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4.8 out of 5 stars

TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 September 2011
A wonderful big collection of stories by a rather underestimated writer. Gallant has lived in Europe for much of her life, and these stories have a decidedly 'Continental' style, as well as being set for the most part in Europe (I found the Canadian stories were the ones I enjoyed least on a first read, but intend to give them another try). Gallant is a wonderfully clear-sighted recorder of life among the European bohemians and middle-classes. I particularly enjoyed 'Across the Bridge' (the story of a sweet but naive young Parisian girl trying to find true love), 'The Pegnitz Junction' (a journey across Germany made by a dreamy young student called Christine, her lover and her lover's little son), 'Baum, Gabriel' (about a jobbing German actor living in Paris, whose career reaches his nadir when he has to play a Nazi officer in a war film), 'Irina' (about a writer's widow and her small grandson) and 'Potter' (about a Polish academic visiting Paris and his unlikely love affair with an American student). There are lots of other excellent stories; Gallant writes particularly well about Paris in the second half of the 20th century and about Germany after World War II. They are not stories that you come away with (on the whole) with a warm glow - Gallant's tone is unsentimental and slightly ironic rather than romantic. And yet, she creates some very vivid and often likeable characters, and the stories will almost certainly leave you with a greater interest in the world than before you read them. A tip - read these stories interspersed with other fiction rather than trying the whole book in one go - as Gallant says, her stories are best treated as individual works of fiction, rather than as a collection.

Much recommended.
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on 27 June 2010
These are marvellous, first-rate short stories, and they make me think very much of Katherine Mansfield's work, no higher praise. Gallant was born in Canada and settled in Paris,a similar trajectory to that of Mansfield, who was a New Zealander who came to Europe around the time of World War 1. But the war that changed everything for Gallant was World War 2, and her best stories are at the very least haunted by it, the way it destroyed homelands and identities. Hard to pick out favourites, but 'The Pegnitz Junction' is a knockout, featuring a central German character, Christine, who during a post-war train journey with her boyfriend and his son (no such thing as a 'normal' family unit after the war),'hears' the thoughts of people she sees on the way, illuminating the displacement suffered by all, regardless of nationality
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on 30 March 2017
she's a genius. Nothing's wasted. Patient, mature storytelling.
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on 28 August 2012
The New Yorker had exerpts from Mavis Gallant's Paris diaries in an issue I read recently. She wrote about selling her clothes and almost everything she had so that she could buy food and pay her rent while waiting and hoping to sell some of her stories. She waited for a cheque to arrive. She was starving and wrote about being woozy with hunger but she would not give up. Two stories sold to The New Yorker and her career as a writer was launched. This is but one of her many collections of brilliant short stories. They are not so much stories as a series of snapshots and descriptions of a character. The preface, explaining how she came to write the stories, is absolutely facinating.
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on 1 July 2015
all good
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