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Gallant, Mavis.

Toronto. Macmillan. c1956, 1986. 240pp, paper, $8.95, ISBN 0-7715-9738-X. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Donalee Moulton-Barrett

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

In 1956, Mavis Gallant's first book of short stories, The Other Paris, was published. That collection established Gallant's reputation as a superior writer, Now, thirty years later, Macmilan of Canada has reissued the collection in paperback.

Despite the time that has elapsed since the original publication and the re-issue, the twelve stories in The Other Paris are as provocative and powerful as ever. The stories, set from Montreal to Madrid, Tangier to Salzburg, are ironic, penetrating, often comic. They are maslerpieces of tension, without being pendantic or preachy.

Gallant is also adept at scraping away human illusions. In "Senor Pinedo," for example, she juxtaposes the colour of life against the barrenness of political propaganda; religious faith against the crushing reality of a faulty elevator.

Senor Pinedo and I were the last to leave the court. We parted, and through the partition I heard him telling his wife that he had much to do that week, a social profit connected with the hurt child. In his happiness, he sounded almost childlike himself, convinced, as he most convince others, of the truth and good faith of the movement to which he had devoted his life and in which he must continue to believe.

Although Gallant's themes, are weighty, the writing itself is graceful, almost airy. There is a musical quality to her flow of words that carries the reader gently from scene to scene, character to character. And, like any good piece of music, the melody lingers long after the final chords have been played.

Donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, N.S.
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