Mavis Gallant

I’m reading a book of short stories by Mavis Gallant right now.

Mavis Gallant

The book I have was a remainder, and I probably only bought it because of the Mavis.  But I’m so glad I have it.

Mavis Gallant was born in Montreal and many of her stories are set there.  Others are set in Paris, where she lives now.  In this collection, at least, she’s concerned with the big decisions that young people had to make, mostly in terms of marriage, often without having much real information about them, and the push and pull of families keeping up bourgeois appearances.  Then also, the sort of crumbling apart of life and indignities of older men, and their judgments and befuddlements about children.  She started out as a reporter in 1944, and started writing fiction in 1950.  She lives in Paris and seems to keep pretty private.

Mavis Gallant is now up there for me next to Alice Munro, who was probably my first really major literary discovery.  I started reading Alice Munro in high school and I keep her books with me: they’ve given me a lot and I know they will keep being helpful to me.

I met some elderly ladies last weekend in Montreal at a memorial service, and they told me that they started a book club in 1952 and they have been meeting ever since!  They read 9 books a year!  They were all stylish and intimidating with French names I’ve never heard before.  I could only aspire to this kind of friendship and book discussion, in my dreams.


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