left Budapest where she was born in 1956 to live in Canada. She has
authored five books of poetry, and worked as a journalist from 1978 to
2008, when she began devoted her time to her poetry and fiction. She is
currently at work on a sixth volume of poetry and a second short story
collection. She is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada and the
League of Canadian Poets. She teaches at Niagara College in Welland,
Ontario where she currently lives.
with Eva Tihanyi
"You don’t quite know
what happens. You meet Gillian’s eyes and are suddenly overcome with
giddiness, can’t resist commenting on the jubilant cherries, their
lusciousness, their heat, their sweet red darkness. Courvoisier. The
sensual French rolls off your tongue like a purr. I prefer Courvoisier.
You pause. On my cherries."
Reviewed by Michelle Reale.
Tihanyi’s fiction is
mainly focused on the often tumultuous state of women’s relationships
to men . Reaching back in time to the famous artists and painters who
used women’s bodies for both their art and pleasure and coming right
into the present, Tihanyi deftly shows how women navigate the rough
terrain and put up a fight. She paints her own portraits of the desires
of men and women operating at cross purposes, often with heartbreaking
But Tinhanyi has not been all one-sided here. These are not stories of
bad, bad men and good, good women, but rather a glimpse into how human
nature operates, often by rote. We are what we think we are, and we
behave as we are expected to.
In Green is the Most Difficult Color,
the artist, presumably Picasso, seduces the young girl who makes a
delivery to his studio. She was warned by her father to "be careful"
but is taken in by the essence of who he was: a man and a famous artist
at that. They size one another up:
He stared back. We were both bold, I fuelled by innocence, he by its
opposite. I was tall for my age and fair, my adolescent awkwardness
camouflaged by an unapologetic, unflagging curiosity. Even back then I
looked lie in the eye. I must have been a surprise to him, though, the
blonde hair, the summery green dress, the bright cherry earrings (my
In these thirteen stories, we meet both the famous and the nameless as
they engage themselves in dedication to work, try to live up to an
ideal of who they should be and finding the perfect person to love. The
women in these stories often find satisfaction with one another,
turning their backs on what society expects of them and the men who
seem to thwart every one of their efforts to fine their own place in
In Tihanyi’s world, though, even satisfaction comes at a
price, which says more about the inherent dangers in simply living as a
woman than it does any particular ideology she set out to exert on the
reader. Even her scenarios from past time exemplify universal themes
that anyone, on either side of the divide, would be able to relate to.
is a well known scenario, repeated hundreds of times in the life of a
master, but in Tihanyi’s deft hands, we see the scene through the eyes
of the girl, in retrospect, with remorse, but only a touch of
bitterness. Perhaps that is what makes these stories so satisfying: she
does not set up staunch polarities between the sexes, engages in no
real polemics here. Instead, she paints her own portraits of the
realities inherent in women’s lives’ and the men, for better or for
worse, they either run from or make their peace with situations as they
are. The character Meg, in Hemingway
and the Buddha states it plain:
"Everything is a matter of degree, she thinks. How badly you burn, what
you settle for, what you are willing to give up."