Register Saturday | June 23 | 2018

The Day Mavis Met Mordecai

I'm reading my  new Granta (106), in which there's a long interview by Jhumpa Lahiri with Mavis Gallant. I have actually stopped halfway in to write this, because there's a point where she talks about when she first went to Paris, and left her hotel (and the left bank entirely) to get away from the ex-pats—in part, in particular, Mordecai Richler. She calls him a "bit of a brat;" talks about how he resented Paris because he couldn't speak French ("Though he came from Montreal, he couldn't say, 'Pass the salt.' He couldn't say anything."); and relays this anecdote of him walking up to her in a cafe and pulling a book out of her hands (an Elizabeth Bowen novel, one that I love, incidentally) and reading a bit of it out loud mockingly, then saying, "If you go on reading this crap you're never going to get anywhere."

Anyway: it's a great little tidbit from Montreal's lit past that most people here will likely miss. I have wondered, frankly, whether they knew/liked each other, and now I know.

You can watch a Q&A between Lahiri and Gallant here