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 “Señor Pinedo”

Set in a Madrid pension, after the Spanish Civil War, “Señor Pinedo” has an ensemble cast. But, like many of the other tales in this colleciton, the story is told in the first person, from the perspective of a young woman who shares a wall with the Pinedo family.

Imagining the pension (Madrid)

They live […]

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Re-reading Emily: L.M. Montgomery, Again

Exploring a coffee shop near Riverdale Park last week, I started a conversation with a young woman reading at the communal table in the back, while I waited for Mr. BIP who was waiting for the coffees (he was enjoying the view across the park and greeting the four-legged companions waiting near the door).

Not […]

Margaret Millar’s A Stranger in My Grave (1960)

Here, the figurative language of Millar’s 1950s novels (like Vanish in an Instant and  Wives and Lovers) is replaced by a cleaner style which often focuses on extremes.

“But Fielding’s pity, like his love and even his hate, was a variable thing, subject to changes in the weather, melting in the summer, freezing in the […]

Mavis Gallant’s “One Morning in June” (1952)

In another collection, this story is called “One Morning in May”, and I wonder if anyone thought about renaming it “The Other Menton”. For as surely as the title story takes a young woman’s expectations of Paris and examines how they conflict with her real experience of the city, this story bursts the balloon of […]

Louis Riel: On the Page, On the Stage

The Canadian Opera Company is now presenting a new 50th-anniversary production of “Louis Riel”, originally written for the celebration of the Canadian centenary in 1967, with an attempt to shift that oh-so-colonial gaze, now including indigenous artists and languages with more nuanced representations of the historical figures.

These are powerfully important figures, and seeing their stories […]

Mavis Gallant’s “Wing’s Chips” (1954)

This feels like a quintessential Mavis Gallant story: expectations and disappointments swirling around a young girl’s form, as she begins to assemble a set of truths about the world.

The town in “Wing’s Chips” would never make it onto a postcard of Valley-living(Click for source details)

Although the setting appears to be so familiar as to […]

Mavis Gallant’s “The Picnic” (1952)

The weight of the brooch pulls the fabric of young Margaret Marshall’s picnic frock. It always hangs just fine off her navy blue shorts, but the light-weight dress doesn’t provide a suitable backdrop.

How disappointing for young Margaret, who so treasures this gift from Madame Pégorin, the photo of the woman’s beloved poodle encircled by seed […]

Mavis Gallant’s “Going Ashore” (1954)

For the first time, twelve-year-old Emma Ellinger feels truly connected to her mother. They are finally “doing something together, alone, with no man, no Uncle Anyone, to interfere”.

Tangier, Moracco 1887 Click for source data

It’s true that the cruise hasn’t gone entirely as planned; they have packed the wrong clothes (all summer dresses, […]

Mavis Gallant’s “Poor Franzi”

At one table, we have the Wrights, on the crowded hotel terrace, with the Austrian mountains playing picture-postcard for the family, who has journeyed from Baltimore.

They’re a cranky lot, with daughters Coralie and Joan having had a different set of expectations for their travels, which neither their mother nor their brother Charlie shared.

Margaret Millar’s The Listening Walls (1959; 2016)

Although some of the characters in the Margaret Millar mysteries I have read answer their own phones, many answer other people’s phones instead: the telephones of older or more privileged relatives or those of their bosses. There’s even a switchboard operator in the mix, along with a woman better known for not answering calls at […]