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Cheating at Canasta

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  735 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
The publication of a new book by William Trevor is a great literary event. Trevor's last collection, A Bit on the Side, was named a New York Times Notable Book and hailed as one of the Best Books of the Year by papers from coast to coast, including The Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle. And his earlier collection, After Rain, published in 1996, was named one of t ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 18th 2007 by Viking Adult (first published September 25th 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Dec 04, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As usual, wonderful writing from William Trevor. See
When reviewing a new book by William Trevor, one needs to acknowledge the issue of impossibly high expectations. Previous short story collections of his ("Ireland", for example: are so amazing that it's not realistic to expect the same level of brilliance every time.

That said, this is the first of his books that I've read that was a disappointment. Although two or three of the stories in this collection were terrific ("Bravado" and "Folie a Deux"), most
Feb 02, 2008 Yulia rated it it was ok
how is it never mentioned in the gushing reviews of trevor's work how clumsy he is at capturing the voice of younger generations or those of other races (i may not be black, but i do know that people aren't "fly" with something, they're "down" with it). it also made no sense how, because the man in the title story was grieving for his late wife, that necessarily meant that any married couple was missing the joys of shared life by being upset with one another. sometimes disagreements happen and t ...more
May 25, 2008 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: short story lovers
Recommended to Jamie by: ME! Since I first read Trevor.
Shelves: just-for-fun
I love short stories and William Trevor may be one of my favorite short story writers. I'd read the story "An Afternoon" before and it felt even stronger in context of the others. I enjoy the way Trevor writes middle aged-ennui, the sadness, the resignation, and the beauty as well. It's been said before and I'll say it again....William Trevor is a master of the form.
Feb 27, 2010 Grady rated it it was amazing
'Darkness very darkness is sectional'

Perhaps this old Gertrude Stein quote is as apt a way as any to introduce comments on this book by William Trevor, that master of Chekhovian style of story telling, that fills this slight but profound book CHEATING AT CANASTA. This is not a book for every reader: readers not familiar with Trevor's group of characters - marginalized members of society, children, old people, single middle-aged men and women, or the unhappily married - may find this group of sho
Terri Jacobson
Mar 26, 2014 Terri Jacobson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
William Trevor was described by The New Yorker as "the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language." This book was my first encounter with him, and I would agree with that statement. The 12 stories in this book were lyrical and emotionally resonant. The characters each confronted regret or aging or the break-up of a relationship. They were like little novels to me, they were so packed with meaning. I love Trevor's writing style and I could get lost in his prose. I especially ...more
From BBC Radio 4 - Afternnon Drama:
A chance meeting in Paris revives powerful memories of a shared past on an Irish beach. Story collection read by William Trevor.

Apparently, the following episodes were forgotten by BBC.....
Feb 08, 2008 Annabelle rated it really liked it
dude, this man is dark. The collection of short stories opens up with a neglected daughter of the town drunk getting killed while playing in the middle of a lonely, dusty road. It is sad, it really is but it is beautiful, Trevor has a way of making the sadness feel alive. I hate him for making me enjoy every ounce of sadness. argh!
Jun 04, 2008 Toshio rated it it was amazing
While I wouldn't necessarily give all the stories in this collection five stars, the title story is amazing, especially the way it works through the central metaphor of the card game (canasta is played by two pairs of couples), and the heartfelt honesty of the story comes across with such precision.
Mar 27, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
William Trevor is my new hero. Why didn't we read him in grad school?
Aug 10, 2010 Dianne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I am living proof of the folly of judging a book by it's cover. I was looking forward to reading this novel, loaned to me by a friend. I found the title appealing, thinking for some odd reason that it sounded light-hearted, which I don't usually look for at all but I've read several seriously heavy books lately and I'm looking for something with at least a little bit of hope in it.

I read the first chapter. Ok, it's not going to be light-hearted, but I'm no quitter so on to chapter two.

New charac
Tom Carrico
Jan 31, 2009 Tom Carrico rated it it was amazing
Book Review

Cheating at Canasta
By William Trevor

Reviewed by Tom Carrico

The short story evolved from the oral story telling traditions of ancient and medieval times. The modern short story became popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth century when the proliferation of literary magazines created a huge demand for short fiction. Anton Chekhov is viewed as the greatest short story writer of the late nineteenth century. American proponents of this genre include Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irvin
For some reason, it didn't register until I saw the table of contents that I was going to be reading a short story collection. I also thought Cheating at Canasta a mischievous title. How wrong I was. This wasn't a book I was in the mood for, because these stories were despairing, hopeless, bleak. I don't mean to say they weren't good - they probably were. Some even moved me - An Afternoon - where the teenage main character has a narrow escape from a pervert, for example. One was perfection - Fol ...more
Alina De teresa

All the stories are about guilt. How it comes about, how we live with it, guilt, regrets, sorrow, pain... Dark stories of guilt. Well written, simple words but profound meanings..
Oct 21, 2010 Tony rated it liked it
Shelves: irish
The same lovely lyricism as can always be expected with Trevor; but with rare exception (The Dressmaker's Child), the stories just didn't feel like they will linger.
Sep 15, 2014 Rick rated it really liked it
Read this collection of impeccable short stories by William Trevor while traveling back and forth to Washington on a train. Not the ideal way to grasp the subtleties of this master craftsman. In very tales Trevor captures the innumerable strengths and weaknesses of his so very human characters. There are many of life's disappointments greeting his characters but all that occurs flows naturally from the flaws within these fundamentally decent human beings. Trevor never disappoints and I am glad t ...more
May 22, 2011 Jack rated it really liked it
A lovely and haunting elegy for sad and unfilled lives. Even the wealthier subjects of Trevor's latest collection of stories live a threadbare existence, barren of happiness and contentment. Their fine houses must be converted to a golf course; or their adult happiness was fatally destroyed during an act of thoughtless childhood cruelty.

Trevor is a master of scene-setting. His modern Irish tales take place in achingly exact settings - a sad suburban house; the run-down cafe in a lesser quarter
Josh Ang
Jan 25, 2011 Josh Ang rated it really liked it
Not one to waste words, William Trevor's sentences are so concise that they're not the most easy to read as so much information is packed in. His pithy prose demands full concentration from the reader; glean it over with a cursory eye and important nuances are lost. But when you do pay attention, huge rewards await you.

This collection of 12 tales draws together a myriad of characters:

a 73 year-old almost abandoned wife grapples with the omnipresence of her husband's lover, the not-so clandestin
Jan 14, 2009 Adele rated it liked it
I wish I could give this three and a half stars. Because Cheating at Canasta is a short story collection, I took my time while reading it, even interrupting myself with other books a couple times. I remember liking the first stories in the book better than the last ones I read today which are fresh in my mind, so much so it's difficult to remember what I liked exactly about the earlier stories. Trevor generally has a very light touch, something I really appreciate in a writer. The stories in Che ...more
Jan 05, 2011 Raindrop rated it really liked it
I was introduced to Trevor's work through some interviews Yiyun Li had given. Li has mentioned that her writing is heavily influenced by Trevor, and I can see why. Trevor is a subtle and thoughtful story teller. He captures the relationship between people with dexterity, grace and empathy. His characters strive to understand themselves and others. Their self-reflections and humility lend them a great deal of dignity even under the most desolate situations. You care about the characters and what ...more
Aug 28, 2009 Lawrence rated it liked it
I give this book three stars because the stories are by William Trevor who has a very fine voice. He is a stupendous writer but this is a "just put together" collection. I guess it was somebody's idea.

I admit that I am not a big fan of short stories. I was disappointed in this collection. All the stories have the same tone and the same kind of inexpressive people --- joyless. Maybe I'm missing national/regional traits, but England is not so demure --- it's lively and it was lively long ago, too
Bookmarks Magazine

Critics enthusiastically greet any new collection by William Trevor. Cheating at Canasta is no exception, with many reviewers calling it one of the best of Trevor's 12 short story collections. Two of the stories have already won the O. Henry Award, though the volume contains seven unpublished stories as well. New readers will find it a fitting introduction to his work, and longtime fans will find another bleak delight. Reviewers were particularly impressed that the 80-year-old Trevor remains bot

Mar 20, 2014 Liz rated it it was ok
The majority of these stories I read in the New Yorker several years back. Trevor is no doubt a master of the short story (his "A Bit on the Side" is one of my favorite short stories ever), but I felt left short by many of these. While life's events don't necessarily come with neat meanings, that is one of the pleasures of reading fiction - the author invents structure, meaning, story arc, denouement, etc. Perhaps at another time I will be more in the mood for uncertainty, ambiguity.
Vestal McIntyre
If you feel like everything that can be written has been written, this collection is the antidote. Trevor has gone very dark in his old age, and to read the opening story "The Dressmaker's Daughter" is something akin to falling victim to a hit-and-run. (You'll see what I mean.) If you survive that, you'll get a tour of the more crooked avenues of human experience, with some lovely moments of sweetness, like the title story. The theme of guilt surfaces again and again, but in unexpected forms, of ...more
Jun 27, 2008 Lindsey rated it liked it
I absolutely loved Trevor's 'Two Lives' and this collection of stories didn't quite live up to my memories of that book. Trevor writes beautiful dialog though and that shines through in these stories.

All of the stories are tinged with sadness and a bit of nostalgia. I found 'Old Flame' and 'The Children' particularly compelling. Both of those stories are quite sad, and yet beautiful in the way they explore the strange and difficult choices we make when we are thinking of the people we love. Don
May 26, 2009 Jill rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After it's incredible review in EW, I bought it in Paperback. I don't know what to do with this one. I actually didn't read all of the stories all the way through. However, I did find 3 absolutely compelling, shocking and traumatic stories that have stuck with me, days later. It's an enigma, this book. Some of the stories I would be reading and realize that I wasn't taking in a single word. Others (the 3 above) I would be so engrossed that I wouldn't hear my train stop.

I'm really torn. Perhaps
Oct 05, 2014 Lesley rated it liked it
I gave up about halfway through. I loved The Story of Lucy Gault by Trevor and had my book club "do it".
But this is a book of short stories, all with a main theme of cheating, lying, getting away with something, and that gets tedious after awhile. The characters are not well developed because of the length of the stories, and the last one I read seemed to just plod along with nothing happening.

Why did I give it 3 stars? They are well written and he's usually a good author. Try his Lucy Gault fo
Dec 13, 2009 janet rated it liked it
I heard another author read one of his stories on a podcast from the New Yorker, and I had to read more of him. The story was arresting in its, I guess, sympathetic dissection of the neurosis of the story's main character. Well, this book didn't disappoint. However, I wasn't as interested in the all of characters as in the story I heard, but some of them were really interesting. His best stories were actually about cheating or losing loved ones. My favourites are the ones where you don't really ...more
Jul 12, 2012 Paco6556 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
James es un hombre callado y discreto que ama a su mujer, pero lleno también de decisión, defensor de la historia como un paisaje de dignidad y tradición; es un hombre de acción dentro de su actitud moderada. Mollie, su mujer, que siente recíproco amor hacia él, está dividida, no obstante, porque comprende, o desea comprender, la decisión de sus hijos.

“¿Y qué va a ser de la heredad, donde hemos convivido tanto tiempo y a la que tanto debemos? ¿Qué va a ser de la historia?” le dirá a Tom, su hijo
Tessa Smith
Sep 11, 2014 Tessa Smith rated it it was amazing
The title story is one that lives forever in the mind, makes me glad I'm not the main character, makes me love William Trevor for writing such a moving story. If I met him I'd give him a great big hug!
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William Trevor, KBE grew up in various provincial towns and attended a number of schools, graduating from Trinity College, in Dublin, with a degree in history. He first exercised his artistry as a sculptor, working as a teacher in Northern Ireland and then emigrated to England in search of work when the school went bankrupt. He could have returned to Ireland once he became a successful writer, he ...more
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“Shame isn't bad, her voice from somewhere else insists. Nor the humility that is its gift.” 6 likes
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