A Table in Paris

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Mavis's funeral

From my FB: I have just come from Mavis Gallant's funeral (there will be a memorial service in mid-March). There were about 50 people, a small procession at the Cimetiere Montparnasse, and a small roadside Catholic service. It had been pouring; the sun came vividy through the quince blooms and barren tree branches. Marilyn Hacker spoke, reading a John Donne poem, and Mary K Macleod, Mavis's literary executor, read some biblical verses. Some others of her friends spoke. The gathered sprinkled holy water on her coffin. The minister read the 23rd psalm and the Lord's prayer, both of which I knew by heart but did not as an atheist recite, and exhorted us to kindness. Pallbearers carried her coffin to the Péron family caveau and lowered it on ropes. Each of us then dropped in a long-stemmed white rose. I was surprised to see that the casket was perhaps 15 feet or more down; it knocked the wind out of me, this deep dark hole, this blonde casket with its river of white roses way at the bottom, and I started crying. I watched the cemetery workers struggle to put the lid on the grave, sliding it incrementally over a thick metal rod and with crowbars and fragments of wood, finally settling it into place. I could not bear this; it was hard not to anthropomorphize Mavis. I'm sure I was not alone in my urge to rescue her, to lift her in my arms and run on swift feet down Boulevard Edgar Quinet. Do something, do something, I longed to shout, but then it was too late, the lid was firm in its place. A man with a caulking gun sealed Mavis Gallant into the Earth. At last, bouquets of flowers were set into place, and Mary K gave us each a yellow rose to take away with us.

Jane Eaton Hamilton more than 9 years ago

Mavis Gallant - Stephen Henighan

"...Alice Munro, whose confected ironies often act as a form of emotional self-protection." Wow. Now there's an assumption for a university professor to make. And sadly patronizing, diminishing an otherwise pleasant article. Mind-reading doesn't interest me. Or perhaps Alice Munro has confessed this to him? Or is it the reader who undergoes "self-protection"? (Or perhaps irony sometimes gets one to the heart of an emotion.)

Alban Goulden more than 11 years ago

Mavis Gallant

So sad. Gallant and Cheever, both from The New Yorker, were foremost among my young-adult pleasures.

Michael Sinclair more than 11 years ago

Gallant's admirers

Lovely piece, but I think you underestimate how much she is appreciated by Canadian readers now.

Greg Terakita more than 11 years ago