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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Mavis Gallant’s “About Geneva”

Even the shortest story in The Other Paris provokes a strong sympathy on the part of readers.

Bill Perlmutter: “Through A Soldier’s Lens. Europe In The Fifties”.Click for source details

At the heart of the story are two young children, Ursula who is older than seven and Colin who is younger than seven.

They live […]

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 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 […]

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.

Mavis Gallant’s “Autumn Day” (1955)

I laid in with this story, while on a brief holiday in a small town outside Toronto. Outside, the sound of other people’s everyday morning scurried past, but I was not required to be anywhere in particular that day.

Salzburg Austria, Prison overlooking town [Piotr Bozyk, Click for credit]

This open-ended kind of feeling suited […]

Quarterly Stories: Three Collections

In Susan Hill’s Howard’s End Is on the Landing, she quotes a friend who says “We read Margaret Drabble to feel the zeitgeist, our daughters read Helen Simpson.”

(Their daughters’ daughters might be reading Janine Alyson Young or Alex Leslie or Rivka Galchen or Eufemia Fantetti.)

In the first story in Hey Yeah Right Get […]

Quarterly Stories: Winter 2016

This month, I’m wholly enjoying the stories in the Short Story Advent Calendar (edited by Michael Hingston and designed by Natalie Olsen). The variety of the boxed set is fantastic, especially if you’re looking for “new” short story writers to follow, but I generally read collections of works by a single author.

So many of the […]

Quarterly Stories: Autumn 2016

Only ten this year, so far. Without my Alice Munro project to steer me, I am not reading as many short story collections now.

Over the summer, I read Cherie Dimaline’s A Gentle Habit (2015) as part of All Lit Up’s summer bookclub. Dimaline is a member of the Georgian Bay Métis community and her […]