Across the Bridge

Mavis Gallant

the april 2003 issue of Harper’s had a review of the two new collections of Gallan’s stories—being published by The New York Review of Books (one of which has just been released) — and called her an “unknown master.” at first i felt like reading the review had pushed my expectations too high; while the first three stories were interesting, all centering around the same family in montreal with some interesting language dynamics, they weren’t as altogether astounding as i’d assumed they would be. then in the middle a couple of the stories were just amazing and i understood where the reviewer was coming from.

at times Gallant’s style reminds me a little of Alice Munro, a similar sort of subtlety with momentous insights. sometimes she seems really cold, there are these unexpected distances between writer-character-reader. it’s strange feeling like reading these stories tells nothing about who wrote them. but eventually it makes it all seem more real somehow.

my reading of “Mlle. Dias de Corta” was unfortunately marred by a previous library borrower’s pencil markings — forcing certain lines to stand out and a seemingly unnecessary margin note of “list lots of info quickly.” the presence of this book in the lunchroom inspired one of the more heated lunchtime arguments lately; somehow “ah, a library book” made the jump to “let’s debate world politics with a special focus on nuclear weapons” in just a few short moves.