Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, June 3, 2018

“Oh Lasting Peace”. -A Short Story by Mavis Gallant - 1963

1922 Montreal

2004 Paris

““No, no. I was retired long ago,” he said. “Forcibly retired. My factories were bombed. I made a little porcelain –pretty stuff. But my vocation was elsewhere.” Having let that sink in, he put on his quotations voice and said, “ ‘And now, like many another wreck, I am throwing myself into the arms of literature.’ “ spoken by Uncle Theo

I’m greatly enjoying my participation in Buried in Print’s read through of the near 200 Short Stories of Mavis 
Gallant.  I have access to 100 of her stories and have been reading along as I can. Gallant could create complete pictures of complex multifarious characters in just a few pages, setting our life histories and social enviorments.  Her characters say interesting things and a number of her persons are delightfully bookish.

“O Last Peace” set in defeated Germany shortly after the close of World War Two, centres on a family composed 
Of the female narrator, well into her unmarried middle age, her mother, her Uncle Theo and her Aunt Charlotte.  The narrator works at a tourist agency.  
Uncle Theo has a pension from his time in a concentration camp, as an anti-social due to his 
involvement with the black market.  They support the others.  Fifteen years ago her father, Theo’s brother used to live with them but he left her mother for another woman.

It is Christmas Eve, Uncle Theo is in her line pretending to be a customer so he can talk to her about them sending money to her father.  We learn a lot about past Christmases, about the resentment west Germans have over East German refugees.  In a funny interlude a man in line behind Uncle Theo wants to cash a traveler’s check to pay a lady of the evening waiting out front.  He leaves mad.  I thought how Gallant just sort of threw this in shows her master touch.

“A Lasting Peace” is a great short story.  The next story to be read will be “An Alien Flower”.  I look forward to reading this and thank Buried in 
Print for her motivation and insight.  

Mel u

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

It's lovely to have company reading these stories: thanks for reading, Mel. This one has a number of surprisingly light touches given the stress and strain of the time (generally, the years following the war and, specifically, the holiday on the following day). I wonder how many times Uncle Theo has brought a "friend" to the office to "meet" his "youthful" and "modern" niece!