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Paris Stories (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – October 31, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


“Often, her fiction drew its energy from contradictory qualities: her stories were minutely observed but also suspenseful, matter-of-fact but also fanciful, reportorial but also imaginative. They were broad-minded, and so felt real…it feels as concrete as anything you might read in the newspaper or see with your own eyes. Gallant had a rare gift: a solid imagination.” —The New Yorker


"Ms. Hellier [owner of the English language Village Voice bookstore on Paris's Left Bank] said if she were to recommend one work of fiction set in Paris, it would be Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant, a collection of short stories by the Canadian-born writer who long wrote for The New Yorker." --The New York Times

From the Inside Flap

Internationally celebrated, award-winning author Mavis Gallant is a contemporary legend: an undisputed master of the short story whose peerless prose captures the range of human experience while evoking time and place with unequalled skill. This new selection of Gallant?s stories, edited by novelist and poet Michael Ondaatje, gathers the best of her many stories set in Paris, where Gallant has long lived. Here she writes of expatriates and locals, exile and homecoming, and of the illusions of youth and age, offering a kaleidoscopic impression of the world within the world that is Paris. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; Trade Paperback Edition edition (October 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590170229
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590170229
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 97 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book based on an excellent review of it (a good primer for Mavis Gallant newbies, btw) in the April (or May?) Harper's (a great store room for hidden gems.) I had never heard of Ms. Galant before I read the review and her book, but after reading Paris Stories, all I gotta say is, Where the hell have I been since she's been writing for the past 30+ years? Actually I'm only 30, but still. Her writing is magical on so many levels that I'll only mention a couple of them: the consistency and the sublime richness of her prose - it's like really rich fudge, a phrase or two of one of the 15+ stories is often enough for one sitting; the hauntingly subtle rendering of European life; the authority and command of her voice - there is no doubt in my mind that Mavis Gallant was put on this earth to write fiction as her job, and she writes like she knows it. I love that.
2 recommendations: read Michael Ondaajte's intro (in it he mentions that he knows other writers who intentionally refrain from reading Mavis Gallant when they are writing themselves, so they don't lose confidence in themselves); read the afterward, written by the auther herself (in it she makes the wise suggestion to the reader NOT read the stories in the book back to back, but to take one's time and savor every morsal - I concur. Read this book very slowly pausing to read other stuff perhaps - you don't want to miss a word, it's that good.)
Lovers of sublime artwork in literature, read Mavis Gallant. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. I can't wait for Volume 2 to come out this fall!
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on December 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
For better or worse, Mavis Gallant was one of a stable of writers who, for several decades under the editorship of William Shawn, wrote what came to be known as the "typical New Yorker story." Indeed, in a recent interview, the poet Michael Casey recalled a Benjamin Cheever character mocking "a New Yorker story" as "one that goes on and on and nothing much happens but you feel sad at the end of it." And, reading Gallant's stories in the magazine over the years, I likewise felt that they were consistently well written, occasionally interesting, often melancholy, but rather long-winded and ultimately unmemorable.

The fifteen stories collected here offer readers a chance to revisit their impressions of her stories. Behind the Jamesian tea-and-crumpet facade of Gallant's prose lurk human transplants: lost souls away from home, nomads and exiles trying to find a place in the world--Gallant has based virtually her entire career on this theme. The two exceptions are about "the French man of letters" Henri Grippes, Gallant's comic, curmudgeonly, aging alter ego. (Incidentally, the title of the collection, as Michael Ondaatje notes in the introduction, is misleading: not all the stories are set in Paris, nor are they about exiles living in Paris or from Paris; instead, Gallant wrote them all in Paris--which, since Gallant has written nearly all of her fiction there, makes the moniker rather meaningless.)

One of the stylistic quirks that transform many of Gallant's stories into wrestling matches with her readers is her blithe disregard for transitional devices within and between paragraphs.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was delighted to see that Mavis Gallant is back in print. I have loved her work for many years, and always eager to buy the NYer when one of her stories was featured. The only drawback to much of her writing (not present in any of the stories in this collection, though) is that much of what she writes are satirical sketches of French intellectual or expatriate life (for example, the "Grippes and Poche" stories in Paris Stories) which would be totally lost on people who have not visited or lived there. The best of her stories are however profound meditations on loneliness and rootlessness. In this I believe she is an archtypal modern writer who can describe the almost universal experience of being an immigrant, refugee, or escapee from some previous stultifying existence. I think this is why so many people respond to her writing. She is, of course, also a master prose stylist. I urge any aspiring fiction writers to read Mavis Gallant. Contrary to what the above reviewer quoted, I think she can be very instructive and inspiring.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Eric Treanor on August 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
Gallant calls to mind Chekhov. She is funnier--or it's easier for me to catch her North American comic sensibility--and almost as chilling. These stories are extraordinarily well-crafted. As with Chekhov, the craft is in the service of story, not ideology and not the articulation--the self-aggrandizement--of an ego.

Gallant's art makes clear the difference between literature and propaganda, between fiction and philosophy, between life and death.

It occurs to me that in her generous afterword, after her manner, she says that art should illuminate that difference between life and death. The differences should be obvious, one would think; yet reading her stories one realizes that they are not, and to imagine that they are is a form of laziness.

Her women, especially, are riveting. I have discovered only recently the extent to which women have an inner life. I was aware of it, vaguely hoped for it, but thought that women were primarily social, outward-flowing, and consequently I badly underestimated their private complexity.

Reading Gallant in conjunction with what has transpired in my life recently has transformed the way I see women. I don't know if this transformation will manifest itself in the way I live. I hope it does.

Among the gifts Gallant gives her reader, this most of all: her artistic process is impossible to deduce. She says she begins with an image. It's fun to imagine what that image might be with each story; but imagine is all one can do. The stories are seamless. Her touch is too skilled to leave a trace of anything conclusively original or seminal, of the creative artist, the craftsperson, the technician, the necessity at the story's source.

Having read her I want to copy her.
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