In A Bit on the Side, his 11th collection of short stories, Trevor delivers his classic dramatis personae -- a stalker, a cad, a cuckolded husband, a retarded girl, a thwarted artist, a bitter widow, among others. Theirs are lives altered by what Trevor calls ''the fragility of love.'' It is a phrase that, in one way or another, seems to give shape and form to the collection. Love is shifting and unreliable, bleak in its absence, delicate in memory, enduring to no purpose.
The New York Times
A Bit on the Side is a wonderful book and, for me at least, William Trevor really is the best short story writer alive.
The Washington Post
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. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Perpetual award winner Trevor offers 12 stories sure to sparkle. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Tenth collection from the Irish-born Trevor, a dozen wise and beautifully crafted pieces from a master. Most of the stories have to do with adultery, though the surprise is how many of the characters manage to treat one another with grace and kindness. In the title piece, Trevor (The Story of Lucy Gault, 2003, etc.) takes us through a single day in which two middle-aged lovers in London, who have built a comfortable second life together that's organized around daily meeting places, end their affair with the honor and dignity they believe their love deserves. A lonely librarian ("Graillis' Legacy") tries to reconcile his dual love for his wife and for his former lover, after both have died, by refusing to accept an inheritance from one of them. In "Rose Wept," a gossipy teenaged girl recognizes the adult cost that her tutor has paid for his wife's infidelity. And in the stunning "Solitude," one of the best tales here, a woman in late middle age makes a confession to a stranger: she's attempting to come to terms with the life-long sacrifice her parents made for her own protection, after her mother's infidelity resulted in a terrible accident that changed all of their lives. Her confessor reassures her: "Theirs [her parents'] was the shame, yet their spirit is gentle in our conversation: guilt is not always terrible, nor shame unworthy." This capacity for forgiveness, even under desperate circumstances, is a theme tying many of the pieces together, while others deal with betrayals of a different nature: in "Sitting With the Dead," a bitter widow confesses to a loveless marriage; and in "Sacred Statues," a woman's faith in her artist-husband's work nearly leads her to sacrifice their child.There's nothing mechanical about the simple humility and compassion that make the best of Trevor's stories so moving.
"Every story here is a model example of just how much a great writer can reveal in a short space." —Newsweek
"A Bit on the Side is a wonderful book… William Trevor really is the best short story writer alive." —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post