Think of the contemporary short story and a handful of names come to mind. Among the masters still at work, William Trevor, now in his eighties, continues to produce rich, impeccably crafted fiction. While everything he’s written in his long career is worth reading, the sheer volume of it (fourteen novels, twelve collections of stories) may overwhelm even the staunchest fans. So here is a manageable sampling of his shorter work. SELECTED STORIES (Viking, $35) gathers some 48 pieces from Trevor’s recent volumes After Rain, The Hill Bachelors, A Bit on the Side, and Cheating at Canasta. Set in small towns, rural areas of Ireland, the past, the present, these stories focus on ordinary people and their ordinary problems. But given Trevor’s patient, compassionate treatment, no one is really ordinary, and each joy, each struggle with love, loss, or loneliness is unique and valuable. 

Selected Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143115960
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Books - September 27th, 2011

No one is more particular about language than the French, so that they named Lydia Davis a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters means a lot. Davis, an American, has demonstrated her skill in rendering 19th-century French  into contemporary English over the course of a long career; her recent translation of Proust’s Swann’s  Way earned special acclaim. In addition, Davis is an accomplished fiction writer, and her profound understanding of the genre informs every detail of her new version of Gustave Flaubert’s MADAME BOVARY (Viking, $27.95). And there are many wonderful details. Flaubert’s novel of romance and adultery “is now viewed as the first masterpiece of realist fiction,” Davis says, and in it Flaubert captures not just the emotional nuances of his characters’ ennui and passion, but itemizes the everyday objects they use, the fabrics of the clothes they wear, and the conveyances they ride in. Davis’s unobtrusive endnotes supply cultural and historical details, by which today’s readers can see how acutely Flaubert captured his own time, and how much his social satire is still relevant in today’s consumer culture.

Madame Bovary Cover Image
By Gustave Flaubert, Lydia Davis (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780670022076
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Viking - September 23rd, 2010

Sarah Bakewell borrows Montaigne’s own personable, anecdotal approach for her sparkling treatise on the master essayist’s life and work. HOW TO LIVE (Other Press, $25) is the matter under investigation and Bakewell, author of two previous biographies and former curator of early printed books at the Wellcome Library, examines it from 20 different perspectives (or 21, given the nearly 60 illustrations), each one integral to Montaigne’s thought and experience. Starting with how to survive the death of a loved one, Montaigne determined that “death is only a few bad moments at the end of life,” and set about the greater challenge of living.  Combining elements from the Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics, Montaigne developed a free-ranging philosophy based not on abstractions and ideals but on daily life and fallible humanity. Always curious, open to any and all perspectives, affable, and eager for conversation, Montaigne in his essays conveys to the reader “the feeling of meeting a real person across the centuries”; Bakewell, in this vivid profile, does the same.

How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590514252
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Other Press (NY) - October 19th, 2010

How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590514832
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Other Press - September 20th, 2011