William Trevor (1928-2016)

Cheating at Canasta

Another story selected from Cheating at Canasta (2007), this one the title story for the collection.

I’ve seen some mixed reviews about the collection Cheating at Canasta and as I haven’t yet read some of the stories that have attracted the comments, I can’t judge whether I’m in agreement.

I loved this story, however, and read it twice at a sitting. The Harry’s Bar setting in Venice, the inter-relationship between the narrator and the other characters in the story, the unspoken conversations with his wife.  I found myself dwelling for some time on the conundrum confronting the narrator, about whether it mattered if he did or didn’t fulfil his promise to his wife of returning to their favourite haunts.  Would I have gone?  Possibly not.  Why wouldn’t I have gone?  Probably the fear that it just wouldn’t be the same. Would I have spoken to the American couple? Would I have share with them my reason for being there? Would I have ended up at the same place as the narrator?  To leave the reader with something to think about is, surely, the point of a certain type of short story.

Trevor, in Cheating at Canasta, manages to pack a whole world into a few short pages and I was very glad to pay a visit, despite the sadness of the subject matter.