EXCURSIONS IN THE REAL WORLD by William Trevor

EXCURSIONS IN THE REAL WORLD

Memoirs

KIRKUS REVIEW

All of the fragments that make up this memoir by the contemporary master have appeared previously in (mostly) British periodicals. But not all of them meet Trevor's usually high literary standards. Less surprisingly, Trevor here speaks in the same measured tones of his fiction, and there is little in the way of self- revelation. Arranged chronologically by subject--not year of composition--the earliest pieces form a compelling portrait of Protestant life in the hard-core Catholic south of Ireland, where Trevor, in his youth, was always treated fairly, even in Catholic schools. Carried along by his father's itinerant career in banking, the Trevor boys were exposed to the wondrous landscape of Ireland. Trevor remembers with particular fondness County Cork, but his real love was indoors at the cinema, where he escaped from a series of horrid schools and teachers. Boarding school in Dublin was dreadful under a headmaster whose only concerns were cricket and spelling bees. But there were inspiring teachers as well: a sculptor with exacting standards, a Yeats scholar of ethereal brilliance, and a theologian of sound moral reason. Later, at Trinity, Trevor spent more time enjoying Dublin nightlife than serious scholarly pursuits, all of which ill prepared him for his first job as a schoolteacher. In London, during the Fifties, Trevor slowly acquired the skills of a copywriter, surrounded by all sorts of interesting characters and supervised by an indulgent boss. The last third of this patchwork book pieces together travel essays about the Shah's Iran, New York City in the 70's, and "invigorating" San Francisco. Literary reviews take the author so far from himself that it comes as a pleasant shock when he ends with a lyrical celebration of the Nire Valley in County Tipperary. Vintage Trevor--most especially in the self-deprecating early sketches and the schoolboy portraits.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0140240292
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1993




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