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Publisher's Summary

Mavis Gallant is an undisputed master of the short story whose peerless prose captures the range of human experience while evoking time and place with unequaled skill. This new collection of 15 of Gallant's stories, edited by best-selling author Michael Ondaatje, gathers the best of her many stories set in Europe and Paris, where Gallant has long lived.

Mysterious, funny, insightful, and heartbreaking, these are tales of expatriates and exiles, wise children and straying saints. They compose a secret history, both intimate and panoramic, of modern times, and offer a kaleidoscopic impression of the world within a world that is Paris.

©2002 Michael Ondaatje (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Finalist, Short Stories, Collections, 2007

"Mavis Gallant writes some of the most superbly crafted and perceptive stories of our time." (Globe and Mail)
"Mavis Gallant's finely honed prose captures the small details that illuminate a life." (Publishers Weekly)
"Ms. Gallant...has dared to drift in a disorienting century, always trusting her own imaginative compass. Her fiction, never fooled into trying to keep up with history, will last a long time." (New York Times)

What listeners say about Paris Stories

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What’s not to like

Author
Canadian (1922-2014), although she lived most of her life in Paris. Predominantly a short story writer who also dabbled in novels, plays, and essays. Largely under-appreciated except among fellow literary fiction writers on both sides of the Atlantic, and readers of the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, the publisher of this collection. Michael Ondaatje curated and wrote a laudatory introduction I found informative but never hagiographic.

Random Notes
The title relates to where the stories were written rather than the setting, which varies although Europe predominates. The distinction between journalism and fiction, according to Ms Gallant, “is the difference between without and within." By that she meant the reporting of events rather than the exploration of character. At least, that's what I think she meant.
Most successful, as in big selling, fiction these days is plot driven, whether it be crime stories, thrillers, romance, or fantasy. Not a lot happens in Ms Gallant's stories, and most of what does is decidedly quotidian, but by the end she has painted an effortless, yet exquisitely detailed portrait of the principal character, warts-and-all. I kept asking myself, "How does she do that?"
As they say in the movie business: show, don't tell. Ms G is a past master of the rapid change of focus and angle, or point of view, eschewing the seemingly endless autobiographical interior monologues common in contemporary literary fiction.
Her phrasing is effortlessly poetic too: “a long ribbon of sound unwinds in his sleep.” and she can be witty: a man who “often did whatever a woman asked, unless it was important.” What's not to like?

Bottom line
I am ashamed not to have delved into the oeuvre of Ms Gallant previously, but delighted to have redressed that situation. The audio version is excellent, which is handy because there's no e book available in Oz and the paperback has to be imported from the US.

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  • Dennis
  • 23-05-2007

beautifully narrated

This are great stories full of insight, humor, and
complexity. The narrator, Lorna Raver, is amazing; she can mimic voices of her characters, male or female, with uncanny realism. Highly recommended on all counts.

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  • adrian
  • 03-01-2021

table of contents!

Love these stories. My one critique is that short story anthologies needs to have the title of the story, and numbering chapters is useless. The lack of a good table of contents makes it very difficult to relisten

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  • Fred Ovrom
  • 11-09-2021

The readers ruin it for me

I just thought the readers were very annoying. The stories I found uninteresting. Maybe I’m missing something

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  • P. T. McConnell
  • 19-05-2016

exquisite

Gallant's stories are perfectly crafted and delicious. Lorna Raver's narration is pure and satirical, beautiful formed and a delight to listen to. Rasovksy's leave some to be desired but with some attention can be tolerated. a really fine experience.

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  • Lisbeth
  • 07-02-2012

Never could get into it

I could never get into this audio at all. What I did hear was not captivating. This is one of those I regret!

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  • Paul
  • 05-03-2008

Sorry, no Chekhov here

Or William Trevor, for that matter. I struggled to get through these stories because they were devoid of action. Even in a short story, something - anything - has to happen to somebody. I was expecting a lot more. The narrator is good, but I tired of her voice because I tired of the story, and not the other way 'round.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mariachi
  • 14-10-2013

Flawless writing, performance ok

Would you listen to Paris Stories again? Why?

I am a big fan of Mavis Gallant, her writing is incomparable - I was pleased to discover Paris Stories had been turned into an audio book. The performance, however, is just a bit over the top for Gallant- this is especially true in the Ice Wagon Going Down the Street. Gallant deserves a much more subtle reader/performer, one that teases out the subtext of her writing. Compare these recordings to writer Margaret Atwood reading Gallant's Voices Lost in the Snow in a New Yorker podcast and you'll see the difference!

What other book might you compare Paris Stories to, and why?

Dear Life

What three words best describe Lorna Raver and Yuri Rasovsky ’s voice?

Over the top

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