Books: Coin's Edge

FROM THE FIFTEENTH DISTRICT by Mavis Gallant Random House; 243 pages; $8.95

Mavis Gallant. The name has a romantic ring to it, suggesting a pretty girl, sunlight on English countryside and happy endings, possibly during the Battle of Britain. But no modern writer casts a colder eye on life, on death and all the angst and eccentricity in between. A Canadian, Mrs. Gallant has lived in France since World War II. There she produces her lapidary long stories and an occasional dazzling short novel, usually set in Europe. Her work appears regularly in The New Yorker. Canada seems about to give her...

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