These are somber contemplative stories; mostly about people on the fringe reminiscing about their past lives and/or wondering how they ever got to where they are now. Many themes of relationships, regrets, communication or the lack thereof. Sparse emotions, quiet despair, passive inevitability.
Not recommended for anyone looking for a pick-me-up!
The writing is solid. I read this book solely based on a recommendation from another blogger, Verbivore and comments on one of her monday-reading-notes posts. I was also inspired by Kim the Sophisticated Dork who had been questioning if blogging had ruined serendipitous book findings and I surmised it was just different now. So to prove my point, I saw the recommendation for Trevor, checked his worth in the ratings of goodreads (very high, by the way), clicked over to my library’s holdings, and scooped this one up immediately and started to read. I am finding that I really really love short story collections but I also have difficulty reviewing. I can’t remember enough to chat about each and just can’t decide on an a suitable approach.
Unfortunately, I struggled through some of the phrasings and references which I attribute to the Irish/English settings and culture of the author. If you like plants and flowers, almost all the stories mention such in scenery descriptions. I did see that more than a few of the stories used the word ‘muddle’.
MUDDLE: “He was the sharper of the two in argument and always had been; but he listened, and even put her side of things for her when she became muddled and was at a loss.” – confused, bewildered, mixed up, perplexed, baffled.
I also felt at odds with the time setting of these stories. I sensed a less-technological age and then a character would have a cell-phone and I would feel an unwanted time-shift jolt. I do not think the author meant for that to happen.
RATING: Three slices of pie.
For CHALLENGE: Twenty in Eleven
William Trevor: “The greatest living writer of short stories in the English language.” – The New Yorker