoirs

Excursions in the Real World: Memoirs

by William Trevor
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A modern master of the short story brings his precise and compassionate observations to bear on his own life, in a book of recollections that is at once funny, poignant, and revealing. As William Trevor records his migration from the shabby-genteel precincts of Ireland's Protestant middle-class to the sleek vulgarity of London in the swinging sixties, from Cork and… See more details below

Overview

A modern master of the short story brings his precise and compassionate observations to bear on his own life, in a book of recollections that is at once funny, poignant, and revealing. As William Trevor records his migration from the shabby-genteel precincts of Ireland's Protestant middle-class to the sleek vulgarity of London in the swinging sixties, from Cork and Dublin to New York and Isfahan, he yields luminous portraits of the people whose paths crossed his. There is the roaring schoolmaster with the passion for spelling bees; the glamorous emigre with a weakness for faithless poets. There are Trevor's parents, marooned in a marriage that grew more arid by the year. In Excursions in the Real World, Trevor turns memory into a fabulous balancing act between truthfulness and art.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Prolific novelist and short-story writer Trevor ( Two Lives ) here presents an autobiography consisting of 29 vignettes--a number of which have appeared in print before. He relates how it felt to grow up Protestant in ``de Valera's new Catholic Ireland,'' where he was born in 1928. We participate in his childhood adventures with Henry O'Reilly, ``the laziest man in Ireland,'' and the poor, tortured family maid, Kitty, who had ``stormy'' teeth. We also meet Miss Quirke, the omniscient teacher, who, a dreamer, ``deserved the Champs-Elysees,'' and the headmaster known as ``the Bull,'' who had a great suspicion about men in semi-clerical dress. The memoir is filled with wonderful reminiscences about Dublin and Trevor's undergraduate days at Trinity College, where studies never got in the way of whoring with ``the last of the night ladies--the best remembered a one-legged dressmaker from Cabra.'' We are also escorted to the swinging London of the '60s, and to decadent New York City in Watergate-drenched 1973 America. The author's sharp eye for people and events, subtleties and blandness, make this a charming read. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Well known for his novels and short stories ( Two Lives , LJ 8/91), the Irish writer Trevor brings together a good storyteller's recollections of people and places from his past. Versions of many of these sketches have appeared in The New Yorker and other periodicals, more than half in the 1990s, the rest in the two previous decades. Trevor describes his childhood in rural Ireland, school experiences in Dublin, work as a teacher and copywriter, and places he has visited. The writing is superb; Trevor makes clear the essence of unforgettable people--friends, colleagues, and strangers--in a few words. Places--New York, San Francisco, Venice, Dublin--are re-created from a new perspective. The 30 original drawings by Lucy Willis are an excellent complement to the text. Recommended, especially for biography and British literature collections.-- Judy Mimken, Saginaw Valley State Univ., Mich.
Brad Hooper
His recent "Collected Stories" confirmed in all quarters Trevor's preeminence in the English-language short story. Can his latest work, a memoir-in-essays, establish his superiority in the autobiography genre? It can hardly do otherwise, for it's a triumph of memory, as Trevor mines particularly sparkling nuggets from the recesses of his past. Numbering 29 pieces, this collection of essay-sketches is less a bag of loose gems than a diadem of carefully set ones. The incidents Trevor remembers, primarily of growing up in Ireland but also of places he's visited as an adult, are recollected mostly because of the delightfully eccentric characters they involved. This type of person, as all readers of Trevor will know, worked its way into the frame and fabric of almost all his marvelous stories. "I became a writer of fiction and began--as all fiction writers do--to refashion the real world, to pick over bits and pieces of experience and use anything that was useful." But then he adds as a corollary, "These essays are a small part of what has been left behind after all that." What delicious leftovers they are, though!
From the Publisher
"William Trevor is one of the century's greatest writers of the short story." —The Globe and Mail

"Book after book, story after novel after story, it's a wonder how anyone can manage every single time the impeccable crescendo, the perfect pitch, the devastating finale... Trevor is one of the great short-story writers of our time." —Alberto Manguel

"Probably the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language." —The New Yorker

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780517472415
Publisher:
Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
01/25/1994

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >