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Rod Whitaker's (Trevanian) photo is on this website:

As for the aforementioned short stories, most if not all can be found in Trevanian's anthology of short tales called "Hot Night in the City."

I reckon Whitaker's a vigourous 70 or so years old by now.

>>By Ted Bitz   (Friday, 16 May 2003 11:50)

Everything I've read about Trevanian, make that what little I've read about him and Whitaker, puts his birth around the mid twenties so he could be as young as Ted says or as old as 80. He simply does not want to be in the public eye and has done a bang up job of not being found.
I can only hope his will allows his family, editors, publishers or whomever he deems worthy to let us all know his real identity.
I read part of an interview (posted on the web so I put a generous amount of salt on it before swallowing) he said it was of course a decision he made early on and accepted the fact that he could have earned much more money on the book circuit at signings etc. However if he had gone that way I don't think his writings would have the same effect on us, being paraded around like a dancing bear simply wouldn't suit Nikko.
In the same interview (if I can find the website again I will give the address) he alluded to a possibility that he has written under other names as well. In answer to the query "How do you write a book?" he replied "First I find the "chi" or voice for the book then he chose a writer that most suited that voice. (I am paraphrasing poorly and I apologize)
The lack of a visage heightens the connection we feel with him. We can put any face on him we want. It is no big secret what Clancy or King looks like but with Trevanian he looks like whatever charater you most identify with.
I know my words are muddled and no doubt some first year psych student could better state what I am trying to say but I hope you get the "chi" of my thoughts.

>>By echo   (Friday, 16 May 2003 14:38)

I think it wasn't "chi."

Whitaker described the literary voce as the japanese term "Aji" -- a "terminal ambience" as he put it.

Ted Bitz

>>By Ted Bitz   (Monday, 19 May 2003 10:47)

I beleive you're right Ted. I stand corrected.

>>By echo   (Wednesday, 21 May 2003 14:01)

I finished Tales Rude and Glorious on the weekend. By the four balls of Jesus, Mary and Joseph absolutely the funniest book I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The innuendo is simply sublime.

>>By echo   (Wednesday, 21 May 2003 21:27)

echo your very lucky for having that book. Ive been looking for that book and i think i have to wait maybe 5 long years before it will finally be available here in my city.
i just watched eiger sanction in cinemax and its quite good but people who did not read the book i think did not understand the ending of the story. they saw the killing as an accident they have no idea that it was the work of hemlock... im not saying all but most of the people i know who watched it thinks that way thats why they dont appreciate the movie.

>>By bjorn   (Monday, 26 May 2003 07:08)

maybe not bjorn

I don't know where you live but is a great place to get out of print books.

>>By echo   (Monday, 26 May 2003 19:27)

If you would like to see photos of the town settings in The Summer of Katya, pictures may be found on:

Take note, what is Salies les Bains, in the novel, is in reality, Salies de Bearn. While the village of Alos where the Fete of the Drowned Virgin occurred (and is Jean Marc Montjean's natal village) is the town of Sauveterre-de-bearn. The bridge exists to this day.


>>By Bearnaise Villages   (Wednesday, 28 May 2003 16:06)

tp jj
where can one read the interview you've mentioned?
thanx a lot

>>By izaack   (Saturday, 21 Jun 2003 21:35)


Prior to the release of Incident at Twenty Mile, Whitaker gave a lengthy and deliciously cocky email interview to Publisher's Weekly. Sadly, Publisher's Weekly has since removed that piece from their website. It's rather unfortunate as it was the most succulent of the scant morsels we have pertaining to writer himself.

Perhaps you can email Publisher's Weekly and ask them to reprint it again.


>>By jj   (Sunday, 22 Jun 2003 13:54)

any fresh news about Trevanian? upgrade our brain pls.

>>By bjorn   (Saturday, 28 Jun 2003 12:13)


Try out a site Trevanian has endorsed. It's run by a remarkably intelligent fellow named Ank.

The site is

Trevanian has written an endorsement on that same site.

>>By Ted Bitz   (Monday, 30 Jun 2003 03:50)

ted bitz,

I visited that site already, they talk weird things...its some kind of future telling or something like that. i think trevanian said its accurate cause he tried it.

>>By bjorn   (Monday, 30 Jun 2003 04:52)
at the end of the page there is the link to the Publisher's Weekly Interview

>>By bruno   (Wednesday, 2 Jul 2003 15:40)

Cheers Bruno,

That's the mother lode. Trevanian's extensive e-mail interview on Publisher's Weekly:

An absolute gem.

>>By Ted Bitz   (Thursday, 3 Jul 2003 04:08)

in an interview trevanian mentioned a centralized "web site" proposed by a group of Trevanian-buffs. does it exist? is it already online? it would be great if we can chat with trevanian.

>>By bjorn   (Monday, 7 Jul 2003 07:26)

I do not think it exists. And I doubt Trevanian would have really fancied engaging in that endeavour. That said, I'm not too fussed about chit-chatting with him. I'd rather that he publish relentlessly so that we can spend more time discussing his writings instead of him -- lovely sharp as a brick chap as I assume him to be.

His novels are always long in the coming.

>>By TB   (Tuesday, 22 Jul 2003 04:41)

wonderfull, it has been a delight reading Trevanian and thanks for the revelation of his identity we can read beond trevanian as we know him in to his other works.

I was a todler when Trevanin wrote Sibumi and quarter of a century later he still amazes me this his other works.

One more question, Is there any opportunity in the future see him , give lectures or whatever , If any body knows.


>>By Isagani   (Saturday, 9 Aug 2003 05:07)

onething that makes trevanian great is that he is invinsible. he doesnt want to be a celebrity...and thats great. he wants his readers to wonder who the hell is trevanian. me too i want to see photos of him or even ask some questions but its better that he is a mystery.


>>By bjorn   (Wednesday, 13 Aug 2003 07:59)

Hello All,
There is a passage in the book when Nicholai is in jail and departs in his mind, remembering cave bashing with his friends,

"Clever, these Occidentals, at orienting themselves."
And another, a wry boy with a monkey face who was the clown of the group, said that it was not a bit odd that Nicholai should be able to see in the dark. He was, after all, a man of twilight!"
The tone of this statement signaled that it was meant to be a joke, but there was silence around the campfire for some seconds, as they tried to unravelthe tortuous and oblique pun...*

*The pun was almost Shakespearean in its sophmoric obliquity. It was formed on the fact that Japanese friends called Nicholai "Nikko" to avoid the awkward l. And the most convenient Japanese pronunciation of Hel is heru.

My question is, was he equating Hel with the darkness of hell 'man of twilight' or was Trevanian taking a shot at Shakespeare, calling his work sophmorically oblique? Or was Nicholai's friend alluding to his multi-ethnicity and by befriending Japanese he was being enlightened?

>>By nikko heru   (Tuesday, 9 Sep 2003 01:04)

Re the exchange between Ted Blitz and echo: I can't remember if Trevanian ever used the word "chi"; as to "aji"; it is on Nikko's visit to the prison to liberate Gen. Kishikawa from his indignity that he says to the General "The fragrance has gone bad. 'Aji ga warui'." If Trevanian used "terminal ambiance" to define "aji", it was in a place other than "Shibumi." The use of the word 'fragrance' is another example of Trevanian's mastery of the English language. Who among us has not experienced, say, the moment when a rose decays from sweet to off? Trevanian's countless uses of the 'perfect word' is just one of the many reasons I've countlessly reread "Shibumi" and the gritty and sad "The Main." I hope Trevanian lives to 110, or whatever it takes to give us everything he's got.

>>By cloudforest   (Tuesday, 16 Sep 2003 06:19)

I had the pleasure of Rod Whitaker's company over the course of an undergraduate college semester in 1977. It was an advanced seminar titled Media Criticism. At the time he was writing (or finishing) Shibumi, though we didn't know it until later. He would never admit that he wrote "commercial" fiction, under any name, even though we had pretty much figured it out early on. The academic dean had clued me in on this newcomer to campus and suggested I take the course. "He is an interesting man" is all the dean would say. Whitaker had apparently offered to teach a course or two in exchange for office space and use of the university facilities. He had very impressive academic credentials. If I didn't believe then that this man was Trevanian, I did later. Shibumi came out around 1979 and when I read it I couldn't believe how many things in the book were things I'd heard before! I pulled out my notes from class and there they were--stories, words, phrases, characters, all of which appeared in the book. Indeed I found a whole page of notes on the concept of "shibumi," a word I'd never heard of before then. I can say that the "real" Trevanian is indeed as learned, erudite, funny, and in some ways as odd as you might think by reading his fiction. In class, his wit was so fast that he was often delivering his second or third punch line as you were still appreciating the first. But he could also be very challenging as a teacher, operating on an intellectual plane that was far more sophisticated than most any other professor I'd ever encountered. He would invite the class to his home once or twice a month to have extended discussions on varied topics (he would also give an occasional guest lecture to the university community or to the public on certain academic subjects--insofar as you dealt with him as Rod Whitaker and not someone else, he was very gracious). Wine and cheese would be served in the parlor of his impressive Georgian-style home (his wife is a first-rate artist) and we would sit mesmerized by Whitaker's tales, "rude and glorious." Although it was clear that he had could present an incalculably cold front if he wanted, to me and all the students in that class he was an extraordinarily patient, supportive, and gracious teacher. And I don't think I've ever met anyone with more charisma. I'd say, though, don't get too hung up on uncovering details of this guy. He is very, very private (though curiously I see that his daughter is publishing some works now under her own name) and has long since moved permanently to France. He is a literary craftsman of the first order. And he is, among many other things, a trained actor. He loves to create characters and loves to deal in the realms of facade and ruse and misdirection. He works very hard to "create" the ambiances that one feels in his fiction. But if you really want to get a peek into what makes Rod Whitaker tick, read the short story Mrs. McGivney's Nickel, published in Hot Night In The City. It hits real close to home.

>>By Ashford   (Thursday, 2 Oct 2003 22:57)

S.O.S. Have carted around the world my moth-eaten, disintegrating copy of Shibumi since 1980 and now come to read it again and find it finishes on page 350! How many pages am I missing from the paperback?? Can any one out there help me before I rush to Amazon and get a brand new copy?

I haven't read it for 10 years and as is my wont, I conveniently forget the endings of what I call good books.

Thank you one and all Shibumi aficionados.

>>By chicdiz   (Sunday, 5 Oct 2003 23:03)

for CloudForest:

Trevanian mentions the Japanese-term "Aji" in a lengthy Publisher's Weekly interview. The belowmentioned website provides a link to the said interview.

It's a fabulous read.

>>By JJ-JJ   (Tuesday, 7 Oct 2003 05:43)

I first started reading Trevanian after seeing the movie and as I recall my Dad had the book. I was instantly taken in by the wit and style of Johnathan. Being an avid reader even then, I read everything I could get my hands on. As others in this post, I was touched and transformed by Shibumi, read first when I was 20 and I think I've worn out three copies since then. I'm 44 now and each time I read it, it becomes clearer and more in focus. I used to chant the word "Shibumi" like a mantra to calm myself and focus in tense situations. IT works! Interesting how I'm not the only one that identifies with his characters as I seen others here confess. I suppose bookish people are a different ilk. After "Summer Of Katya" he took such a long hiatus I honestly thought he must have died. Then when "Twenty Mile" was released I thought, cynically, "Money must have ran out". How old is he? I worry I won't see many more books if he takes as long between novels as he did after Katya!

He certainly has a fascination with the Basque, I wonder what he would say about Hungarians(like me) as we are similarly unique in our roots and steadfast in our ways. By the perfidious balls of St. Peter I guess I'll never know.

>>By Mikelona   (Sunday, 26 Oct 2003 12:16)

The details are a little fuzzy now.

I was not one for visiting faculty offices. Pretty shy mostly. The chair of the radio-tv-film grad department told me I had to visit the film guy, Whitaker.

Enrollment had exploded and the campus bloated into surrounding neighborhoods. Offices in academic buildings were taken so Whitaker's was in a perfunctorily-converted apartment complex. The Texas sun was blinding. His door was red perhaps, and I punched the spring-tone. He called to enter.

Inside it was dark. I smelled incense. My eyes adjusted. He was sitting on a pillow at a low lacquer table. He may have even worn a kimono, but I can't recall. He served me green tea from a cast iron teapot. Japanese string music played from the stereo. For a college professor, this is more like, it I thought.

He was wiry and tan. Forty, or a little more. Generally bathed in cigarette smoke. He was a talented smoker, like Bogart or Belmondo. A bit affected and full of himself, but as I got to know him, that was forgiveable, since he was the most interesting guy on campus. Girls in his classes were openly after him, but as far as I knew he was loyal to his wife. He lived with her in an eccentric early 20th century house with a huge vaulted tudorish living room. Where, how, did he find this piece of magic in Austin?

We talked at length on a number of occasions. Once, overhearing that it was my birthday, invited me and a couple of others for a beer. That was at noon, the other students fell away as we crawled from bar to bar across East Austin (the black neighborhood) where they all knew him and I got home about dawn. We talked, spinning from history to imagination, about everything, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Tennessee Williams, Josephine Baker, and religeous doctrine and acting techniques and how he had grown up in Canada, and joined the circus and fled across the world, living crystal moments, climbing mountains, riding motorcylces in the surf at dawn. Making life-changing decisions easily. And now he said he was bored with teaching. He wanted to have money and live in the south of France. How? He said the whole spy novel thing was such a phenomenon. James Bond, leCarré. I could do that, he said, and he talked about his protagonist ideas.

They yanked my grad school deferment right after that, Tet offensive replacements were needed, but the Army flunked me because of my hearing loss. I never saw Whitaker again. I discovered his books. I thought of him at the grave of Edith Piaf. Now that I stay in Provence some summers, I wonder if he lives around there. I miss talking to him.

>>By Tx68   (Saturday, 13 Dec 2003 04:05)

I am most curious about a quote in The Eiger Sanction: "Niceness is an overrated quality..." which is ascribed to James McNeil Whistler. I have researched this in libraries and surfed the net for many a year to no avail. Did Whistler really say this?
Thanks and Cheers

>>By smlaz   (Tuesday, 6 Jan 2004 17:16)

any new stuff from Sir Trevanian?

>>By bjorn   (Saturday, 7 Feb 2004 10:15)

I have, in my possession a first edition of 1339...Or so; Being an Apology to a Peddlar (Trevanian would probably scorn me for the price paid but such as the case is with out of print books). I could not even make it through the introduction without logging on. An exerpt follows;

"Prose storytellers were held in scorn, being for the most part minstrels, vagabonds or peddlars who begged with a song their crusts, and who were notorious for relieving their hosts of odd bits of silver plate and the younger ladies of their hymens."

The mastery of the language is as though Seare; or whomever, is a conductor leading a great orchestra. With a flick of the wrist, as the measure ends he sprinkles bawdy humour on the notes lightening the weight of the ensemble.

>>By echosounder   (Wednesday, 10 Mar 2004 22:06)

For Trevanian junkies:
There is a new Trevanian short story out titled "Waking To The Spirit Clock." It was published by The Antioch Review last summer (2003). Written in a woman's voice. Enjoy.
Still waiting for "Street of the Four Winds." Wonder if/when it will ever be published.

>>By Ashford   (Monday, 29 Mar 2004 20:03)

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