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 “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 “The Legacy” (1954)

Inheritance: a common literary theme. Here, Mrs. Boldescu has died, leaving behind four grown children and a family grocery shop on St. Eulalie Street in Montreal: “Rumania Fancy Groceries”.

Small shops in 1935, imagine “Rumania Family Groceries” on the signClick for source details

Carol and Georgie are the older brothers, and the youngest boy is Victor, who […]

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Mavis Gallant’s “The Deceptions of Marie-Blanche”

If the story were titled “Les Deceptions de Marie-Blanche”, it might be translated as “The Disappointments of Marie-Blanche”: an apt choice.

San Francisco Earthquake, 1907 – Click for source details

And, yet, as it stands, there is the added implication that Marie-Blanche has not only been disappointed by her love affairs, but that the […]

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Late-Summer Reading: When and Where

For the past couple of weeks, I have been listening to Joseph Boyden’s Through Black Spruce on my daily walks.

I was walking in full summer, listening to descriptions of winter in Moose Factory in Northern Ontario.

The clusters of cloud in the story were from the exhaust of snowmobiles in February; the clusters I was […]

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Sigal Samuel’s The Mystics of Mile End (2015)

There are five windows on the cover of Sigal Samuel’s debut novel; in only one of them does a pair of people appear.

Freehand Books, 2015

In three of the windows there is a solitary silhouette, and in the window at the top, the blind is nearly pulled to the bottom of the sill.

The […]

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Summer Reading To-Do List for Stormy Days (3 of 4)

Such good reading this summer, so far. In other respects, perhaps mine has not been the most productive summer. But it all depends what one puts on a to-do list, doesn’t it! What if your to-do list was all about the books in your stacks?

Cormorant Books, 2015

For coming-of-age devotees: 

Accompany Lawrence Nolan on […]

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TGIF: In the workplace, on the page (1 of 4)

A new Friday fugue, running through this month, considering the ways in which our working lives appear on the pages of novels and short stories.

Some of my favourite novels spend a good amount of time considering the good amount of time that we spend in our workplaces.

Joshua Ferris’ And Then We Came to […]

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Emerging and Established: The Journey Prize Stories 26 and Margaret Atwood

Just as the jury enjoyed reading the stories submitted for tthe 2014 Journey Prize, other readers can also value the “exposure to a new generation of writers who are extending the tradition of Canadian short fiction well into the twenty-first century”.

McClelland & Stewart, 2014.

Edited by Steven W. Beattie, Craig Davidson and Saleema […]

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Mireille Silcoff’s Chez L’Arabe (2014)

Weeks after reading these stories, a glance at the table of contents brings back their characters and arcs in a moment. (With “Flower Watching” and “Eskimos” I also required the aid of the characters’ names I’d noted.)

These stories stood out, not only as independent narratives but, simultaneously, for the connections between them; as with […]

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