Thursday, 20 August 2009

Unexpected Trevor

I was pleased to find, in the catalogue of a library to which I have access, a copy of William Trevor's first novel, A Standard of Behaviour. I've never read this, and never seen it for sale, since it seems to have been suppressed by the author, and no longer appears on the list of his other works at the front of his books.

So then I found the book in the stacks, and was delighted to see the cover (you really need to click on it for the full effect)...



I have no idea who did the artwork, but this was the last edition of this novel to see print. It is literal interpretation of a scene in the book.

A Standard of Behaviour is by no means a great book, but it's very enjoyable in the way of lot of books from its time and place (1950s England) turn out to be: amusing, observant, with an atmosphere of post-War shabbiness and somewhat dated "daring" subject matter: a thoroughly pleasant way to pass the time, and ultimately a little forgettable. You would have been unlikely to guess, based on this first outing, that Trevor would go on to be a novelist and, most especially, short story writer of fearsome talent.

6 comments:

downtown guy said...

Wow! I love the little group on the far left - the guy with the cane and the two gals. Great cover, because I'm kind of dying to know what they're talking about.

downtown guy said...

Ha, I meant the two guys and the gal. I was taken with the cane man and the pale girl and didn't take a good look at their companion.

Pete said...

Wow. That description doesn't sound like Trevor at all, though I'm guessing the cover copy and art are a lot more outrageous than the narrative itself, even from a young Trevor. That library is remarkably openminded. Any book with that cover art would be banned in most of the libraries around me.

Ian Shimkoviak said...

thought you might like: http://ffffound.com/image/3a9b6d200c09a8de27b2dd7fa83c0206933274ea

BTW, that previous post was fucking funny...

JRSM said...

Downtown Guy: I know what you mean--it's easy to get distracted by this cover. I want to know about the girl in the Indian get-up, as she doesn't feature in the book and is entirely the work of the mysterious artist who did the cover.

Pete: Yes, it's a bit of an uncharacteristic book, which I suppose is why he keeps it quiet these days. And you're right about the copy/art--though all of that happens in the book, it's told in an oddly deadpan, de-eroticised way.

JRSM said...

Ian: Cheers! That van Vogt cover is great--and I love the 'you might like these too' images, too.