The Hill Bachelors by William Trevor – Selection 4 of #DealMeIn2018

The Card: ♠Eight♠ of Hearts

The Suit: For 2018, I have devoted the suit of ♠Hearts♠ to the stories of William Trevor, a personal favorite author of mine who passed away in 2017.

The Selection: The Hill Bachelors – from the collection “William Trevor: Selected Stories” which I own via an e-copy

The Author: William Trevor. A “KBE” (Knight of the British Empire), Trevor is widely acknowledged as one of the best contemporary writers of short stories. I was first introduced to him via the “Ana the Imp” blog (sadly, no longer active) whereafter I read through his great collection “After Rain.” The title story of that volume after rainremains one of my all time favorites. I blogged about it here. There are a couple other stories of his that I’ve blogged about before, Gilbert’s Mother and Lost Ground. “I’m very interested in the sadness of fate, the things that just happen to people,” – William Trevor (as quoted by Publishers Weekly in 1983)

What is Deal Me In? I’m glad you asked!  Full details may be found here  but generally speaking it’s a reading challenge where participants try to read one short story a week for the year, the reading order being determined by the luck of the draw. See here for the list of stories I’ll be reading in 2018. Check the sidebar for links to other book bloggers who are participating in this year’s challenge.

The Hill Bachelors

“It might not have been noticed that these days the bachelors of the hills found it difficult to attract a wife to the modest farms they inherited.”

This was a quietly powerful story. The patriarch of a family has died, and the five children return home for the funeral & cetera. We follow the story through the perspective of the youngest – and only bachelor – son, Paulie. Probably few of us have not experienced the bittersweet reunions that such occasions create. As someone who has,  I can say that Trevor’s descriptions and summary of the events that follow hit very close to the target.

Paulie’s mother is of an age where she will be too old to manage the farm herself, even with the help of neighbors, which she argues would be enough to sustain her without one of her children (Paulie, being a bachelor and “only” having a job that would be easy to quit, being the only candidate) moving back to help her.  He tells her that she’d “be dependent,” but she argues that “You have your own life, Paulie,” to which he replies “You have what there is.” A touching exchange – indeed much of the story is quite touching. There are logistics to be worked out regarding leaving his current job and other sundry tasks related to a death in the family, but, finally,

“He’d taken over. She could feel he’d taken over, the way he’d gone out to see were the heifers all right, the way it was he who remembered, last evening and this morning, that there was the bit of milking to do, that he’d done it without a word.”

Paulie doesn’t mind “taking over” but sadness creeps into the story when we realize that he will not be able to find a wife in the neighborhood. (He’s left behind a girl in the town where he worked, who he thought might be “the one.”) He doesn’t even resent that though (although it pains his mother):

“Paulie harboured no resentment, not being a person who easily did: going back to the farmhouse was not the end of the world. The end of the world had been to hear, in Meagher’s back bar, that life on a farm did not attract Patsy Finucane.”

Another great story from Trevor.

What about YOU? How did your Deal Me In reading go this week?

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5 Comments

  1. Dale said,

    January 24, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    “Quietly powerful” seems to describe the Trevor stories I’ve read. I think I’ve read two or three. This one sounds like another great one! The stories I’ve read so far for my DMI2018 have been really good. My Week 4 is another Kentucky story – “Lost Land of Youth” by Jesse Stuart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      January 25, 2018 at 8:15 am

      I’ve had really good luck with my DMI2018 selections so far too. Dare I suggest we’ve honed our ‘screening process’ to a degree where this is to be expected? 🙂

      I am looking forward to reading my way through Trevor. I think there is also a posthumous book due to be published soon of his “last stories” or some title like that.

      -Jay

      Liked by 1 person

  2. marianallen said,

    January 25, 2018 at 9:46 am

    As if I don’t have a large enough TBR pile, this exercise is adding to it! lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. vidyatiru said,

    January 30, 2018 at 4:01 am

    Totally agree with Marian!! My read was an essay (and did not stop at one) from Me Talk Pretty One Day – http://www.ladyinreadwrites.com/learning-is-fun-be-it-languages-or-math/

    Like


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