Book info

A Bit On The Side (2005)

A Bit on the Side (2005)
Rating
3.82 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0143035916 (ISBN13: 9780143035916)
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English
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penguin books
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A Bit On The Side (2005)
A Bit On The Side (2005)

About book: უილიამ ტრევორი პირველად ორი წლის წინ წავიკითხე და ამის მერე მოკლე მოთხრობების ჩემი საყვარელი მწერალია. ტრევორი არ წერს არაჩვეულებრივი ადამიანების არაჩვეულებრივ თავგადასავლებზე. მისი ისტორიები პატარა ქალაქებში (ძირითადად ირლანდიის) მცხოვრები ჩვეულებრივი ადამიანების ისეთი ისტორიებია, რომლებიც ჩვენც კი გადაგვხვდენია თავს (ან თავისუფლად შეიძლება ასე მოხდეს), რადგანაც ისინი ცხოვრების განუყოფელი შემადგენლებია. მაგრამ რითიც არის ტრევორის მოთხრობები განსაკუთრებული, ეს ადამიანის ემოციების ზედმიწევნით კარგი ცოდნა და ხედვაა; იმ დეტალების დანახვის და მათთვის ლიტერატურული ფორმების მიცემის ძალიან მაგარი უნარია, რომლებიც ჩვეულებრივ ცხოვრებისეულ მოვლენებს, დრამატულს თუ ტრივიალურს, განსაკუთრებულობას და რაღაც გაგებით მარადიულობას ანიჭებენ (მაგალითად ორი შეყვარებულის დაცილება მოთხრობა a bit on the side-ში ან big bucks-ში). ამასთან ერთად, მის მოთხრობებში ყოველი წინადადება მაღალი ხარისხისაა რაც მცირე მოთხობებისთვის აუცილებლობაა. მოკლედ, უილიამ ტრევორი ადამიანის განცდების და ლიტერატურული სიტყვის ნამდვილი ოსტატია. ამ კოლექციიდან განსაკუთრებით sitting with the dead, solitude, in the streets, sacred statues, big bucks და bit on the side მომეწონა. სამწუხაროა რომ მისი მოთხრობები ქართულად არაა ნათარგმნი.

William Trevor has a reputation as a short story master, and A Bit On The Side does nothing in my mind to contradict his reputation. Each tale is a carefully constructed gem of simple, clear writing. Simple people in real life dilemmas who touch the heart as they work their way through their difficulties. And yet. And yet. Yet what? I ask myself. Well, exquisite as Trevor’s writing craft is, it is often a bit too obvious. The carefully chosen scene. The details of the passing landscape or humanity, each particularly appropriate for its effect or placement in the scene. It’s as if some times we are watching the author’s hand move his figures around on a miniature set. Artifice that’s obvious rather than hidden. In “Justina’s Priest,” for example, each character is dressed just so to reflect the decline of religiosity in the Parish. Each word and response comes in just the right way to fit the POV of the priest mourning the loss of the old ways. And yet. And yet. Yet what? I ask myself. Well, there is the title story, where that obviousness is not obvious at all. There, the artifice moves nicely under the genuine emotions of the characters. Or “Sacred Statues,” where the author’s hand retreats behind the scenes and we have no sense that either we or the situation is being manipulated by anything but the natural force of events. And yet. And yet. Yet what? I ask again. Well, something is still missing, and it is this: none of the stories is truly moving. Even the one where a mother finds herself pregnant and proposes to sell this fourth offspring to a childless couple to relieve their poverty so her gifted husband can continue to carve the holy-figure but commercially unviable statues seems to engender nothing more intense than anxiety and regret and sadness and acceptance either for the reader or the characters. I envy those writers who can make a great deal out of a small events. I tend toward the Faulknerian style of needing something obviously significant to happen and wish sometimes I could make more with less. However, Trevor seems to have the opposite knack of making very little out of potentially large events, and it leaves me feeling a bit cheated. I just finished Sam Shepherd’s story, “Land of the Living, in The New Yorker. I suppose it could be argued that Shepherd’s writing skill is on a lesser plane than Trevor’s. It’s certainly less “literary.” However, I was moved more by that one story and its rather commonplace domestic conflict than by all the stories in A Bit On The Side put together. Taste? Maybe. But there’s only so much drama in acceptance, and I would argue that storytelling needs drama. More than Trevor offers despite his superb talent and command of the short story form.
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Reviews
Robert
tWilliam Trevor’s collection of short stories, A Bit on the Side, is uniformly excellent, each story a minor masterpiece of narrative, character, theme and setting.The closest comparison in English is Dubliners, by James Joyce, and not only because both writers are Irish. Joyce through sheer economy and prose music comes out ahead, but this doesn’t discredit Trevor much. Both writers focus on the private moments of private people, looking for some miracle of happiness or sadness in life, something special, some kind of revelation or resignation, and both create a kind of silence around their characters, such that when they speak, the reader really hears the fullness of what they say, or think.tMany of Trevor’s stories in this collection, if not all, are downhill tales, by which I mean we see a recent widow revealing her loathing of her former husband, a poor couple unable to get a desperately needed loan, a cad exploiting lonely women, and the decline both of a great Irish house and a small affair.tThe essence of good short stories--their focus on details and intimate characterization--underpins all of the stories here. The title story, “A Bit on the Side,” is a case in point. Here it’s that miserable phrase describing a married man’s secret lover--his bit on the side--around which the whole affair collapses. It makes our protagonist worry that he’s dishonoring a woman he really loves; he can see that judgment in the eyes of others who think they know what he’s up to; and he can’t bear demeaning her.tMentioning Joyce raises the bar high. No one else need clear it, unless Chekhov did. Getting close is enough. Among younger writers, Colm Tóibín, another Irish writer, captures some of the desperation that goes into being Irish. For the sensitive, observant writer, this can be an advantage. Poverty strips things to the bone; attempts to get settled in America as an immigrant sharpen the senses and instantly create sympathy; the flourishes of life are seen as empty, all flash, no substance; and characters have no choice but to interact directly, if subtly--there’s no beating about the bush when you’re in trouble.tOne story, “Solitude,” is an understated tale whose contours are worthy of Henry James. The central incident is tawdry, but the protagonist’s reaction reaches deep into that haunting category, the imaginary friend. When she’s a child she has two of them; when she is an aging lady, she only has one, a different one, but this is her solitude, her portion of life despite the fact that she is rich in financial terms.tSo if you like quiet short stories, A Bit on the Side will please you a great deal.tFor more of my comments on contemporary fiction, see Tuppence Reviews (Kindle).
Moira
Amazing collection of short stories. Trevor just gets better with age. Born in Southwest Cork, Trevor is equally at home with characters of every class and type, but he is especially good at describing the weak and powerless. His stories are heartbreaking and powerful in their deceptive simplicity. He is a master of point of view as he switches seamlessly from character to character exposing complex relationships and changes. Some of my favorite stories are in his other collections, but the title story and "Sitting with the Dead" are truly memorable. Also recommend "Family Sins" with the story "Kathleen's Field" and Events at Drimaghleen."
Chris Gager
Time for more of WT's perfection. I hope he wins that Nobel Prize soon as he's really getting up there in age. Alice Munro won last year so...Sitting with the Dead - The death of a peckerhead... As usual Mr. T focuses in on stunted lives and bad decisions lived with. As usual he brings it home strong - a typical Trevor flourish: bitterness, regret, despair. Reminds me of Alice Munro's "Runaway"...Traditions - I'd read this one before in the New Yorker. Many in the collection were first published there. One thing about Trevor... he has a theme and he sticks to it. Life's a pretty unhappy place to be stuck in and most people can't seem to work it very well, though they do what they can, as in the "girl" in this story.Justina's Priest - The mournful, frustrating tone continues. A WT's wiki page says, he loves to focus on the marginalized, the powerless, the left-behinders of the modern world. The last line of this one goes over my full comprehension...An Evening Out - Didn't like this one as well but it was still good. Expectations... limitations... loneliness... another adult male/child selfish jerk-off who feels compelled to be a little more honest than usual. A gift to the nice lady...Graillis's Legacy - A man is getting on and recalls his two dead loves: a devoted wife and a soul-mate. Very reminiscent of "Death in Summer in some ways. More mournfulness...Solitude - A child's life nearly destroyed by parental infidelity. Typical Trevor! Sad, sad, sad... Reminiscent of "Two Lives" - both stories! Also "Bonjour Tristesse"... "Sling Blade". Uses "judder(ed)" like Le Carre'... that WT story from The New Yorker about the two boys and the old dog...Sacred Statues - Another tale of the marginalized... the losers in life.Rose Wept - more quiet infidelity... subtle shifting and moving of lives controlled by circumstance. Loss is inevitable.Big Bucks - the allure of America looking from the old, tired world, (Ireland). Absence makes the heart confused and uncertain.On the Streets - This one seems connected to other "stuff". Felicia's Journey and Death in Summer plus that story of the two boys and the old dog. Here's the one grown up to be that reclusive waiter. A depressed, loony-tony man harasses his ex. Did he or didn't he? Supposedly not as he keeps changing the story. What to do with someone so essentially alienated but harmless(though persistently annoying).Trevor always looks at EVERYONE in a story. Arthurs is a Bartleby both mysterious and mundane(and deeply unreachable). The narrative gets a bit confusing time-wise. Trevor does that by withholding info.The Dancing Master's Music - A poetic description of a stunted life made a bit more bearable. A Bit on the Side - The end of an affair. As usual Mr. T is restrained and no effusive. Not my favorite but love tales gone sour usually aren't. Tastefully flat... Who was who's bit on the side? They both were!- I lowered my rating to 4.5 which rounds down to 4*... The last two stories were not the best I need that Trevor edge of nastiness.
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