My Too Little Time With Mavis Gallant

I would love to have had more personal experiences with Mavis Gallant, but as it turned out, I just had two.

One was on October 27, 1996. Gallant was in town for the International Festival of Authors. She hadn’t lived in Canada since 1950, and didn’t come back much, but her publisher had just put out her Selected Stories and so she returned for an event that would feature her and Mordecai Richler. It was just the two of them, sitting in comfortable chairs on stage.

The talk was easy, but the words were not. I remember being enthralled throughout, seeing these two lions purr and growl in each other’s company, though I don’t now remember too much of what was said. They did talk about Louis-Ferdinand Céline—I’d never heard of the guy before, but the way they spoke of him, and the grace of his language, suddenly qualified him as one

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