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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Newly Re-Issued Collection of Mavis Gallant Short Stories

I don’t know what it is about Canada but we do produce great short story writers!

A new Mavis Gallant collection is being re-issued today; Everyman’s Library is releasing Mavis Gallant: The Collected Stories  I believe it is a re-issue of The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant (1996).   

I don’t read short stories all the time, but I do like to read one or two between novels, so I love Gallant’s comments about reading shorter fiction:  “Stories are not chapters of novels.  They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along.  Read one.  Shut the book.  Read something else.  Come back later.  Stories can wait.”  (Gallant, Mavis.  The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant.  Toronto:  McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1996, p.xix.)

Because of the re-release of this collection of stories chosen by Gallant herself, The New Yorker featured a great article about Gallant’s writing entitled “Mavis Gallant’s Magic Tricks”:  From this site, you can also hear Margaret Atwood read “Voices Lost in Snow”, a 1976 story which first appeared in that magazine and is included in the book. 

I just re-read one of my favourite Gallant stories, “Irina” written in 1974.  It is a wonderful tale about Irina, a widow.  We are told about her deceased husband who dominated the lives of Irina and their five children.  Then we overhear a very revealing conversation between Irina and a friend, a conversation that suggests how little her children know about her life.  If you’re not familiar, with Gallant’s stories, I’d recommend this story as a great one with which to begin.