The Book of Wonders

In these nine stories, Douglas Trevor explores unsettling and comic moments when people lose their bearings, reinvent themselves, or resolve—sometimes haplessly—to make sense of their lives. Characters in The Book of Wonders uncover a lost Shakespearean couplet, search for a mother’s secret in the pages of a book, and offer themselves up for experiments in which stories are delivered directly from the writer’s brain to the reader’s. The unsuspecting are kidnapped by teenagers and bitten by raccoons. Some go on Prozac. Others rely on bowling to persevere. In a variety of moods and settings, The Book of Wonders reminds us not only of the struggle to connect, but also of what the most unlikely of people may realize they share.



Praise for “The Book of Wonders”


“The stories in this masterly collection are peopled with characters who are made to confront their frustrated ambitions, their existential misgivings, and their physical and moral shortcomings in deftly controlled narratives which are, by turns, darkly humorous, teasingly satirical and wickedly erudite. Extraordinary in their range of subject matter, from riffs on Greek mythology to bang up to the minute dystopias, these stories leave the reader with much to ponder and admire.”

Colm Tóibín, author of House of Names



The Book of Wonders is aptly titled. These are richly inventive and deftly executed stories that brim with life—unpredictable, lyric, energetic, ‘storytelling’ at its finest. Doug Trevor is intrigued by the vicissitudes of ‘character’ and his stories touch upon moral, intellectual, spiritual issues that engage us all.”

Joyce Carol Oates



“Trevor’s (Girls I Know, 2013) second book of stories is nimble and smart—bookish in a mostly good way. These characters, often academics, tend to be feeling hapless in middle age, and they crave life changes that their habits and mildness and shore-hugging aren’t likely to allow—until Trevor puts them into collisions with big disruptive forces: a boyfriend who seems sprung from mythology (“Endymion”), an iconoclastic writer of experimental fiction (“The Novelist and the Short Story Writer”), the threat of exposure as an embezzler (“The Program in Profound Thought”). The satiric elements in these stories, especially toward their beginnings, can be a bit easy and overbroad, but by taking his characters’ emotional plights with utmost seriousness even as he lampoons their circumstances, Trevor manages again and again to steer the stories into deeper, weirder, more fascinating waters. In “The Detroit Frankfurt School Discussion Group,” for example, Colin, a recently divorced sad-sack adjunct instructor in English, having failed to reorder his life through golf, Thai cooking, learning Russian, strong drink, internet dating, and so on, is kidnapped off the street and driven to an abandoned, rat-ridden book depository in the wrecked inner city, where his charge is to explain by candlelight how German critical theory can help fix Detroit. Trevor ingeniously stretches the thin filament of this conceit, and by the end it’s become a surprising and even poignant small-scale novel of ideas featuring two formidable characters: the resurgent Colin and his charismatic abductor, a drug dealer-turned-philosopher named Ty. Well-made, erudite, often witty short stories from an accomplished veteran of the form.”

Kirkus Reviews



“By turns high-spirited and searchingly tender, the nine wonderful stories in The Book of Wonders are generous, perceptive, and hilarious. As big-hearted as they are intelligent, these stories are about seeking connection. Exuberant, insightful, and very, very funny, The Book of Wonders is truly wondrous.”

Kirstin Valdez Quade, Night at the Fiestas



“Douglas Trevor has breathed new life into the short story form in his moving, hilarious, poignant and irreverent new collection, The Book of Wonders. These stories offer shivers, epiphanies, insights, and, truly, wonders. This is a collection you won’t put down once you pick it up, and one you won’t forget.”

Laura Kasischke, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award



The Book of Wonders is lovely, and, yes, wondrous.  With one foot in contemporary life and another in the land of myth and fable, Douglas Trevor is a unique and memorable conjurer.”

Dan Chaon, ILL WILL 



“At the heart of Douglas Trevor’s darkly funny and profoundly resonant collection is a beautiful, abiding admiration for books themselves.  Each story is unique and uniquely stirring, and their combined effect exalts the deep humanity of making sense of the world through language.  The book couldn’t have come at a more important time in our culture, and Trevor’s lucky readers will, like his characters, will take shelter from life’s storms in The Book of Wonders.”


Bret Anthony Johnston, Remember Me Like This