website statistics Paris Notebooks: Essays & Reviews - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

Paris Notebooks: Essays & Reviews

Availability: Ready to download

Book by Gallant, Mavis


Compare

Book by Gallant, Mavis

30 review for Paris Notebooks: Essays & Reviews

  1. 4 out of 5

    AC

    "I do not read books," David Hume is supposed to have written. "I read IN them..." That describes my approach to this, and, increasingly, to many other books. This particular volume contains the non-fiction writings of Mavis Gallant, a Canadian writer of short stories who spent most of her life in France, and who died recently at a ripe old age. It contains her notes written during the events of May 1968 (Paris Notebooks I and II) -- which are vivid, marvelous, stenographic, peculiar. There is a "I do not read books," David Hume is supposed to have written. "I read IN them..." That describes my approach to this, and, increasingly, to many other books. This particular volume contains the non-fiction writings of Mavis Gallant, a Canadian writer of short stories who spent most of her life in France, and who died recently at a ripe old age. It contains her notes written during the events of May 1968 (Paris Notebooks I and II) -- which are vivid, marvelous, stenographic, peculiar. There is a lengthy account of the Gabrielle Russier case, the Mary Kay Letourneau of the late 60's, early 70's -- whose trial and suicide became a fascination in the press of that time; a marvelous appreciation of the crank writer Paul Léautaud; one of Yourcenar; some essays on style; and some brief reviews of recent books of Nabokov, Simenon, Theodore Zeldin, biographies of Malreaux and Céline, and so forth -- all from the New Yorker, NYRB, and NYTBR from the earlly 70's. Her write moves from the fine to the fabulous -- some of this material weighty, some as light as mist. An excellent collection.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Susan Oleksiw

    Mavis Gallant moved to Europe in 1950, and after trying out a few other cities settled in Paris, where she lived until her death in 2014. She was fluent in French, and lived her life as part of her chosen city rather than as one passing through or relegated to the fringes. This is most evident in her Paris Notebooks Parts I and II, which cover the month of May (and part of June) in 1968, when the students brought the city to a halt. The students were protesting in the United States also, but as Mavis Gallant moved to Europe in 1950, and after trying out a few other cities settled in Paris, where she lived until her death in 2014. She was fluent in French, and lived her life as part of her chosen city rather than as one passing through or relegated to the fringes. This is most evident in her Paris Notebooks Parts I and II, which cover the month of May (and part of June) in 1968, when the students brought the city to a halt. The students were protesting in the United States also, but as Gallant points out, the students protested and rioted at Columbia University and elsewhere and everyone else went about their business. Her description of how the city, its workers, residents, government employees, and others, reacted to the student protests is remarkable for its detail. Gallant left the safety of her apartment and visited the barricades, parents of protesting students, the shopkeepers who had to decide if they’d stay open, close, hoard, or sell, and neighborhoods affected either more or less by the student demands. She also catalogued, gently, the shift in attitudes as the student protests were eventually met with counter protests and a government response. The collection contains a number of book reviews and a few essays on important individuals of the time. The most striking and surprisingly timely is the record of the Gabrielle Russier case. Gabrielle was a young teacher who had an affair with a student, a teenage boy fourteen at the outset. She was originally friends with him and his family, and the relationship started innocently, with a trip to the movies and chatting over coffee. Gallant discusses at crucial points the way French, as opposed to Americans, view certain behaviors, and even within the French context it is not always easy to explain what happened. The boy’s parents ultimately decided to press charges, and thus began a horrifying downward slide for Gabrielle Russier. The twists and turns of her case and the parents’ behavior, court decisions, and public reactions are a riveting but sad story. Gabrielle eventually committed suicide. Nothing in this saga is black or white, and the parallels with incidents in the US underscore the differences between France and the US rather than illuminating the question more brightly. Gallant offers muscular reviews of several books on famous writers, such as Nabokov, de Beauvoir, Sartre, Colette, and Simenon. Her essay on Elizabeth Bowen is perceptive and interesting, as are they all, but unusual in that we hear less about Bowen than we do of the others mentioned. The weakest essay is that on style. This is perhaps the result of the topic rather than the writer. I have yet to read an essay on this topic that is persuasive or very illuminating. The best way to get an understanding of the way Gallant lived and thought is perhaps through her Introduction to The War Brides. Gallant interviewed a number of British women who married Canadian servicemen during the war and emigrated to Canada. Many of them had no idea what they were getting into and most had no choice but to remain and make the best of it. Gallant sees them clearly and kindly, and writes about their circumstances with compassion. She kept in touch with some, and followed up later on the steps in their journeys. Gallant began her writing career as a journalist, before switching to fiction and moving to Europe, and this introduction is an early example of her acute perceptions about people and what makes them tick, a gift that would play out in her fiction over the decades to come.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sunrise

    The main attraction of this book is the journal that Gallant kept during the events of May '68. It's very interesting -- she has no idea what is going to happen as it all begins. She gets caught up in the events, and ends up bitterly disappointed by their conclusion. She doesn't take the students very seriously, seeing the whole affair as a kind of play-acting. Nevertheless, she is on their side. She is inspired by their rejection of xenophobia and their hopes of a better world. She has very har The main attraction of this book is the journal that Gallant kept during the events of May '68. It's very interesting -- she has no idea what is going to happen as it all begins. She gets caught up in the events, and ends up bitterly disappointed by their conclusion. She doesn't take the students very seriously, seeing the whole affair as a kind of play-acting. Nevertheless, she is on their side. She is inspired by their rejection of xenophobia and their hopes of a better world. She has very harsh words for the police and the people who demonstrate against the students. After reading so many of Gallant's stories, in which she disappears so effectively that I would have hesitated to guess anything about her own beliefs, it was nice to get something of a self-portrait. She says the most interesting things, including things she blurts out randomly. For instance: "On a pole near me are a poster sign for the Gothic exhibition at the Louvre and a French flag. Demonstrator, young man, shinnies up, rips off the flag, lets it drop. I burst out, 'Ce n'est pas elegant!'" In a way, Gallant seems to have been changed by the experiences recorded here. I have noticed that her stories in the 70's (and to a lesser degree the 80's) seem to be an improvement over her stories from the 50's and 60's. Reading this made me wonder if it was May 68 that somehow jarred something loose in her. At least, so much of her best work in the 70's seems preoccupied with the things she touches on in these notebooks. What exactly those things are, I find it hard to say. Something like -- how real and close and important the past is, and yet how distant, how impossible, and how limited by the changing present. In fact, the May 68 journals, when combined with the other pieces in the volume, tell that story too. During May 68, Gallant is obsessed with how little the teenaged students who took to the streets understood the War, the occupation, and the resistance. She wishes they could understand why their parents believe what they believe. At the same time, she feels a kind of liberation. The past doesn't need to determine the future, and there is always a chance to start anew. The following piece, "Immortal Gatito: The Gabrielle Russier Case," continues the story in a way. It's a very interesting and entertaining account of a famous court case -- the kind that keeps a whole country at the edge of its seat. Caught up in the atmosphere of May 68, a 31-year-old teacher named Gabrielle Russier has an affair with her 15-year-old student. The student's parents, both Communists, disapprove, and take the teacher to court. The fallout reveals fascinating tensions in French society, how far the changes of the 60's had gone and yet how much had remained the same. Another piece from the first of the book's two sections is entitled "Paris: The Taste of a New Age," and serves as a kind of postscript to the 60's. It's a slightly gloomy catalogue of the changes happening in Paris and France at the end of the 70's and the beginning of the 80's: "Until just a few years ago, a foreign parent inviting a child to play with her own would find on the doorstep a mother and child dressed as though for a formal wedding, expecting a quiet gouter and an organdy tablecloth. ("They don't know how to play" was a frequent complaint of English-speaking children). Now the children of Paris wear comfortable clothes, and that race of tense, elderly, overdressed young has all but disappeared." The essay is most concerned with urban design and architecture. Gallant finds the new Paris of the 80's to feel more hollow, empty, and uninhabited than the old Paris. It seems to have lost much of its unique flavour. It also seems to be a product of apathy and money-making -- people have lost interest in maintaining the public world that used to exist, and instead the real estate industry seems to dictate the rules. Gallant never uses words like neoliberalism, Americanization, or anything like that, but they don't lurk far from the surface. It seems like Gallant came to Paris because of the rich cultural fabric of everyday life. Throughout this book, she shows just how deeply she has tried to imbibe that fabric, how much to make herself at home. I believe her Canadian stories show just how much she thought this was lacking in Canada, although she has never said anything about that. Perhaps she needed May 68 to realize that the cultural world she came for was changing fast, and attempt to record all of these changes and movements, only to find in the 80's that the cord of connection had snapped, that the changes had not been the beginning of something new but only the end of something old. That is the story I have pieced together, anyway.

  4. 5 out of 5

    1.1

    There's a little bit of everything in this book, and Gallant's most excellent writing makes it all so delightful that I'm probably going to read it again in a few months. It opens with a terse, two part journal detailing Gallant's experiences during the strikes and chaos of the 1968 student riots. Following that are some of the finest essays I've read in a long time, such as What is Style? (a must-read) and a great reflection on Paul Léautaud's life. Who is Léautaud? I didn't know at all before There's a little bit of everything in this book, and Gallant's most excellent writing makes it all so delightful that I'm probably going to read it again in a few months. It opens with a terse, two part journal detailing Gallant's experiences during the strikes and chaos of the 1968 student riots. Following that are some of the finest essays I've read in a long time, such as What is Style? (a must-read) and a great reflection on Paul Léautaud's life. Who is Léautaud? I didn't know at all before the essay, and now I want to read his memoirs: that's just how good the essay is. Gallant's writing is top notch. It's brisk, concise, evocative, sometimes unexpected, and always easy to read. It doesn't hurt that she frames her subjects incredibly well, so even when you read about an unfamiliar person or event, you quickly get your bearings. Plus the venom she drops on poor translation (a running theme later in the book) is wondrous. It's hard to find good translation criticism. In the second part of the book you get a bunch of incisive, well-written reviews that will probably make you wish that anyone could write reviews with Gallant's insight and verve in this day and age. Alas, you'll have to settle for my hyperbole: this is an excellent book. Anyone who loves reading, and everyone who writes, should read it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Craig Werner

    Gallant was living in Paris during May '68, on assignment from the New Yorker, and she kept a fragmentary journal of events as the streets of Paris filled with protestors, normal life ground to a halt, and, ultimately, De Gaulle reestablished control. There's almost no big picture context, but the vignettes of daily life at a defining moment of the Sixties give a sense I hadn't gotten anywhere else. Gallant was living in Paris during May '68, on assignment from the New Yorker, and she kept a fragmentary journal of events as the streets of Paris filled with protestors, normal life ground to a halt, and, ultimately, De Gaulle reestablished control. There's almost no big picture context, but the vignettes of daily life at a defining moment of the Sixties give a sense I hadn't gotten anywhere else.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bartleby

    Wes Anderson is in the building

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Dwyer

    Wonderful writing. A great review of 1968 . And her delightful commentary on various writers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Claudine

    The first 2 segments are Gallant's detailed account of the l968 'manifestations' in Paris 1968-- gives the reader a 'you are there' sense of what it was like to live through those times: no metro, no deliveries, no car because no petrol, no groceries, etc--all mixed with the intensity of the demonstrations,the police, the varied perspectives, and the changing views of some people after it was all over. The remainder of the book includes her essays and book reviews. Of special note is Gallant's The first 2 segments are Gallant's detailed account of the l968 'manifestations' in Paris 1968-- gives the reader a 'you are there' sense of what it was like to live through those times: no metro, no deliveries, no car because no petrol, no groceries, etc--all mixed with the intensity of the demonstrations,the police, the varied perspectives, and the changing views of some people after it was all over. The remainder of the book includes her essays and book reviews. Of special note is Gallant's essay on the Gabrielle Russier affair (with a younger male student) and the French reaction, which angers Gallant for it's double standard for women and abuse of power. Read only a few book reviews--much like essays, with lots of background and information.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Mavis Gallant`s power as a short story writer leaves you unprepared for what an astounding and perceptive critic and observer she is...though arguably the best short story writers are great and close observers of human nature. But this collection, especially the essays on the Paris revolts of 1968, leave you wanting more. I suspect I should be satisfied that she is such a prolific short story writer...but I do want more of her non fiction. Mavis Gallant`s power as a short story writer leaves you unprepared for what an astounding and perceptive critic and observer she is...though arguably the best short story writers are great and close observers of human nature. But this collection, especially the essays on the Paris revolts of 1968, leave you wanting more. I suspect I should be satisfied that she is such a prolific short story writer...but I do want more of her non fiction.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Even when I knew nothing/cared little about the subject of one of the essays (Paul Leautaud, Jean Giraudoux... who & who?), I still admired her style and insight. Interesting perspectives on French society.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Raimo Wirkkala

    A little dated now but still worthwhile for fans of Gallant.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Lightness and balance, the kind that restore sanity.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Adam Corvo

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nadia Kalman

  16. 5 out of 5

    DoctorM

  17. 4 out of 5

    Paul Van der lecq

  18. 4 out of 5

    James

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tamela

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sonya

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sergio Remon Alvarez

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shelley Diamond

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

  24. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chev

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robert Pearson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anita Catania

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sav

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael Dundon

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...