Read A Bit on the Side by William Trevor Free Online
Book Title: A Bit on the Side|
The author of the book: William Trevor
ISBN 13: 9780670915071
Edition: Viking Books
Date of issue: January 1st 2004
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.39 MB
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Reader ratings: 3.8
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Twelve short stories; all good and one masterpiece, the title story kept till the end. “Something was different this morning; on the walk from Chiltern Street she had sensed, for an instant only, that their love affair was not as it had been yesterday.”
In the blurbs, one from the New Yorker, in which Trevor published most of these stories over the years, one critic said “Trevor is probably the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language.” Well, Trevor is gone now, but he’s certainly excellent as a short story writer and as a novelist.
As with his novels, many of the subjects are lonely people, and almost all are leading drab, confined, constrained lives. In one titled “Solitude,” we learn how a young girl became a friendless old lady, living in hotels across Europe, her only acquaintances maids, cooks, bar tenders and bell hops.
In “On the Streets,” a friendless divorced man stalks his former wife. (Married five months – was that a mistake?). He’s a waiter, fixated on and obsessed by a single incident at work for which he was criticized a long time ago.
In “The Dancing-Master’s Music,” a maid at an inn spends her whole life (from age 14 to retirement) working at the inn and reflecting back on a single musical performance. (I’m reminded of another Trevor character, a young man in Silence of the Garden, who goes to see a traveling knife-throwing act as a boy and that seems to end up being the highlight of his life.)
In “Graillis’s Legacy,” a widower, a small town librarian, rejects a substantial inheritance as inappropriate, coming from a woman, a former library patron he knew. It’s as if he worries that it might offend --- who? His dead wife?
Understatement is a strength of Trevor’s prose as in this passage about the village priest from “Justina’s Priest.” “He had seen his congregations fall off and struggled against the feeling that he’d been deserted. Confusion spread from the mores of the times into the Church itself; in combating it, he prayed for guidance but was not heard.” He speaks of a young woman wearing a shirt “with an indecency on it.” (The shirt said “F--- Me.”) In this story the priest intervenes with a young, mentally deficient woman’s family to warn them that she might run off to Dublin with the girl wearing the T-shirt.
A few stories involve couples and married people. (Happily? Of course not, where would the story be?) In “Big Bucks,” a young woman is engaged to a man who goes to America and they plan that she will follow him. Is she in love with him or with a dream of the distant continent?
In “Sitting with the Dead,” the middle-aged Geraghty sisters arrive at the homes of the dead and dying (whether they know you or not). One woman, a widow since the night before, reveals to them a lot more than she intended. Young people would say TMI – too much information!
Irish village from sites.nd.edu/oblation
Photo of the author from avondhupress.ie
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Read information about the authorWilliam Trevor, KBE 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."
In 1958 Trevor published his first novel, A Standard of Behaviour, to little critical success. Two years later, he abandoned sculpting completely, feeling his work had become too abstract, and found a job writing copy for a London advertising agency. 'This was absurd,' he said. 'They would give me four lines or so to write and four or five days to write it in. It was so boring. But they had given me this typewriter to work on, so I just started writing stories. I sometimes think all the people who were missing in my sculpture gushed out into the stories.' He published several short stories, then his second and third novels, which both won the Hawthornden Prize (established in 1919 by Alice Warrender and named after William Drummond of Hawthornden, the Hawthornden Prize is one of the UK's oldest literary awards). A number of other prizes followed, and Trevor began working full-time as a writer in 1965.
Since then, Trevor has published nearly 40 novels, short story collections, plays, and collections of nonfiction. He has won three Whitbread Awards, a PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In 1977 Trevor was appointed an honorary (he holds Irish, not British, citizenship) Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to literature and in 2002 he was elevated to honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE). Since he began writing, William Trevor regularly spends half the year in Italy or Switzerland, often visiting Ireland in the other half. His home is in Devon, in South West England, on an old mill surrounded by 40 acres of land.
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