Late, great, short story writer Mavis Gallant lived the dream.
At only 28, she quit New York for the literary life in Paris, and became wildly successful. In a Paris Review interview in 1996 (over coffee at Le Select – yes, that one), Gallant described how she broke free from the humdrum:
“I liked the life [I lead in New York], but it wasn’t the life I wanted… so I gave up my job and moved to Paris at twenty-eight.” *Sighing dramatically because it’s so romantic and French*.
This Monday night at McNally Jackson Books, the International Literature Book Club celebrates Gallant’s life and work, with a reading and discussion of her rose-tinted short story collection, Paris Stories. Gallant’s tales, all written at her kitchen table in the City of Lights, unfold across Europe in an artistic assemblage of the notes she took on life in France. The details are so acute and vivid, readers need not travel beyond the five boroughs to be utterly transported.
Gallant is every Paris-lover’s idol. Her portrayal of Paris is as classic as Chanel, Gauloise Cigarettes, or Audrey Hepburn in…anything:
“I read in cafés and I like small books. I always have one in case I get stuck somewhere. I usually have a notebook too, and I write letters,” she told the Paris Review interviewer. “I wanted to live in Paris and write nothing but fiction and be perfectly free.”
The Reading and Discussion at McNally Jackson Books begins at 6.30pm, and is free of charge. Paris Stories is available for purchase at all major bookstores including here at Barnes and Noble and here at McNally Jackson (52 Prince Street, Manhattan 10011.)