After using this Blog infrequently for the last couple of years, here is my latest idea for using this space – namely my Alice Munro project:
Alice Munro recently confirmed what she had hinted at over the last year, that the book, Dear Life, will be her last collection – that she is retiring from her work as a writer. I mourned this news, just as I will mourn Alice Munro’s passing, which is hopefully still many years away.
I love to read short stories; I study and teach the craft of the short story to my university students; and also work at writing my own short stories. I teach Sherwood Anderson, Anton Chekov, Nikolai Gogol, Katherine Ann Porter, Edith Pearlman, George Saunders, Janet Peery, Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Bass, Elizabeth Strout, ZZ Packer, Jhumpa Lahiri, but it is Alice Munro that most consistently reaches off the page and shakes me to the core. If I had to convey the beauty and power of the short story through the use of only one writer, that writer would be Alice Munro, and thus to ease grief over the loss of getting any new Alice Munro stories to read, I have decided to visit the past, to find Munro stories that I have never read, and so I pulled up her list of publications, and began to order the volumes missing from my collection. Per Wikipedia, her original short story collections are:
- Dance of the Happy Shades – 1968 (winner of the 1968 Governor General’s Award for Fiction)
- Lives of Girls and Women – 1971
- Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You – 1974
- Who Do You Think You Are? – 1978 (winner of the 1978 Governor General’s Award for Fiction; also published as The Beggar Maid)
- The Moons of Jupiter – 1982 (nominated for a Governor General’s Award)
- The Progress of Love – 1986 (winner of the 1986 Governor General’s Award for Fiction)
- Friend of My Youth – 1990 (winner of the Trillium Book Award)
- Open Secrets – 1994 (nominated for a Governor General’s Award)
- The Love of a Good Woman – 1998 (winner of the 1998 Giller Prize)
- Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage – 2001 (recently republished as “Away From Her”)
- Runaway – 2004 (winner of the 2004 Giller Prize) ISBN 1-4000-4281-X
- The View from Castle Rock – 2006
- Too Much Happiness – 2009
- Dear Life – 2012
I have read all the Alice Munro stories forward from Open Secrets, but have read few of the stories in the books published prior to that collection, and so have at least fifty new Munro stories waiting to be read, which is a delightful thing. I plan to pace these out, reading a story a day, likely sometimes less. I plan to read intentionally, to see what lessons on craft and writing I can learn through the deliberate reading and study of Munro, and I will document my reading and study here. Or at least that is the plan.
SPOILER ALERT – I.E. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. Unlike my other book reviewing, here on my blog, in Goodreads, or for places like Fiction Writers Review, I will make no attempt to avoid spoilers, and so any readers of my blog should be cautioned about that. Of course, one of the strengths of a short story is that it is almost impossible to spoil – what matters in a story is not what happened, but how and why something happened, what effect it had on the characters in the story, and what effect it had on you the reader.
If you like Munro, try William Trevor
Andrea Nolan said:
Felicia’s Journey by William Trevor is actually in my “To Be Read” pile, and I am looking forward to reading it. Do you have a favorite Trevor?
Any of his short story collections are good. Felicia’s Journey is excellent. Sinister but excellent
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