RIP Mavis Gallant, 1922-2014
The Globe and Mail has reported the death of Mavis Gallant, the Canadian writer who lived much of her life in Paris, writing sharp, observant short stories.
I had never read Gallant until last year, when The New Yorker fiction podcast introduced me to her work via Margaret Atwood, who read Gallant’s story “Voices in the Snow” for the series. Years earlier, Antonya Nelson read Gallant’s story “When We Were Nearly Young” for the same series.
Gallant published many, many stories for The New Yorker (which may consider unlocking some of them, yes?), including “Florida,” which you can read here.
With few exceptions, books of short stories seldom sell well. Short-story readers are a special kind of reader, like readers of poetry. Many novel readers don’t like collections of stories—I think that they dislike the frequent change of time, place and people. Of course, stories should not be read one after the other. A book of stories is not a novel. Someone once said to me, “Katherine Mansfield died before she was ready to write a novel. Perhaps she would never have been ready.” I thought that was just stupid.