4 thoughts on “Collected Stories – William Trevor


    “Why did you say cow-parsley?”

    From ‘releasing a lease’ to an oblique twist at the end about a pink cheque for five pounds, this is possibly the greatest short story I have ever read. No exaggeration. Between Mrs da Tanka and Mr Mileson encountering each other, both cluttered with the baggage of their respective backstories, neither satisfied by their night together. Or am I attempting to clarify an issue that should stay clouded?


    A sadly poignant story – sadly humorous, too, in a strange way – of a man now going to seed after ‘murdering’ his marriage to Elizabeth by having an affair with Diana whom he met on a train. Diana has now left him. He now lives from Sunday to Sunday, on which day he has access to his two young daughters and tries to find things for them to do in London, but they end up watching The Golden Shot and Songs of Praise on his TV, as he gradually gets drunk. Meanwhile Elizabeth, with whom he shares a birthday date, has a new man, but he still hopes that good sense will prevail by renewing their marriage… a Gimlet in his eye? Beautifully done, with nice touches of the daughters’ conversations. Somehow uplifting by being an adept story to cherish simply for what it is with old day Sundays evoked, but, overall, real sad.


    “The past was his hunting ground; from it came his pleasure and a good deal of everything else. Yet he was not proof against the moment he lived in.”

    I, too, once bored people with astrology, but never as a conversational befriending device, like 78 year old General Suffolk. I, too, feel guilty, when going to the cinema in the afternoon, but that is unlike General Suffolk. This is of its time. Women with cigarettes hung autonomously from their mouths. The General on the search for a woman on his day out, but ironically leaving a woman back in his own place doing for him, as they used to say. A hilarious but poignant portrait of this man, getting drunker and drunker. Men got drunk more easily then. See previous story. By the way, I loved the item of backstory, though, about the duel in the General’s younger days. And the blade – or a similar one – that he drew blood with, hung on someone else’s wall today.


    “; and then she thought it was decidedly odd, a detective going on about his past to an elderly woman on the terrace of an hotel.”

    Two friends, retired woman teachers, on holiday on continent, sitting side by side in deckchairs. When one is gone temporarily, the private detective on surveillance sits in the other deckchair, and says he wants casual conversation so as to appear casual… makes her squiffy with drinks he buys … but his memories of childhood, nostalgic and tragic, were they made up or real? And when the other woman returns, who made up or concocted whom, and who would gossip later about it all – or not, as the case may be? Details here of colours, things, memories, drinks, plants, and much more, seem to be off some wall of literature that I remember as a child would later preoccupy me as an old man, whether either blocking my view or entrancing me remained to be seen, as it is now seen, but I am still unsure.

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