The Trivia Man

The Trivia Man 3

by Deborah O'Brien

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 01/06/2015

5/5 Rating 3 Reviews
RRP  $32.99 $25.78
From the author of Mr Chen's Emporium comes a quirky and heartwarming tale about finding your true place in the world, set against the backdrop of a weekly trivia competition.

'Trivia is a serious business, not a social occasion' Kevin Dwyer, the 'trivia man'

Dubbed 'brainbox' by his peers and 'weirdo' by his sister, Kevin Dwyer is a middle-aged forensic accountant who has never had a real friend, other than his eight-year-old nephew Patrick. When Kevin joins the Clifton Heights Sports Club trivia competition as a one-man team, and convincingly wins the first round, he is headhunted by the other contestants. But Kevin would prefer to be on his own. That is, until he meets Maggie Taylor . . .

Maggie is a Latin teacher and movie buff, who's good at her job but unlucky in love. In fact, she's still besotted with the man who dumped her years ago. Nagged by her friend Carole about getting out and meeting people, Maggie reluctantly joins the trivia team founded by Carole's husband, Edward.

Over a season of trivia nights, Kevin, Maggie and her team will experience arguments and crises, friendships and romances, heartbreaks and new beginnings. And maybe, just maybe, Kevin will find his happy ever after . . .
Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
Transworld Publishers (Division of Random House Australia)
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Customer Reviews

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  • Funny, sweet and moving

    by on

    The Trivia Man is the fourth novel by Australian visual artist, teacher and author, Deborah O’Brien. Ever since he can remember, Kevin Dwyer has liked facts and figures more than people: facts and figures he can master, put into order, record in his notebooks; with people, he always feels like an alien, unable to decipher the nuances of language, gesture, or intonation. He’s perfectly suited to his job as a forensic accountant, and trivia quizzes are his favourite (make that “only”) leisure activity.

    It’s no surprise that Kevin buys a weather station and a log book for his nephew, Patrick’s eighth birthday. After all, this is what brought him hours of enjoyment at that age. Kevin and Patrick share the same love of learning and recording what happens in the world around them. Patrick’s mother, Beth (everyone calls her Elizabeth or Lizzie, but Kevin doesn’t notice that) just thinks her brother’s peculiar.

    Elizabeth is worried that Kevin has an addiction to trivia competitions: three a week is surely not normal, especially as he competes alone. She advises him to join a team, hoping it will force him to interact more with other people. After his One-Man Band team wins Week One of the Clifton Heights Sports Club Autumn/Winter Trivia Competition, several of the other teams try to entice him to join with them, but Kevin is not tempted.

    High school language teacher, Maggie Taylor has only agreed to join Teddy and the Dreamers for Week Two of the competition as a favour to her friend Carole: she can’t imagine she’ll enjoy it, with Carole’s insufferably arrogant husband, Edward as team leader, and intends to bow out at the first opportunity. But it’s not as bad as she’d expected, and chatting with Kevin during the break, she’s fascinated by his job, and manages to recruit him onto the Dreamers team.

    What a wonderful tale O’Brien gives the reader: the plot is entirely believable; the characters feel like those you know from work or school or the pub; their hopes, fears and failures are what concern us all. Readers will be pleased that Maggie finally sees sense, that Patrick finds a friend, that Kevin doesn’t end up throwing something very important away.

    O’Brien explores what it means to be different in a world that doesn’t tolerate non-conformity well. The story is told from four different perspectives, and the “misfits” experience is well portrayed. And the generous dose of trivia included in each chapter is great fun. Funny, sweet and moving, this is a delightful read.

  • Nothing Trivial about this book!

    by on

    Deborah O’Brien has crafted and polished another gem for readers to cherish, impossible to put down and guaranteed to warm your heart and fire synapses in your brain.

    Ever wondered what the collective noun for trivia buffs is? A tragedy? A triumph? A tally? Perhaps all three are apt for the trivia team cast at the core of Deborah O’Brien’s newest release. Strutting their stuff at a local sports club every Tuesday night, they flex their grey matter to participate in a competition presided over by the Professor and Miss Kitty, the faded stars of a long forgotten TV quiz show. Over the 12 weeks of the competition we come to know each of the Trivia Man’s team members, catching glimpses of their inner lives and snapshots of their earlier selves which reveal their hopes and dreams, their disappointments and difficulties.

    Kevin, the eponymous Trivia Man, is a forensic accountant – nothing to do with dead bodies, he assures a flirtatious and fleeting acquaintance. Kevin lives alone, absorbed by his unusual interests and focused on his performance as a one man band in multiple trivia quizzes. He knows that he should be more sociable but his idiosyncrasies are not usually accepted by others, and he is content with his solitary pursuits and well-ordered existence.

    Maggie is a high school teacher of a certain age who has made some interesting life choices. On most nights she is alone at home marking papers or watching movies, wine glass in hand, while Rufus her faithful hound keeps her company. She has purpose and meaning in her life but that doesn’t stop her being wistful about missed opportunities. Maggie’s colleague Carole and her egotistical husband Edward are established trivia buffs who are keen to coax Maggie and her storehouse of movie knowledge to join their team. Mei Zhen and Ash complete the team by adding their own personal and specialist skills but tensions simmer under the surface and sparks may ignite.

    Kevin’s sister Elizabeth has experienced a lifetime of embarrassment and exasperation over her older brother’s odd behaviour and quirky interests. She admonishes him for his trivia quiz and other obsessions and tries to prevent his idiosyncratic behaviour from influencing that of her eight year old son, Patrick. But more than their shared interest in computers and tides, it is their shared genetic inheritance that worries Elizabeth. The bond between Uncle Kevin and nephew Patrick supports them both in different ways- what will be the consequence of Elizabeth’s demand that it be severed?

    The Trivia Man combines humour, pathos, and fascinating trivia with cleverly drawn characters who intrigue and invite the reader to view the world from their perspective. Through flashback and tantalising vignettes the panorama widens in space and time, compelling us to read on. A bonus is the inclusion of the argy- bargy of the trivia quizzes, including questions (and answers! ). Deborah O’Brien has indeed crafted and polished another gem for readers to cherish along with her Jade Widow, Mr Chen’s Emporium and A Place of Her Own.

    Reviewed by Christine McGuigan June 2015

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