‘Bravado’ by William Trevor

Bravado by William Trevor, 2007

The magic trick:

A violent story told calmly

William Trevor takes us inside the rocking, rollicking world of the teenage nightlife in Dublin. The screeching loud music of the club, the 2 a.m. walks home, and, most significantly in this story, the drunken showmanship of a young man trying to impress a young woman.

It’s a wild world where very dumb things happen very often.

So it’s not surprising then that something very dumb and very bad happens in this story.

What is surprising is the way the story’s volume never rises to match the plot’s drama. The storytelling here is so measured and so precise that its calmness in doling out the details only serves to emphasize the emotional destruction wrought by that drama.

And that’s quite a trick on Trevor’s part.

The selection:

Laughing again, Manning sounded drunk, Aisling thought. Not very, but a little. She’d been drunk once or twice herself but hadn’t liked it, everything slipping about, and the way you felt in the morning.

“Did you ever, though?” Manning pressed, offering Donovan a cigarette.

Donovan said he had of course, many a time, and Aisling knew all this was for her and for the girl who’d tagged along, whose name she had forgotten. “Awesome,” Donovan said, he and Manning lighting their cigarettes, sharing the match. No one else was a smoker.


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