Friday, June 15, 2012

"No haircuts just before traveling. No talking about living authors."

Mavis Gallant (from: Granta)

"I have never read or heard about anything to do with the writing of fiction that fits, exactly, my own experience, and I now believe it must be difficult. If fiction grows out of the layers of time, memory, imagination and invention, it ought to be possible to dig into the foundation and analyze each element, down to the bedrock. But the truth is that it resists analysis, all but the most shallow and humdrum, and cannot be tested or measured or, really, classified and contained.
     Once, it must have been at about 1992, when I happened to be working all day, every day, on a story set in the Paris of 1953, I was stunned and bewildered to step outside and discover the shape of the cars, the casual clothing and clean facades of the 1990s. This shock – a true shock, for it brought me to a standstill – lasted no more than a couple of seconds. Had it gone on I might have believed that part of my mind had been severed and sent adrift. As it was, I accepted it as a fragment of the power of memory to influence time."
— Mavis Gallant, Granta

"[...] It was 1994, and I was in my second year at Washington College. Located in Chestertown, Maryland, the school is well-known for its Rose O’Neill Literary House, which has hosted hundreds of authors and poets over the past thirty years. Robert Day, founder and former director of the Literary House Press, loves to talk about the college’s literary pedigree. His story of how Allen Ginsberg once tried to levitate Bunting Hall is rivaled only by the legend of James Dickey’s drunken, angry, naked streak up and down Washington Avenue. Indeed, Lit House mythology and the lure of the Sophie Kerr Prize were the primary reasons I attended Washington College.
     During my sophomore year, the college invited Mavis Gallant to Sophie Kerr Weekend, an event where prospective students participate in a weekend writing workshop with a famous author. At the time, I was taking a class with Bob Day in which we read Gallant’s Across the Bridge. I loved the book, and so when Day asked for a volunteer to pick the author up at the airport, I jumped at the chance.
     Unfortunately, I didn’t have a car—the single requirement for the job. The only one I could think to borrow belonged to Steve Kim, an extremely tall Asian kid who’d driven down to the Eastern Shore all the way from Alaska. Steve’s half-painted boat of a Buick (or maybe it was a Pontiac Grand Prix) was the QE2 of beat-up pieces of shit—but it would have to do."
— B. E. Hopkins, Translated from the Gibberish

Get all of Mavis Gallant's books here...

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