Reactions from readers of the book
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Hot Night in the City
St. Martin's Press, NY, 2000
From Publishers Weekly Wide-ranging in setting and tone, yet linked by their sense of irony and reverence for the past, these 13 short stories reflect in miniature the pseudonymous Trevanian's chameleonic career as a genre-defying author of popular fiction (Shibumi; Incident at Twenty-Mile). Most of the tales take place in pre- and post-WWII urban environments, most notably the title story, which features a lonely girl dressed up like June Allyson and a gentlemanly stalker who imitates Jimmy Stewart and W.C. Fields. Trevanian tells the story twice, the first version introducing the volume, the second ending it; each has a different denouement, but both are tragic. A similar period mustiness permeates Snatch Off Your Cap, Kid! An ode to the tramps and hobos of bygone days; After Hours at Rick's, an evocation of the timeless, edgy ennui of last call at a pick-up bar; and The Sacking of Miss Plimsoll, the story of an unusual relationship between a bestselling author and his literary secretary. Basque country serves as the backdrop for two of Trevanian's tales: a young couple come together in a light romantic farce entitled The Engine of Fate, and a village idiot improves his lot in life by pretending that he has a fortune to bequeath in That Fox-of-a-Beñat. The author ventures even farther afield with Easter Story, set in ancient Rome and detailing Pontius Pilate's first meeting with Jesus, and with a retelling of the wise and witty Onondaga creation parable How the Animals Got Their Voices.
In his own words
About your last international blockbuster, a collection of short stories titled Hot Night in The City?
I realize that in PublisherSpeak 'international blockbuster' means any book that wasn't shipped directly from the warehouse to the remainder bins. And if it sells ten copies, the word 'runaway' is added. But the fact is Hot Night in the City, a bouquet of good solid short stories, some of which received awards for being '...the best written in English this year,' and that sort of thing, was not a success, largely because it was sent out into the arena with only a rag of advertising as armor. A new Trevanian book doesn't need promotional razzmatazz , but it does need advertising. The readers have to know it is out there. Most readers, even most Trevanian buffs, don't know of the existence of Hot Night in the City... It's a pity...and I feel particularly bad for the book's editor/publisher, a thoughtful, clever and generous bookman who was let down by the system within which he works.
Some reactions from readers
from Spain, July 11, 2000 At last, some real short stories to enjoy and mull over. The beauty of this collection is its variety. All real 'tales' told in different voices that seemed quite natural for each story. I liked 'How the animals got their voices' for this reason. I wasn't really aware of how clever the second version of 'Hot night' was until I began to examine it line by line. Comparing both of them together to see how the trick was done was even more pleasure than the first reading of them. This collection is masterful and I wish we could see more. Publishers take note.
from a Trevanian Fan, Ohio, June 23, 2000 Well this is mostly for selfacclaimed Trevanian fans and some of the "critics" above. It is still to my astonishment that people who claim to have read Shibumi, Summer of Katya, the Main, etc (how else you become a Trevanian fan?) could be still so uptight about issues like a woman going to bed with a gnome. And also anybody who has a hint about the reason Trevanian writes, could want him to write for his "established reader base". Wake up people, he couldn't care less! Without forgetting the fact that the stories in The Night were written in different stages in Trevanian's career, it is a tremendous collection of the mosaic that is now called Trevanian. In my opinion, he is going to be recalled as Dickens of the 20th century by the critics and readers of the next generations for his ability to analyse the social makeup like none of his contemporaries have done in fiction. If you do not understand Trevanian, don't read it. (And any others for that matter) But for those who enjoy the excitement of the classical Trevanian story, this is a book to read at least several times for it offers refreshing insights on every pass.
from Derry , NH, USA Great reading. I picked this up at the airport, having recognized the Trevanian name but been away from him for awhile. Some of these stories were so enjoyable that I read them twice in a row. (esp. the sly Basque ones). The title story did give me the creeps, both times but the others more than made up for it. I'm glad to have this reminder of a good storyteller
from George Heedham, Booklist These 13 stories by the popular master of suspense Trevanian constitute a mixed bag. At their best, they offer spare, clean flashes of light. At their worst, they are musings in search of a point. In the first category are stories about two Basque widows locked in a lifelong dispute over the apple tree that straddles their property line; a delicious retelling of one day in the life of Pontius Pilate; and the funny saga of a playwright and an actress on a desperate mission to prevent his brother from marrying her sister. In the second category are several stories with strong openings and no payoffs, as well as a pseudo-Arthurian legend that is just a dreadful mistake. Trevanian is a popular author, however, and his work always generates requests. Buy this one sparingly because many fans will be disappointed.
from Tempe, Az. USA, 8,9,2001 Another great one - A more personal look into the mind of Trevanian than previous works. A definite must for the serious Trevanian-phyle. I've read it 3 times already.