Read The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories. Mavis Gallant by Mavis Gallant Free Online
Book Title: The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories. Mavis Gallant|
The author of the book: Mavis Gallant
ISBN 13: 9781408808498
Edition: Bloomsbury UK
Date of issue: November 1st 2010
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 19.66 MB
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Reader ratings: 3.5
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This is the great Canadian short story writer who did not stay in Canada, literally or, well, literally. Let's not compare her to or with Alice Munro. Which is not to say Gallant is lesser. It's just that there is more of an edge to her work often indistinguishable from the stories of Elizabeth Taylor or Joy Williams. What happiness exists in these dissonant pieces is in a character's acceptance of disjointedness.
As might be expected from an expatriate, the stories here are populated by geographical wanderers and the psychologically unmoored. The narrator of the title story, The Cost of Living, tells us:
It happened that at the late age of twenty-seven I had run away from home. High time, you might say; but rebels can't always be choosers. At first I gave lessons so as to get by, and then I did it for a living, which is not the same thing.
The story, though, is about her sister who follows only when it is safe to do so, when the parents have died, and the significant estate is in order. She keeps an account book which is more like a diary, balancing those costs which are necessary with those that are unnecessary. As a friendship and an inchoate love prove to be not what she imagined, purchases move from one side of the ledger to the other.
Perhaps because I read it first, out of order like I do, Thieves and Rascals was my favorite. Subtle, minimalist maybe, a man needs to talk to his wife about their daughter, about why she is being expelled from a select school. The wife's measured response is wonderfully crafted. Thieves and rascals, that is what men are. Except me, says the husband. Except me. Except me. Except me.
If you read this you will meet characters like this teenage girl in One Morning in May:
"I was only five when he went away, so I don't remember much. He was killed later, when I was seven. It was right before my birthday, so I couldn't have a party." She presented, like griefs of equal value.
The Rejection is a story of a father talking to his six and one-half year-old daughter. Gallant tells us that. The only thing I'm sure of is that it is not a story of a father talking to his six and one-half year-old daughter.
Rose is another story which did not bother to leave me with a plot. Yet, long after I forget the other storylines, I will remember the cadence, a kind of haiku, or maybe a jazz poem. Like this:
Childhood recollection is often hallucination; who is to blame?
Christmas is a special season for us. We are atheists.
The overshoes are the first excitement; who is there?
The Burgundy Weekend was the longest, and last in the collection. I read it last, so I'm not completely disorderly. Gallant uses her literary talents of misdirection, showing not telling; sleight of hand. What is here? Memory. Class. Countries. The War. Human relationships, circling like planets just out of reach.
The running girl did not see anything, certainly not Lucie. She made for Jérôme; stopped; remembered her manners. It was Lucie who received her French coldness, her French handshake (a new-born white mouse was what it felt like).
Every marriage is different, she said, and ours is like this. It can't be helped. I don't know of any that can be called better--only different.
Late in the night she woke. He was smoking, walking around the room. She thought of the white organdy curtains and of the lighter, but she was not awake enough to speak, only to hear her own mind saying, No, no, he never does the worst thing.
I'll have some more Gallant, please.
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Read information about the authorCanadian journalist and fiction writer. In her twenties, Gallant worked as a reporter for the Montreal Standard. She left journalism in 1950 to pursue fiction writing. To that end, always needing autonomy and privacy, she moved to France.
In 1981, Gallant was honoured by her native country and made an Officer of the Order of Canada for her contribution to literature. That same year she also received the Governor General's Award for literature for her collection of stories, Home Truths. In 1983-84, she returned to Canada as the University of Toronto's writer-in-residence. In 1991 Queen’s University awarded her an honorary LL.D. In 1993 she was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada.
In 1989, Gallant was made a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2000, she won the Matt Cohen Prize, and in 2002 the Rea Award for the Short Story. The O. Henry Prize Stories of 2003 was dedicated to her. In 2004, Gallant was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship.
With Alice Munro, Gallant was one of a few Canadian authors whose works regularly appeared in The New Yorker. Many of Gallant’s stories had debuted in the magazine before subsequently being published in a collection.
Although she maintained her Canadian citizenship, Gallant continued to live in Paris, France since the 1950s.
On November 8, 2006, Mavis Gallant received the Prix Athanase-David from the government of her native province of Quebec. She was the first author writing in English to receive this award in its 38 years of existence.