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

Friday, November 22, 2019

When We Were Nearly Young - A Short Story by Mavis Gallant - first published October 7, 1960 in The New Yorker

Buried in Print’s Mavis Gallant Project

When We Were Nearly Young - A Short Story by Mavis Gallant - first published October 7, 1960 in The New Yorker .  Included in the collection, In Transit as well as The Collected Short Stories of Mavis Gallant.

Mavis Gallant

April 11, 1922 - Montreal

1950 - moves to Paris

September 1, 1951- publishes, in The New Yorker, her first short story.  She would publish 116 stories in The New Yorker. 

February 18, 2014 - passes away in her beloved Paris

I am reading along as best I can, having access to only about half of her stories, with Buried in Print on their read through of the Short Stories of Mavis Gallant.

Here is how the story begins

“IN MADRID, NINE years ago, we lived on the thought of money. Our friendships were nourished with talk of money we expected to have, and what we intended to do when it came. There were four of us–two men and two girls. The men, Pablo and Carlos, were cousins. Pilar was a relation of theirs. I was not Spanish and not a relation, and a friend almost by mistake. The thing we had in common was that we were all waiting for money.”

A number of Gallant’s stories are about persons out of their home enviorment but still loosely tied to where they came from.  The narrator of the story spends three days a week going to places people might employ to send her money, such as the offices of American Express, Cook’s travel or the post office.  We dont learn who is sending her money.  The two men are also waiting for money, one gets an allowance and one works at a bank.  The two men seem to anticipate one day getting a decent amount. They live in an unregistered pension (ths owner is evading taxes).  As Buried in Print said in her post, stories set in Pensions bring to mind Katherine  Mansfield.

Nine years in future narrator has lost touch with her friends. All dreaded passing thirty.

There is a sad feel to this story, of people with but shallow attachments.  The narrator says she hates reading. They were poor, but in the way of poor college students from rich families playing at poverty.

The project will continue until September 2020, please feel free to join in

Ambrosia Bousweau
Mel u

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

Playing at poverty: that's an apt descriptor for sure. The whole story left me feeling restless and uncomfortable. Which is, I believe, the point. *sigh*