Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Today's Short Story by Mavis Gallant

Today's short story comes from a book I was given by my parents on my 19th birthday. It is called Sometimes Magic, and is a collection of stories chosen to appeal to teen girls. Yesterday's story, The Nightingales Sing is one of the offerings. Some are excerpts from novels and others are short stories.

My choice today is One Morning In June by Mavis Gallant. It comes from The Other Paris, collected stories published in 1956.

It concerns two young people, a girl of sixteen and a boy a little older, who are on a picnic at the suggestion of her aunt. Both are in France for a time. The reader sees both their points of view as they spend the afternoon together. Neither knows what they want to do in the future. He is abroad discovering if he has any artistic talent, and she is spending a year with her aunt after failing in high school. They don't really communicate; rather they seem to talk at one another. He says something, she says something, but neither says what they really feel. I wonder if teen girls today could relate at all to the girl in this story. I doubt the slow pace, the fact that nothing really seems to happen would appeal to girls who are already reading about serious, current subjects in junior high school. I did enjoy it, but that may be because I can remember those awkward encounters, and also because I like the details, the post-war feel to the locale, and that slow pace.

This was a very well-written story by an author whose name I first read in Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast by Bill Richardson. She is on a list of "Favourite Authors For The Bath."

A bath should have something of the elegant about it, and I can think of no writing more stylish than that of Montreal-born, Paris-based Mavis Gallant. As someone who has never lived elsewhere, I enjoy reading the works of a happy expatriate who feels the strong tug of home.

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