His stories are uncontaminated by principles of composition, or even by respectable generalities touching on how sentences ought to be made. His sentences are frequently in the passive voice; his verbs eschew the pursuit of energy. Overall, his prose is serviceable and ready to hand ... Most notably, his stories open with comments so blandly informational, so plain and unnoticeable, that they arouse no expectation and appear to promise little ... such flat and unhurried beginnings are subversions concealing a powerful slyness. Trevor’s stories traffic in plots, fated or willed, and hurtful. They may be coiled in pity, but they are never benign; their pity is unregenerative. Nor do they carry broad social vistas or axes to grind or hidden symbols ... in this small, final, seemingly quiet but ultimately volcanic book of stories, Trevor denies and defies — maybe spites — the promise of decline. As for volcanic: his people, at the finish of each turning of circumstance, are stunned and stilled, like the molds lava once made of the victims of Pompeii. And it is as if he will never run out of plots ... we honor him as the supreme master of his honest art.
Fate dominates the marginalized characters — children, the elderly, single middle-aged men and women — who are struggling with what Trevor referred to in a 1989 Paris Review interview as life’s 'meaninglessness.' But his humanistic storytelling redeems each of these lives without judgment ... Odd and unexpected relationships define many of the stories in the collection, often as love languishes somewhere in the narrative equation ... Trevor’s half-century’s worth of masterful short fiction is justifiably admired ... These exemplary Last Stories underscore that well-earned praise.
Death casts its shadow in much of Trevor’s work, including these final tales — several of which involve characters who have lost spouses or parents. Yet aging and mortality are still not the central focus. What stands out is the acceptance of loss, reduced circumstances, constraints and even pervasive loneliness. Not just resignation but peaceful acceptance, which is more positive ... Partway through this sobering valedictory collection filled with lonely people, the lyrics to the Beatles’ 'Eleanor Rigby' started playing in my head ... Loneliness, even more than mortality, may well be the aspect of the human condition that struck Trevor most forcefully in the end.