What I know now, that I didn’t know when I started to read my final three Gallant works in Montreal Stories is that “Let It Pass”, “In a War”, and “The Concert Party” are a sequence of stories.
When I had a half hour to read on a weekend afternoon, I chose to begin with the second, “In a War”, because it was the right length for that brief interval of time, whereas the first story, “Let It Pass”, is about ten pages longer.
And so I met Steven when he was an older child, and it wasn’t until I started to read “The Concert Party” in another short reading session, and saw that his character was recurring, that I thought to flip back to the first and longer story, and found that he was older still.
That’s when I realized that the stories had been arranged so that readers meet Steven when he is older and then travel back in time. “Let It Pass” appears first in the collection, and even though the narrator’s name is not at all prominent in the story about his youngest years, here his naming is a significant matter.
Looking back, he recalls:
“…I changed my signature from “Steven B. Burnet” to “S. Blake Burnet” and became, I thought, a different person. Old school friends went on saying “Burney,” but new acquaintances took it for granted my name must be Blake. I was just twenty-five, the age when new acquaintances gradually begin to fill one’s life.”