The Montana Stories

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An interesting method of collecting some of Katherine Mansfield’s short stories in a new way—chronologically, and only those written during a brief, highly-productive period of seven months in Switzerland in 1921. Includes several previously unpublished fragments and some slightly cheesy stories she wrote for The Sphere magazine just to pay the bills. My favorite of her stories is among these—At the Bay—and the children in that story show up again in The Doll’s House, a tale where the sisters (Kezia, Isabel, Lottie) receive a gorgeous doll house and invite everyone in their school in pairs of two to see it except, cruelly, the poorest girls in school; Kezia sneaks them in to see it and is roundly scolded. The Garden Party was written during this hectic productive period, too, and those children in it show up elsewhere in Her First Ball, written earlier in the month; strangely they all seem to be named after characters in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (Meg, Jose, Laura, Laurie).

One previously unread piece was the unfinished A Married Man’s Story, with deadly precision about a writer’s process:

Curious! Before I wrote it down, while it was still in my head, I was delighted with it. It seemed to express, and more, to suggest, just what I wanted to say. But written, I can smell the falseness immediately and the… source of the smell is in that word ‘fleet.’ Don’t you agree? Fleet, grey brothers! ‘Fleet’. A word I never use. When I wrote ‘wolves’ it skimmed across my mind like a shadow and I couldn’t resist it. Tell me! Tell me! Why is it so difficult to write simply—and not only simply but sotto voce, if you know what I mean? That is how I long to write. No fine effects—no bravura. But just the plain truth, as only a liar can tell it.