Saturday, March 29, 2014

Alice Munro

This Canadian is one of the best short story writers I’ve ever come across. Get to know her!
by Charlie Leck

Alice Munro was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature (“for the entire body of her work”). Until then I had never heard of her, but I committed myself to getting some of her short stories to read. Now, I am one of her biggest and most ardent fans. Her writing is really special and her stories are wonderful. At first, I might finish one of her stories and put it down and ask myself, “What was that?” Yet, the story stuck with me for hours and hours and I would keep thinking about it. Some stories seemed to be strange and mysterious, while others were simple, unvarnished and ordinary; yet they were always written brilliantly and it seemed they were always sticking with me. I just finished THE VIEW FROM CASTLEROCK and it was one of the most lovely and interesting books I’ve ever read. So, now I am looking for another of Munro's books. I haven’t been this intrigued with a woman writer since I went through all of Doris Lessing’s stuff back in the 70s.
Here's a pretty thorough bibliography of Alice Munro's work:

Dance of the Happy Shades and Other Stories (1968)
Lives of Girls and Women (1971)
Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (1974)
Who Do You Think You Are? (1978)
The Moons of Jupiter (1982)
The Progress of Love (1986)
Fried of My Youth (1990)
Open Secrets (1994)
The Love of a Good Woman (1998)
Queenie: A Story (1999)
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001)
Runaway: Stories (2004)
The View from Castle Rock (2006)
Away from Her (2007)
Too Much Happiness (2009)
Dear Life (2012)

Several collections of shorts stories (selected from the works above) have also been published:
Selected Stories (1996)
No Love Lost (2003)
Vintage Munro (2004)
Carried Away (2006)
Alice Munro’s Best (2008)
New Selected Stories (2011)

Carried Away was the first of her books that I read; and the very first story in it is as cryptic as one can imagine. After that, her stories came easier and I figured out that I wasn’t suppose to find deep meaning in them; and I stopped trying to find all the symbolism and innuendo. I just sat back and enjoyed the beautiful writing.
So far, The View from Castle Rock, is my favorite. I just loved it. It’s a group of short stories that can be read alone or together viewed as something of a novel. The book held me captive from beginning to end.


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