Literary Birthday – 11 August – Mavis Gallant

Mavis Gallant was born 11 August 1922 and died 18 February 2014.


  1. Writing is like a love affair: the beginning is the best part.
  2. I wanted to live in Paris and write nothing but fiction and be perfectly free. I had decided all this had to be settled by the time I was thirty, and so I gave up my job and moved to Paris at twenty-eight. I just held my breath and jumped. I didn’t even look to see if there was water in the pool.
  3. Decide what the rest of your life is to be. Whatever you are now, you might be forever.
  4. All lives are interesting; no one life is more interesting than another. Its fascination depends on how much is revealed, and in what manner.
  5. There is something I keep wanting to say about reading short stories. I am doing it now, because I many never have another occasion. Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait.
  6. A short story is what you see when you look out of the window.
  7. Like every other form of art, literature is no more and nothing less than a matter of life and death. The only question worth asking about a story — or a poem, or a piece of sculpture, or a new concert hall — is, Is it dead or alive?
  8. A writer’s life stands in relation to his work as a house does to a garden, related but distinct.
  9. No one is as real to me as people in the novel. It grows like a living thing. When I realise they do not exist except in my mind I have a feeling of sadness, looking around for them, as if the half-empty café were a place I had once come to with friends who had all moved away.
  10. I write every day as a matter of course It is not a burden. It is the way I live.

Mavis Gallant was a Canadian writer who spent time in France. She was well known as a short story writer, and also published novels, plays and essays. She wrote Paris Stories.

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 10th August 2017