More from Mavis Gallant
3 March 2011
It’s a little like falling in love, when you find a kind of literary mentor from afar.
I had a great, great fear that I was bent on doing something for which I have no ability, and that took years and years to get rid of…that I was dedicating my life to something I was not fit for.
I am uncertain about every line I write and I am uncertain until I get readers.
Like every form of art, literature is no more and nothing less than a matter of life and death.
-from Michael Ondaatje‘s introduction to The Paris Stories
That last quote makes Gallant sound perhaps melodramatic about life as an artiste, but if you read her work you know that melodrama is not a part of her lexicon or world view. She is speaking, I think, to the stakes of literature – the quality of both our reading and writing, how real is our commitment – if you have chosen it as your path. Gallant chose it above all else, this is clear. I think about how selfish that choice must have seemed to others throughout her life; and yet look at what she’s given us.