The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant
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"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" - Mavis Gallant. In 1950, "The New Yorker" accepted one of Mavis Gallant's short stories for publication and she has since become the one of the most accomplished and respected short story writers of her time. Gallant is an undisputed master whose peerless prose captures the range of human experience in her sweeping portraits set in Europe in the second half of the last century. An expatriate herself, her stories deal with exile, displacement, of love and of estranged emotions, but they are never conventional. This collection of fifty-two stories, written between 1953 and 1995, is timeless, to be savoured and re-read.
Switzerland—somewhere rainy and cold. They are back now, in time for the winter rain. All at once Walter’s garden seems handsome, with the great fig tree over the terrace, and the Judas tree waiting for its late-winter flowering. After Christmas the iris will bloom, and Walter will show his tottering visitors around. “I put in the iris,” he explains, “but, of course, Miss Cooper shall have them when I go.” This sounds as though he means to die on the stroke of sixty, leaving the iris as a
family of refugees, and Julius did not want her to waste her mental energies talking about the tides of history. I can truthfully say that Julius has never discussed historical change. Do leaves speak? Are mountains asked to have an opinion? Bibi still resisted, saying there was no such thing as a flat in Cologne; but Julius found one. He personally moved her to her new quarters—one room, gas ring, and sink. Just about what she was leaving, except that now she lived alone. I don’t know how the
so. Sarah had told them no one ever came here, but they were forced to park behind a car with Swiss license plates. Next to the gate sat a large party of picnickers squeezed round a card table. There was only one man among them, and Sarah thought it must be a harem and the man had been allowed several wives for having been reasonable and Swiss until he was fifty. She started to tell this to Roy, but he had gone blank as a monument; she felt overtaken by her father’s humor, not her own. Roy gave
of Rome was really an attack on French institutions. Gabriel doubted this. Looking for news about his pension, he learned about the Western European consumer society and the moral wounds that were being inflicted on France through full employment. Between jobs, he read articles about people who said they had been made unhappy by paper napkins and washing machines. Most of the customers in La Méduse were waiting for a television call. The rest were refugees, poets’ widows, and foreign students
was sure of. She had taken its color. The sea was greener than anything except Mrs. Unwin’s emerald, bluer than her sapphire, more transparent than blue, white, transparent glass. Wading with a twin at each hand, she saw their six feet underwater like sea creatures. The sun became as white as a stone; something stung in its heat, like fine, hard, invisible rain. War was somewhere, but not in Italy. Besides, something much more important than a war had taken place. It was this: A new English