Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Mavis Gallant’s “Its Image in the Mirror”

At nearly one hundred pages long, it’s unsurprising that this is the most complex of Mavis Gallant’s stories I’ve read this year. It’s neither the length nor the breadth of the story which complicates it, but the intricate arrangement of details, as readers are gradually immersed in the narration of Jean Price.

She is not […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “The Moabitess”

Miss Horeham seems to have walked straight out of a Barbara Pym novel: an older woman with standards which are disappointed with some regularity.

She has lived in this pension for long enough to see families come and go, long enough to recognise the rhythms of the seasons there, and to feel justified in complaining when […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “Bernadette”

Alice Munro’s hired girls like to read too.In “Sunday Afternoon”, Alva asks Mr. Gannett if she could borrow “King Lear” and, also, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black.

Mr. Gannett agrees to share his books with Alva, just as Mr. Montjoy gifts the young Alice with his copy of Seven Gothic Tales at the end of the summer in “Hired Girl”, […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “Acceptance of Their Ways”

As is fitting for the opening story of Mavis Gallant’s second published collection, My Heart is Broken, many themes feel familiar.

The question of what constitutes a “good” woman, particularly when she is not a wife.

The dilemma of trying to live an interesting life while maintaining a sheen of “goodness”.

What bonds can be […]

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Alice Munro: 1974’s Something I’ve… (IV)

Alice Munro’s  Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (II) Toronto: Penguin, 1974.

At some point I started to wonder if I couldn’t simply fit my response to all of these stories into a single post.

I mean…long and complicated books like Nicole Krauss’ Great House? Classics like Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure? Still squeezed my […]

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Alice Munro: 1974’s Something I’ve… (III)

Alice Munro’s  Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (II) Toronto: Penguin, 1974.

In “Marrakesh”, Dorothy wonders: “What is there here that is not being told?”

She sets herself to figuring it out. “She had had a great deal of experience listening to the voices of children who were leaving things out.”

But the thing is, […]

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Alice Munro: 1974’s Something I’ve… (II)

Alice Munro’s Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (II) Toronto: Penguin, 1974.

I find something irresistible about a story titled “How I Met My Husband”. Not very feminist-y of me. I hope I don’t lose my secret-decoder ring for saying so.And, anyway, it’s not as though traditional readers would find this story of […]

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“Fragile, terrifying, and true”: Alice Munro

Alice Munro’s Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (I) Toronto: Penguin, 1974. When I spotted the April issue of “Quill & Quire”, I was pleased to see that it included Alexander MacLeod chatting about an Alice Munro short story; I’ve been reading and re-reading Alice Munro’s stories this year and am always pleased to […]

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Felice Holman's Slake's Limbo (1974)

Felice Holman’s Slake’s Limbo (1974) Aladdin Books, 1986

The idea of people living underground (you know, some call them “mole people”, those making homes and living out their lives in storm drains and subway networks, underground sections of major cities) has fascinated me since I first heard of the idea in my early 20s. (Actually, […]

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Reading Relationally

Judy Blume’s Blubber (1974) Jean Little’s One to Grow On (1969) Sheila Greenwald’s It All Began with Jane Eyre (1980) Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy (1964)

Previous shelf-discovery posts I’ve made have focussed on historical fiction (here, here and here) and post-apocalyptic fiction, mysteries (here) and fantasies, but the majority of my childhood reading was rooted in […]

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