Mavis Gallant was our Short Story Book Club read for February. I chose Mavis after hearing Antonya Nelson read and discuss her story ‘When We Were Nearly Young‘ as a New Yorker fiction podcast.
I was tramping up Chinnor Hill somewhere between Bledlow and Radnage, huffing, no doubt puffing, and this story was keeping me company. It remained with me for months after this walk, hauntingly so.
Subsequently I thought a month of Mavis might be worth the effort and suggested we read her Selected Stories for our Short Story Book Club meet-up. It looked like a slim enough volume on Amazon. Little did I realise that the flatness of the screen belied the 912 pages lying behind the cover.
Mavis is good in small doses. A sentence or two can keep your nourished for weeks. Nine-hundred and twelve pages of Mavis Gallant however feels like a form of literary gavage.
I was just about to give up on her when Rosalind Harvey suggesting reading ‘Voices Lost in Snow’. And so we did, which was just the ticket as I’m now back to tooting that Mavis Gallant vuvuzela.