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Gallant, Mavis.

Toronto, Mac-millan, c1986. 249pp. cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7715-9610-3. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Alan Thomas

Volume 15 Number 2
1987 March

Leaving an early career as a reporter in Montreal, Mavis Gallant moved to Paris, where she has lived for a number of years and written many short stories, often about foreigners in France. This book talks much more directly about France and the French and, in particular, about the events of May 1968. That revolutionary spasm, which shook the nation and astonished the world (not least with its echoes of previous revolutionary manifestations), provides the subject for a driving pair of diary-essays, which open the book on a tone of excitement. The hectic tone and piece-meal composition make for a certain inconclusiveness about these brilliant fragments of reportage. They are buttressed very solidly by a third essay, "Immortal Gatito," on the true story of Gabrielle Russier, a professeur de lycee hounded to her death in 1968-69 following a love affair with a male student. This concentrated and completed subject allows Gallant to revolve the implications of the story before her readers as she tells it, and, consequently, to open views of French society that are rarely seen.

These three essays justify the book, and, in addition, there are good articles on the French writers Paul Leautaud and Marguerite Yourcenar, which further open French society to view. The whole book provides an example of intelligence in writing that would be a splendid model for would-be writers and journalists even though Gallant's remarkable fiction has already gained her a place on the shelves of Canadian collections.

Alan Thomas, Scarborough College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
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