The Canadian writer Mavis Gallant passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 91. A frequent New Yorker contributor, Gallant published two novels and ten volumes of short fiction in her lifetime, one of which, Home Truths, won the Governor General’s Award. The Globe and Mail’s obituary describes her as having “a journalist’s nose, a cinematographer’s eye and a novelist’s imagination.” (Andrew Saikali wrote about Gallant for The Millions back in 2008.)
80 years ago Samuel Beckett’s publisher rejected his short story “Echo’s Bones” because it gave him the “jim-jams.” The 13,500-word piece on the afterlife was intended for More Pricks Than Kicks until his editor Charles Prentice claimed, “People will shudder and be puzzled and confused; and they won’t be keen on analysing the shudder.” Fortunately, it will finally be published by Faber and Faber on April 17.
“If we are looking for a single category to explain why women are better represented among best-selling authors today, the Literary/None category is our best candidate. Most best-selling books fall into this category, and its change over time closely matches the overall gender ratio, shifting from extreme bias in the 1980s to close to parity in the 2000s.” Rosie Cima has put together a beautifully thorough and thoughtful analysis of gender, best-seller lists, and publishing for The Pudding. For a more exegetical analysis, consider our own Sonya Chung‘s exploration of writing across gender lines.
Recommended Reading: Louise Erdrich’s new short story in The New Yorker, “The Big Cat,” which is about snoring among other things. “The women in my wife’s family all snored, and when we visited for the holidays every winter I got no sleep.” Deborah Treisman also interviewed Erdrich about the story. “I like the idea that this story reads like a fairy tale, but there is no moral at all, unless it’s Beware of Snoring Cats. Nothing I write ever has a moral.”