HOME TRUTHS: Sixteen Stories by Mavis Gallant
Kirkus Star

HOME TRUTHS: Sixteen Stories

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Selected Canadian Stories""--most previously published in The New Yorker, most set in Canada and France (circa 1925-45), all displaying Gallant's miraculous cloisonn‚ prose: a rich mingle of affecting insurrections and astringent accommodations, always confined within shrewd, razor-edged scrutinies. Several of these stories touch on the intricacies of an adopted French-Canadian identity: restless and frightened women, from recently immigrated (and ever-demanding) families, compulsively wander through European borders or doggedly explore the past, only to find that ""It wouldn't be better anywhere""; orphaned sisters lose connection after just too many cross-cultural shifts. Elsewhere, the bi-national identity-crisis gives way to, or links up with, other ""calamitous conjunctions,"" other opposing forces within a single person or a single family--the objective mind vs. the ""amoreuse"" impulse to wander, the stoic vs. the ""rawly emotive."" In ""Bonaventure,"" a gifted, wary young musician--product of a ""watchful and stoic"" father, a mother ferocious with need and immediacy--ultimately flees down a Swiss mountain, intent on escaping the bubbling sensual world represented by an Alma Mahler-like widow. The young heroine of ""In the Tunnel"" desperately hobbles away from a middle-aged lover, from a bizarre brace of elderly ‚migr‚s--proud of being ""objective,"" yet forced to flee, feeling ""too young for them all."" The worried child of an English war-bride, mulling over visions of elves and Indians, senses dangers in a train-journey to the Canadian north and an unknown father; a Montreal schoolgirl placidly observes the interlocked miseries of two schoolmates and a scattered adult, fused in a disastrous tea party. And there are six undoubtedly autobiographical ""Linnet Muir"" stories--beginning with an 18-year-old's triumphant return to Montreal, when ""my life was my own revolution."" Irresistible storytelling through and through--bringing the resounding/hollow past to life with grace, humor, richly acute portraiture, and ruthless hindsight.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1985
Publisher: Random House