[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from Douglas Gibson’s new book Stories About Storytellers: Publishing Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, Pierre Trudeau, and Others. They will run every Friday. The following is taken from the chapter on short story writer, Canadian, and Parisienne. Mavis Gallant.]
She has a formidable presence. She speaks in an accent that she says belongs to another era in Montreal, but to modern Canadian ears sounds English-influenced. She speaks with great, sibilant precision that can on occasion be mistaken for a hiss. As for her manner, with strangers she is such a reserved, dignified, and lady-like figure that she seems, metaphorically, to be wearing white gloves. Scores of journalists have come away from interviews with her, confessing that they felt intimidated.