William Trevor’s quiet artistry

Jon Banville at The New Statesman:

William Trevor was the literary heir of Chekhov, Maupassant and the James Joyce of the short-story collection Dubliners. He was one of the great contemporary chroniclers of the human condition, in all its pathos, comedy and strangeness. As a writer he looked at the world with an always surprised but never scandalised eye, and his writer’s heart was with those awkward and obscurely damaged souls who cannot quite manage the business of everyday life – all of us, that is.

The philosopher John Dewey beautifully designated Ralph Waldo Emerson “the poet of ordinary days”. The same can be said of Trevor. As every maker of fiction knows – and, indeed, as every poet knows, too – the most difficult thing to write about is the so-called ordinary. Emerson himself declared that “a man is a god in ruins”, and although Trevor’s epiphanies are small-scale and even mundane, nevertheless the god is radiantly manifest in all his work. What this wonderful writer shows us is that in fact there is nothing ordinary about the ordinary.

more here.