When a William Trevor story comes saddled with the title "The Paradise Lounge" or "The Ballroom of Romance," readers can be fairly certain there's a heavy dose of irony involved. Acclaimed as one of the finest English-language writers living today, Trevor specializes in lives crippled by low expectations. In Ireland
, selected from his previous volumes, Collected Stories
and After Rain
, he assembles a cast of assorted dreamers, loners, and hard-luck cases and then chronicles their disappointments with a compassionate but profoundly unsentimental eye. "The Paradise Lounge" is a rundown hotel bar where Trevor juxtaposes two adulterous loves, from two different generations; one affair has been consummated, the other not, but each is bitterly envious of the other. In "The Piano Tuner's Wives," a blind man's new wife becomes jealous of her predecessor. Instead of describing the world around him as his first wife did, Belle lies to her husband, who resigns himself to the situation: "Belle could not be blamed for making her claim, and claims could not be made without damage or destruction." Other stories find the specter of the Troubles lurking in the background, as in "Beyond the Pale" or "Lost Ground," in which Irish violence assumes the nasty inevitability of fate: "Milton's death was the way things were, the way things had to be: that was their single consolation." Throughout, the writing is simple, luminous, and characteristically lovely. Like Chekhov, another master of understatement, Trevor can paint an entire world with a single stroke of his brush. Trevor's characters are willing to settle for very little, and they seldom even get that. His readers, however, get everything they could possibly ask for.
About the Author
William Trevor is the author of twenty-nine books, including Felicia’s Journey, which won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and was made into a motion picture. In 1996 he was the recipient of the Lannan Award for Fiction. In 2001, he won the Irish Times Literature Prize for fiction. Two of his books were chosen by The New York Times as best books of the year, and his short stories appear regularly in the New Yorker. In 1997, he was named Honorary Commander of the British Empire. He lives in Devon, England.