Excursions in the real world : memoirs

by William Trevor

Paper Book, 1994




New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1994.


These autobiographical tales are about people and places, personal fascinations and enthusiasms, that have remained snagged in William Trevor's memory over the years. He writes here of childhood and youth, of his schools and university days, his early life in Dublin and London, of Ireland and of England. Most of the portraits are of people who have either been well known to him or casually met a few are drawn from the imagination, though the subjects are real. Some of the landscapes are equally familiar to him, while others are merely glimpsed: Persia in the early seventies, a Swiss valley, County Cork in the thirties, a Gloucestershire village, Venice in November, New York and San Francisco. "Places do not die as people do," William Trevor writes in his introduction, "but they often changed so fundamentally that little is left of what once they were. The landscape of the Nire valley that spreads over a northern part of Country Waterford is timeless, but the Dublin remembered here is the Dublin of several pasts, and elsewhere among these impressions there is that same dichotomy."Affectionate, poignant and often gently humorous, these essays are an expansion of a writer's notebook. Such excursions into memory convey the essence of William Trevor's world — read in conjunction with Lucy Willis's graceful illustrations, they illuminate unforgettably the background to this celebrated novels and short stories.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member SeanLong
William Trevor’s Excursions in the Real World is a book of myriad essays, more or less in chronological order, though they are memoirs only and not a full-fledged autobiography. In all these re-creations Trevor depicts an exceptional power of forgiveness. Henry O'Reilly, the farmer who once taught him to snare a rabbit, was known as the laziest man in Ireland, but seemed to him the nicest. Marchant Smith was a ruinous bully, but at least he employed the otherwise unemployable. A co-woker named Sarzy soon became impossible, but she was an innocent, and innocence is a quality Trevor highly prizes. It’s a delightful book, which seemed so relaxed as to be almost casual.… (more)
LibraryThing member yooperprof
The autobiographical essays - mostly about the author's upbringing in rural Ireland in the 1930s and 40s - are much better than the travel essays, which while well-written rarely rise above the level of competency.
LibraryThing member stevesmits
Trevor -- as always the most marvelous writer. I especially enjoyed his reflections on growing up in Ireland as a member of the (not so prosperous) Ascendancy. His memories of boarding school and Trinity are poignant and funny. He offers frank opinions, not the usual paeans of praise, on the personalities of some of the notables of Irish literature: Yeats, O'Casey and Beckett. Fascinating on a now obscure writer Gerhardie, well-respected for a time but later burned out. Wonderful description of his walk through the mountains near Tipperary and Clonmel. Didn't care as much for his musings on New York in the early 70's or on Venice.… (more)


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