Literate Fiction

William Trevor

I was introduced to William Trevor when working at RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut.  Karl Ryan, the manager who hired me recommended a whole host of authors to me and being Irish as he was he took a fancy to writers from his homeland. Trevor was one of those said authors.  One of the traits that many of Karl’s choices shared along with his heritage was a bleakness, a somberness to the writing style.

All of Karl’s recommendations to me were of high caliber writing, very literate.  Not your pop mainstream fiction.  One of the reasons we clicked so well is the fact I also looked for literature to supplement my mainstream pop fiction.  William Trevor fit this need well.

Two of my favorites by Trevor are:
Felicia’s Journey

Felicia is pregnant and unmarried living in an impoverished Irish community, She slips away  in search of the boyfriend who left her, traveling to England where she finds not the boyfriend but someone else with far darker fancies.

This a dark tale, then as I said above, Trevor is known for his bleakness.  He is such a fine writer that the distressing tales he tells more than makes up for the darkness.

The Story of Lucy Gault

Another similarity trait to Felicia’s Journey that Lucy Gault shares is a young girl who escapes Ireland and travels to England.  This is also another dark tale, but one well worth reading.

–Patrick McGrath
McGrath is another author that Karl Ryan introduced to me.

Two of my favorites by McGrath follow:


According to Publisher’s Weekly, Spider has a mix of Poe intertwined with the story. Anything that reads like Poe is golden to me as Poe is one of my favorites.  I must agree with this assessment as I saw much of what Publishers… was referring to.  McGrath’s style does harken back to Poe and not just with Spider but with many of his books.

Spider comes home after twenty years in an institution and believes it was his father who killed his mother not himself.


This is quintessential McGrath.

Having read several books by Patrick McGrath, I can say without hesitation that Asylum is McGrath at his best.  Edgar Stark, a patient at a maximum security institution is assigned to be the gardener.  Stark and the wife of the institution’s manager become infatuated with each other and that infatuation leads to an affair.  The fact that Edgar Stark murdered his wife doesn’t prevent the affair from going forward.

Another dark book, brilliantly written.

John Banville

Banville I discovered on my own.  I read The Book of Evidence over a three day period during the summer of 1989 while I worked at Hammonasset Beach in Madison, Connecticut.  Written in the first person, The Book of Evidence is unusual in that most books not written in this style.  That caught my immediate attention.

Banville is another very literate author and I particularly enjoy taking my time with a book that requires more of my attention then some of the pop fiction that is being published today.

You certainly can’t go wrong with any of these three authors I’ve highlighted here today and any one of these authors will enthrall you with the language they use to create their worlds.

Until next time…
…Turn the page.


Literate Fiction

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