At first it is surprising. To come across the word ‘defenestration’ in a Mavis Gallant story. Often these are inward-looking stories, detailed and expansive glimpses into the interior lives of quiet – and often solitary – characters. Someone drives too quickly or protests the contents of a sermon, someone
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In chatting about the previous volume, Renny’s Daughter (1951), I mused on the future of Adeline’s romance. Because in the volume before, Return to Jalna (1956) she had committed to remaining unmarried to spend her adult life at her father’s side. (The volumes were written out of story-order. Mazo de
Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall (1947) “It was a mystery story she had got out of the lending library for her father, and she was not fond of mystery stories. Nobody in them ever seems to feel sorry about murders, she had said.” How unfortunate that Lucia is
“Although an epidemic of haunting, widely reported, spread through the Fifteenth District of our city last summer, only three acceptable complaints were lodged with the police.” Having read about half of Mavis Gallant’s short stories now, and never yet having met a ghost, imagine my surprise at finding three
Let’s start with the obvious: it’s not perfect. This whole question of a literary prizelist. A prizelist is going to reflect many different things, from the jurors’ preferences to the prize founders’ or administrators’ networks, from the cultural zeitgeist to the political climate. It is unlikely to reflect any