The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories

The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories

by Mavis Gallant, Jhumpa Lahiri

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Overview

A New York Review Books Original

Mavis Gallant is renowned as one of the great short-story writers of our day. This new gathering of long-unavailable or previously uncollected work presents stories from 1951 to 1971 and shows Gallant's progression from precocious virtuosity, to accomplished artistry, to the expansive innovatory spirit that marks her finest work. 

"Madeleine's Birthday," the first of Gallant's many stories to be published in The New Yorker, pairs off a disaffected teenager, abandoned by her social-climbing mother, with a complacent middle-aged suburban housewife, in a subtly poignant comedy of miscommunication that reveals both characters to be equally adrift. "The Cost of Living," the extraordinary title story, is about a company of strangers, shipwrecked over a chilly winter in a Parisian hotel and bound to one another by animosity as much as by unexpected love. 

Set in Paris, New York, the Riviera, and Montreal and full of scrupulously observed characters ranging from freebooters and malingerers to runaway children and fashion models, Gallant's stories are at once satirical and lyrical, passionate and skeptical, perfectly calibrated and in constant motion, brilliantly capturing the fatal untidiness of life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590174210
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 04/27/2011
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
File size: 472 KB

About the Author

Mavis Gallant was born in Montreal and worked as a journalist at the Montreal Standard before moving to Europe to devote herself to writing fiction. After traveling extensively she settled in Paris, where she still resides. She is the recipient of the 2002 Rea Award for the Short Story and the 2004 PEN/Nabokov Award for lifetime achievement. New York Review Books Classics has published two previous collections of Gallant's stories, Paris Stories, selected and introduced by Michael Ondaatje (2002), and Varieties of Exile, selected and introduced by Russell Banks (2003).

Jhumpa Lahiri is the author of the short-story collections Unaccustomed Earthand Interpreter of Maladies, and of a novel, The Namesake. Her interview with Mavis Gallant appeared in the summer 2009 issue of Granta.

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The Cost of Living: Early and Uncollected Stories 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
urbanchik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Satirical messiness, loved it.
ericnguyen09 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"I don't know why we came at all."I never heard of Mavis Gallant before this book. She's not one of the authors you usually find in school--Raymond Carver and Anthon Chekov and JCO, among some others, but not Mavis Gallant. And apparently she's prolific. All of the works here, including her first published story, were published in the New Yorker, that magazine that all writers only dream of writing for. Gallant also won the 2002 Rea Award, which is given every year to a writer who has significantly influenced the short form. Yet, I have never heard of her until I was stumbling around looking for masters of the short form and that search brought me to this collection published by NYRB and introduced by Pultizer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri.I was plesantly surprised. Collected here are 20 stories to dazzle you and excite you. Everything here is a gem to savor and cherish. Among the highlights is of course, the first story, Gallant's first story, "Madeleine's Birthday," which exquistedly captures a day in the life of the title character, who stays with her mother's close friend, after her mother (after a divorce) decides she couldn't cope with it anymore. Likewise, the two sisters in the title story move to Paris after their parents' deaths, and learn that they might not be able to cope as the artists they had dreamt of being. The key word in these stories seem be cope. All Gallant's stories are about coping as travelers: her extended metaphor for those of us who are lost, left drifting in life, mixed in a schism between what we're supposed to be and what we actually are, like the mother in "Going Ashore," or the alwaying failing husband in "The Burgundy Weekend." In such a way, Gallant is an expert of the human experience and carefully observant realist. Her prose is poetic yet at the same time, concretely detailed. "The Wedding Ring" is a perfect example of Gallant's materialism as it describes the oridnary objects of her characters' lives, moving from one to the next in order to make some sense of these people. Among other highlights are "A Day Like Any Other," "Autumn Day,""Travelers Must Be Content," "Thieves and Rascals," yet read them all. These stories are the type of stories that make you shiver, the type of story that pulls at the human heart strings and magnifies the human condition. The collection, as a whole, is one of the few books I was sad to see end. And luckily, Gallant has a long list of stories, and NYRB has already published two other collections of Gallant's work. I cannot recommend this highly enough; anything read after this would be absurdly disappointing.
jfetting on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Short story fans: run, do not walk, to your nearest bookstore or library and get a copy of this book. You will not be disappointed. This is a wonderful collection of short stories by a writer who should be much better known. Mavis Gallant was a Canadian who has spent much of her life in Paris, and many of the stories reflect this expat existence. My favorites include "The Cost of Living", about two sisters living in a hotel in postwar Paris, and "Autumn Day", about a woman who joins her husband (a soldier) who is stationed in rural France. Most of her characters are a little bit lost, and the stories themselves are a bit melancholy, but in a good way. The writing is fantastic - I will definitely be looking for more of her stories. Thank goodness that the NYRB keeps publishing them!
Sheltiemama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had never heard of Mavis Gallant before receiving a copy of this book, and I'm so glad I got a copy. Gallant's short stories are about people after World War II, mostly in Europe. She has shown me a time and place that I never would have been able to experience otherwise. Her characters all are adrift in the world in some way. This isn't the book to read when you want to be jollied out of a bad mood. Read it when you want to luxuriate in a rainy day. Her use of the English language and the details she chooses paint a remarkably vivid picture. I really enjoyed the short-story format. It's a fast read, but you can put it down and pick it back up again for another story without losing anything.
kurvanas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mavis Gallant is one of the unsung heroes of the short form in literature. This collection is a wonderful showcase of her early works, most of which appeared in The New Yorker. That should instantly alert you. She holds her own alongside the more well-known American giants like John Updike. She is a realist, but less a psychologist. Her work is concrete, her worlds real, not fanciful, but they are just as artfully drawn. She has Updike's knack at poetic language and captures the beauty of simplicity. Also, a bit of Parisienne sensibilities infects all her writings. More love of life, if you will, to offset that Cost of Living. Do yourself a favor, read Mavis Gallant's stories. Your inner reader will rejoice.
txpam on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
No one will be disappointed once they are introduced to Ms. Gallant's superb short stories. A wonderful storyteller with attention to detail and characters that linger in the memory forever.Highly recommended.
tackerman1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very good short stories. Worth the time to take and read it. Hope to read more of this author's books in the futureYou will enjoy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago