Across the Bridge

Across the Bridge

by Mavis Gallant
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The first four of the eleven stories in this book are connected, following the fortunes of the Carette family. In "1933" their widowed mother teaches Berthe and Marie to conceal the fact that she was a seamstress, and to say instead that she was "clever with her hands." In "The Chosen Husband" the luckless suitor, Louis, has to undergo the front-parlor scrutiny of… See more details below

Overview

The first four of the eleven stories in this book are connected, following the fortunes of the Carette family. In "1933" their widowed mother teaches Berthe and Marie to conceal the fact that she was a seamstress, and to say instead that she was "clever with her hands." In "The Chosen Husband" the luckless suitor, Louis, has to undergo the front-parlor scrutiny of Marie's mother and sister: "But then Louis began to cough and had to cover his mouth. He was in trouble with a caramel. The Carettes looked away, so that he could strangle unobserved. 'How dark it is,' said Berthe, to let him think that he could not be seen." Almost all of the other stories take place in the Paris Mavis Gallant knows so well. "Across the Bridge," the title story, begins with the narrator's mother throwing her reluctant daughter's wedding invitations into the Seine. "I watched the envelopes fall in a slow shower and land on the dark water and float apart. Strangers leaned on the parapet and stared, too, but nobody spoke." A master of contemporary prose - elegant, concise, finely textured - Mavis Gallant never relaxes the tension between detachment and compassion, understanding and mystery, memory and truth. She constantly surprises the reader with her quicksilver perceptions of the moments when people's illusions are revealed and their lives change irrevocably as they form new, necessary illusions. With irony and an unfailing eye for the telling detail, she weaves stories of such intricate simplicity and spare complexity that critics have rightly compared her with Henry James and Anton Chekhov. Across the Bridge is a vintage collection by one of the best short-story writers in the world.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Books of the Century
...[O]ne of the best collections of fiction in years. @#@1993)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 11 stories in this collection demonstrate Gallant's capacious knowledge of human nature, refracted through her ironic views of the battle of the sexes and of the conflict between generations. Penetrating and insightful, these tales reflect the sensibilities of conservative Catholic Montrealers and Parisians coping with the crises of modern life. The husbands and fathers portrayed here prefer their women placid, pretty and without intellectual ambition. And with few exceptions the women are compliant, either out of a general inbred dreaminess or a pathetic lack of opportunity or gumption. The most captivating characters are women who evade this fate. Berthe Carette, whose family is the subject of four interlocked stories, defies the church, remains unwed and independent and sleeps with married men. (Her purposefully helpless, blandly demanding sister Marie also gets her own way, however.) Bright, perceptive Nora Abbott, the teenaged protagonist of ``The Fenton Child,'' cleverly deals with the Montreal-Anglo disdain of French-speaking natives, and also learns how to handle her scheming father. The French heroine of the title story, romantic, naive Sylvie, regrets her moment of rebellion until she finds the ``true life that was almost ready to let me in.'' Gallant's sharp tongue cuts through churchly cant, moral hypocrisy and the myth of male superiority; her finely honed prose captures the small details that illuminate a life. This collection will add to her deserved reputation as a superb practitioner of her craft. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Gallant's elegant, witty tales of place and person weave together small domestic moments described in careful detail. Her characters are either on the fringes of Parisian or Canadian gentility, or are Eastern European immigrants, well out of it; their choices of dress, address, words, restaurants, even the dishes served to dinner guests, reveal the subtleties of unalterable social status that circumscribe their lives. They care greatly and elaborately about appearances: sisters Berthe and Marie, who are featured in several of the stories, are cautioned by their widowed seamstress mother never to reveal her occupation but to say only that she was ``clever with her hands.'' In the title piece, a perceptive but passive young woman moves not unhappily toward a probably loveless marriage. Gallant beautifully structures her stories (most of which appeared in The New Yorker ) and depicts characters and situations with insight and irony. Recommended for most collections.-- Eleanor Mitchell, Arizona State Univ . West, Phoenix
From the Publisher
“There isn't a finer writer in the English language.”
Books in Canada

“She is a very good writer indeed.”
The New York Times

“Mavis Gallant is a marvellously clear-headed observer and a rare phrase-maker.”
Times Literary Supplement

“Mavis Gallant writes some of the most superbly crafted and perceptive stories of our time.”
Globe and Mail

“One of the best writers of our language, an artist who is above fad and fashion.”
Saturday Night

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786701438
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/1994
Edition description:
1st Carrol & Graf ed
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.62(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >