The Trick of It A Novel

Michael Frayn




Trade Paperback

176 Pages


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He knows everything about her before they meet: the make of pen she writes with, her exact height, the various honorary degrees she holds. He knows more about her nine novels and 27 short stories than she does herself. Naturally—he has devoted his life to studying and teaching them, and he reveres them. Also, he is four times as clever as she is.

The Trick of It is a comic and painful voyage of exploration into the creative process and the feelings it arouses in others. The humble academic disciple finds himself admitted to his subject's life, and off to this oldest friend go a series of dispatches—by turns awed and patronizing, reverential and jealous, disingenuous and appallingly frank.


Praise for The Trick of It

"Brilliant . . . The Trick of It [is] comic in the obtuse maneuvering of its hero . . . but profound in its grasp of the opposition between the creative spirit and the critical."—John Updike, The New Yorker

"This is a book about who owns the livingness of the living writer; it is funny, moving, intricately constructed and done with an observant wisdom; it also has some of the best jokes . . . a delight."—The Sunday Times (London)

"The pace and edge of this novel are swift and cutting; its theme is philosophical and literary . . . Michael Frayn is a master of what is seriously funny."—The Guardian (London)

"[Frayn] uses a comic technique for themes that are not funny at all. The reader is softened at first by laughter . . . but then a latent gravity becomes patent though the touch remains light."—Anthony Burgess, The Observer (London)

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Michael Frayn

  • Michael Frayn is the author of ten novels, including the bestselling Headlong and Spies. He has also written 13 plays, among them Noises Off and Copenhagen, which won three Tony Awards in 1999. He lives in London.

  • Michael Frayn Eamonn McCabe