Books by Mavis Gallant

Released: Sept. 24, 1996

The Collected Stories Of Mavis Gallant ($45.00; Sept. 24, 1996; 1200 pp.; 0-679-44886-1): A huge and imposingly accomplished collection- -the sort that calls for our immediate reassessment of a writer's career—displaying more than a half-century of work from the Canadian-born Francophile whose wry explorations of alienation and culture conflict typify the kind of sophistication associated with the New Yorker (where virtually all of these 52 tales first appeared). In a superb Preface, Gallant reveals (in comparatively little space) much about her life as a cross-cultural journalist and fiction writer and also speculates fruitfully on the sources of her stories in family relationships and personal experience. The stories, drawn from seven previous volumes, are arranged chronologically, according to the decade (beginning in the 1930s) in which each story is set. The tales include such gems of ironic understatement as ``The Moslem Wife,'' ``In the Tunnel,'' ``Speck's Idea,'' and ``The Pegnitz Junction.'' The volume also contains collections of linked stories about the obviously autobiographical Linnet Muir, whose uneasy, increasingly distant relationship with her youth in Montreal both frustrates and empowers her imagination, and about the French writer Henri Grippes (one of Gallant's happiest and wittiest inventions). A book whose time has come, showcasing the work of a master who should finally be recognized as such. (15,000 first printing) Read full book review >
ACROSS THE BRIDGE by Mavis Gallant
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

Eleven more spare, elegant stories from French-Canadian author Gallant (In Transit, 1989, etc.), ten of which first appeared in The New Yorker. Interconnected vignettes of the family Carette form the first four stories. In ``1933,'' a newly widowed but stalwart Mme. Carette is forced to move with her young daughters Berthe and Marie to a smaller apartment in a seedy street in Montreal. Sixteen years later, in ``The Chosen Husband,'' a still resolute Mme. Carette arranges a marriage for her feeble-witted younger child Marie. By the 60's, in ``From Cloud to Cloud,'' Marie's husband has died and Marie must move in with older sister Berthe; meanwhile, Marie's 18- year-old son Raymond steals the family Volkswagen and flees to the US and Vietnam. ``Florida'' recounts his subsequent spotty career in the motel trade. Other stories are divided between Montreal and Paris, where Gallant has lived since the 1950's. In ``Dede,'' an upper-class Parisian schoolboy is braced by a visit from his black- sheep uncle. In the lengthy title story, a feisty French-Italian girl almost succeeds in overturning her mother's plan that she marry Arnaud Pons, son of Parisian family friends—until she discovers that marrying Arnaud is exactly what will make her happy. In ``Forain'' and the lovely ``A State of Affairs,'' Gallant touchingly follows the now circumscribed lives of a handful of elderly Central European refugees in Paris. And in the final, brilliant ``The Fenton Child,'' she returns to Montreal, where a proper Irish Catholic girl—with a charming ward-heeler for a father—aids in what she comes to realize is an illegal adoption arranged for an ``English'' family in the district. In each of these pieces and others, the details are all: shades of meaning turn on the condition of the furnishings and the color of the light. Another fine collection from Gallant. Read full book review >
IN TRANSIT by Mavis Gallant
Released: April 10, 1989

A master of supple mandarin prose, Gallant (Home Truths, From the Fifteenth District, Overhead in a Balloon) here digs out 20 stories first published in The New Yorker in the 1950's and 1960's—almost all textbook lessons in the art of the well-made short story. In the first section ("Parents and Children"), the most notable include "The Wedding Ring," a vignette about a daughter who both witnesses and imagines the end of her parents' marriage; "The End of the World," in which a son stays with his dying father during his lonely last days; and the delicately rendered "An Emergency Case," about a boy in a hospital who is slowly coming (or refusing to come) to the understanding that his parents have died. The second section ("Youth, Pursuit, and Various Entanglements") offers "When We Were Nearly Young," a portrait of lost youth about four friends in Madrid "all waiting for money"; "Malcolm and Bea" is about a marriage that is "at extremes of tension," in part because the man is British, the woman Canadian; and the title story, set at the Helsinki airport, in which a young French couple, newly married, explore their own ideas about each other as the young Frenchman, who speaks English, listens in on an elderly American couple. The last section ("Relatives, Friends and Adult Confusion") is interesting for "Careless Talk," in which two women in France are drawn together by their language—English; and for "Better Times," where an improvident married couple caretake an aunt's house for a squalid season. Cosmopolitan, lucid in conception, and subtle in execution: occasionally a little too emotionally muted, perhaps, but even so, each story is a brightly textured object of aesthetic pleasure. Read full book review >