Overhead in a Balloon: Twelve Stories of Paris by Mavis Gallant | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Overhead in a Balloon

Overhead in a Balloon

by Mavis Gallant
     
 

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These twelve stories are set in Paris, Mavis Gallant’s adopted home, a city whose nuances she brings to life through a wide range of characters: squabbling writers, bewildered parents, scheming art dealers, beleaguered tenants, and feckless drifters. An artist’s widow proves more than a match for Sandor Speck, who hopes to make a name for himself

Overview

These twelve stories are set in Paris, Mavis Gallant’s adopted home, a city whose nuances she brings to life through a wide range of characters: squabbling writers, bewildered parents, scheming art dealers, beleaguered tenants, and feckless drifters. An artist’s widow proves more than a match for Sandor Speck, who hopes to make a name for himself with her late husband’s paintings. Literary rivals Prism and Grippes, the protégés of a rich, misguided American patron, battle across the years. And in the Magdalena stories, a man is caught in the pull of loyalties between his beautiful first wife from a marriage of political conscience, and the woman he truly loves. Elegant, concise, finely textured, these stories never relax the tension between detachment and compassion, understanding and mystery, memory and truth. With remarkable intelligence and an unfailing eye for the telling detail, Gallant weaves stories of intricate simplicity and spare complexity.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“To take up residence in the mind of Mavis Gallant, as one does in reading her stories, is a privilege and a delight.…In the taut, high-wire literary performance in this volume, Mavis Gallant is at the top of her form.”
New York Times Book Review

“This is a splendid collection…to be savoured and passed around to friends who appreciate slyness and who know about the little sadnesses which scar but do not kill.”
Washington Post Book World

“Mavis Gallant’s fiction is among the finest ever written by a Canadian.”
Books in Canada

“One of the great short story writers of our time.”
Bookseller (U.K.)

“Mavis Gallant’s stories are so tightly constructed, their tone so wry that they need to be digested a little at a time, like a large piece of rich cake. And it’s hard to leave even a bit untasted.”
Newsday

“Each story is a gem.”
Virginia Quarterly Review

“Mavis Gallant is a master of contemporary prose and Overhead in a Balloon is a superb and triumphant collection.”
Chapel Hill Newspaper

“[An] authority of presence coupled with Gallant’s Chekhovian eye for the intricacies of personal relationships has made Overhead in a Balloon an outstanding addition to her previous books.”
Pittsburgh Press

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gallant ( Home Truths, etc.) sets these adroit stories (11 previously appeared in the New Yorker, one in Harper's in Paris, her home since 1950, binding them with droll, sometimes poignant humor and an assemblage of characters who pop up repeatedly, along with their relatives, neighbors and colleagues. Least successful is the title story, a dense confection combining an aged, confused mother, her exasperated brood, a rambling apartment and a morose tenant in a flurry of shifting focuses. Far more enjoyable is a trio of stories involving a testy French novelist and British author, once proteges of a singularly misguided, rich American, who aim literary potshots at each other across the years. Gallant is a master at montage; the overlapping angles of lives on view here hint deliciously at the full picture, yet never sate by tediously filling in all the details. (March 9)
Library Journal
The accomplished author of these stories, all but one of which appeared in The New Yorker, is a Canadian settled in Paris. Here she portrays cultivated, comfortable Parisians whose preoccupations and preconceptions keep others at a distance. The droll lead story, ``Speck's Idea,'' is the most entertaining. In it an aging art gallery owner hopes to exhibit a neglected artist for whom the world is now readyif he can think of such an artist. The title story describes a lonely lodger who is never accepted as part of the family with whom he boards. In ``The Assembly,'' a group of residents meet about building security but talk past one another about personal trivia. The Paris locale, the quirky Gallic mentalities, and the rich detail evoke a foreign atmosphere, and certain characters emerge in more than one story, as in a novel. Recommended. William A. Donovan, Chicago P.L.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780771032943
Publisher:
McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
Publication date:
09/17/2002
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.41(w) x 8.37(h) x 0.58(d)

Meet the Author

Born in Montreal in 1922, Mavis Gallant left a career as a leading journalist in that city to move to Paris in 1950 to write.

Since that time she has been publishing stories on a regular basis in The New Yorker, many of which have been anthologized. Her world-wide reputation has been established by books such as From the Fifteenth District and Home Truths, which won the Governor General’s Award in 1982. In that same year she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, becoming a Companion of the Order in 1993, the year that she published Across the Bridge and was the recipient of a special tribute at the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors in Toronto. In 1996, The Selected Stories of Mavis Gallant was published to universal acclaim. Paris Stories, a selection edited by Michael Ondaatje, appeared in 2002, and was followed by the companion volume Montreal Stories, edited by Russell Banks, in 2004.

Gallant is a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She has received several honorary degrees from Canadian universities and remains a much-sought-after public speaker. In 2001 she became the first winner of the Matt Cohen Award, and in 2002 she won the Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix and the Rea Award for the Short Story.

She continues to live in Paris.

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