From the back cover. "When Mary Ladd Gavell died in 1967 at the age of 47, she had never published a story." At her death, she was the managing editor of the journal, PSYCHIATRY, which published one of the stories in their journal. They recalled her scribbling during her lunch hours. John Updike included it in the BEST STORIES OF THE CENTURY. The stories in this collection are wonderful. Original, succinct, unusual. "Rotifer" is the one Updyke chose but he could have chosen any of them. I loved "The Swing" where a mother is able to revisit her son's youth at night on the swing he played on.
I wrote about this volume in 2015...she was an example of what excessive modesty denies the reading public. As I also noted then, '"The Rotifer" was an excellent tripartite metaphor for the difficulty, to say the absolute least, in attempting to aid others in their lives, and somehow Martha Foley was made aware of its publication in the journal, and liked it enough to reprint in The Best American Short Stories 1968; in going through the volumes in the course of editing The Best American Short Stories of the Century in 1999 (or, more likely, in reading the galleys of what the series editor had provided for him from the volumes), John Updike tapped "The Rotifer" for inclusion in that latter volume, so every blurb and review writer dutifully notes that Updike "discovered" the Gavell story, a feat somewhat similar to Discovering a donut in a box of donuts. Foley's not mentioned, because why would we? None of the other stories had been published until this book appeared in late summer, 2001, just in time for a certain tragedy in NYC, and the often less remarked-about corresponding ones in Pennsylvania and Virginia, to capture most chattering-class attention.'
Oh, this sounds really interesting, Patti. And what's particularly interesting is that so few people even knew she was a fiction writer.
Early mornings will do this to you...the link for my Gavell review:
Good morning, I've posted three more this week. The latest is: https://casualdebris.blogspot.com/2022/12/casual-shorts-isfdb-top-short-fiction_27.html
Excellent, Mr. Babics...Mr. House jumped back in thus, too:
As always, thanks, Patti!
Thanks, Patti. That is the second new (to me) author I've added to my list of books to get this morning.
Marisa Silver is a very interesting case to me. She is the daughter of the late Joan Micklin Silver, who directed HESTER STREET and CROSSING DELANCEY among others, including the very good television adaptation of Fitzgerald's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" (1976). The daughter dropped out of college, got into documentaries, and made an award-winning film, OLD ENOUGH, at 23. But after directing three more movies (all of which seem to have had mostly mediocre reviews), she returned to graduate school (in her late 30s) to become a short story writer. Her first collection, BABE IN PARADISE, was published in 2001. It grew on me as it went along when I read it a couple of months ago. She then wrote a couple of novels and then published a second collection, ALONE WITH YOU (plus several more novels). I am much more impressed (so far) with this second collection. "Leap" and "Three Girls" are both very good.
I'm also reading Amy Hempel's third collection, which, despite rave reviews, I am not enjoying as much as the earlier stories.
Funny how often it is the earlier stories that appeal to us. Certainly the case with Alice Munro for me.
My review for today went up at 1 AM at https://kevintipplescorner.blogspot.com/2022/12/short-story-wednesday-review-what-are.html
Jeff, I felt the same about the third collection. Maybe I too read her books too close together, but I don't think I finished it.
OK, downloaded the Gavell from the library.
Patti, this sounds very good and unusual. I used to think I liked longer short stories, now I have switched to preferring the shorter ones. I will looks for a used copy at Abebooks.
I keep thinking of her scribbling away on her lunch hour. I wonder if she ever tried to publish or they were like a diary.
I suspect, without too much basis (I'll have to dig out my copy and see what they chose to say about this, I have no clear memory), that she thought they were too odd for the likes of SATEVEPOST and REDBOOK, and it wouldn't be worth the effort to place them with little magazines. Or perhaps she meant to get to it eventually. It might well've dissuaded her to pick up a few rejection slips from THE NEW YORKER or even PARIS REVIEW and think to herself, this isn't what I'm writing for, to submit to other editors with more capricious criteria than ours. I can guess they were at leas a release valve for the daily grind at the journal. More than enough ego there (I saw enough of that at the ASPRS journal when I was assistant editor/publication sales manager, and photogrammetry and remote sensing isn't as "squishy" a science, craft and/or art as psychiatry). (Alice, MD Psychiatry, sitting next to m, says I might be onto something.)
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