by William Trevor (2018)
When Trevor died in November 2016, I knew of a handful of his stories that had not yet been collected into a book. I wondered about their fate, assuming there weren’t enough stories to fill a collection, that some day they’d just be put into some “collected” volume. I didn’t actually hope there were more stories I didn’t know about. I was wrong! Just when I thought we’d gotten all we were going to get from the master, out came Last Stories. As sad as it is to get a volume entitled Last Stories, it’s also an occasion to settle in and appreciate what the master was writing about in the last years of his life.
I’d read five of these in the years since Trevor’s penultimate collection, Cheating at Canasta, was published in 2007, and it’s clear to me that Trevor was not losing his skill. These are beautifully told stories about the complicated human heart, often closed off in solitude and silence. “An Idyll in Winter,” in particular, is up there with all of my favorite short stories.
Now, it’s time to dive into the six stories I haven’t written about on The Mookse and the Gripes. The first will be “A Crippled Man,” published originally in The New Yorker as “The Woman of the House” in December 2008, just before I started covering The New Yorker fiction section here. I read that a number of times when it was published, and I enjoyed it even more last night when I read it again out on our quiet porch as the sun was going down. Then it will be time to dig into the five stories in this final collection that I didn’t know existed.
Here are the stories with links to their individual posts (links to all will be coming as the posts appear).
Besides being an index post, this post is also meant to be an invitation. I hope you’ll consider reading along! These late stories are not long at all, but they are worth spending some time with. I have no particular schedule for posting these, but I will be taking them one at a time in the order they are presented in the book. So, after “The Crippled Man” revisit is posted, the next will be “At the Caffè Daria.” I’m a bit scared to go through these, his last stories, even though I have plenty of his work still to read. Still, this is a gift, and even on the basis of the five stories I’ve read, this is a tremendous collection of human stories.