"Between Zero and One" by Mavis Gallant
As I watched Norte Dame on fire, I thought of a so very happy Mavis Gallant on her first visit to the cathedral, letting hundreds of years of French history impact her, knowing she was where she was meant to be.
April 11, 1922 - Montreal
1950 - moves to Paris
September 1, 1951- publishes, in The New Yorker, her first short story. She would go onto publish 116 stories in The New Yorker. ( I greatly enjoy looking at the covers of the issue in which a story was published.)
February 18, 2014 - passes away in her beloved Paris
In the collection Home Truths there are six linked stories centering on Linnet Muir. The stories are structured as Linnet when older looking back on her life.
She is a very independent person, very into a reading life, with no real family ties. From Montreal, she is now maybe twenty-one, World War Two is well underway. She works in office where most of the men are World War One Veterans. There are other women in the office but they are typists. She is the first woman hired to do the work the men do. The office is very much a civil service place where no one works to hard while waiting for their pension. There is resentment against her for taking a job from a man. All the men come across as bland grey unemotional time servers. The war is somehow made to seem not of great concern to Canads
These six stories made look for clues as to why Gallant moved from Canada to France. Montreal seems a boring city with no real identity and little culture.
The only future there for Linnet is to marry. All the married men in her office advise her against marriage. When she announces she intends to marry a young soldier scheduled to be to Europe, everyone advises her not to marry.
"“Don’t do it, Linnet. Don’t do it.” Bertie Knox said, “Once you’re in it, you’re in it, kiddo.” I can’t remember any man ever criticizing his own wife–it is something men don’t often do, anywhere–but the warning I had was this: marriage was a watershed that transformed sweet, cheerful, affectionate girls into, well, their own mothers. Once a girl had caught (their word) a husband she became a whiner, a snooper, a killjoy, a wet blanket, a grouch, and a bully."
When not working, she writes.
We go along when she submits one of her plays to a producer. There is an interesting segment on Linnet's day at the theater.