William Trevor, Short Story Master, Dies

9780143115960William Trevor, the author the NYT describes as writing, “mournful, sometimes darkly funny short stories and novels about the small struggles of unremarkable people [that] placed him in the company of masters like V. S. Pritchett, W. Somerset Maugham and Chekhov,” has died at the age of 88.

Born in Ireland and a long time resident of Britain, his characters were often “hanging on to the bottom rung of the lower middle class, [waging] unequal battle with capricious fate,” the NYT‘s continues.

“I’m very interested in the sadness of fate, the things that just happen to people,” Trevor told Publishers Weekly in 1983.

While he wrote novels, Trevor saw himself as a short story author. The NYT‘s reports his saying “I’m a short-story writer who writes novels when he can’t get them into short stories … [my] novels are “a lot of linked-up short stories.” He told the Paris Review that a short story was “the art of the glimpse.”

The LA Times lists his honors: “He won one of Britain’s top literary prizes, the Whitbread, three times; was short-listed four times for the Booker Prize, most recently in 2002 for “The Story of Lucy Gault”; and was a perennial object of speculation as a potential Nobel literature laureate.”

He also earned praise from fellow authors. The LA Times further reports, “Graham Greene praised Trevor’s 1973 collection Angels at the Ritz as the best set of short stories since Dubliners, James Joyce’s 1914 collection.”

His last collection of short stories was selected as one of the NYT’s 10 Best Books of 2010. In their glowing review, the paper says the book:

“assembles the stories from William Trevor’s last four collections, so that in effect it’s a sequel to the huge edition of his collected stories that came out in 1992. Together the two books add up to almost 2,000 pages of short fiction … and they are more than ample proof that Trevor is one of the two greatest short-story writers working in English right now. The other is Alice Munro, and no one else is even close.”

One of his last works, a short story for The New Yorker, is still available online.

Below is a reading by Trevor held in NYC’s 92nd Street Y:

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