Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Dear Life," by Alice Munro

Readers may remember that I (along with many, many others!) am a huge admirer of the Canadian short story writer Alice Munro. (As a former Canadian, I also take pride in her worldwide reputation.) Many critics and readers call Munro the greatest living short story writer writing in English, equaled only, perhaps, by the British William Trevor (whose stories I also greatly admire). Even those who don't read her books may have read her stories in The New Yorker, where she has often been published. Munro's new book, "Dear Life: Stories" (Knopf, 2012) shows us, once again, her greatness at portraying human nature. Munro is now lauded more than ever, perhaps partly because this new book provides intimations that it may be her last, or one of her last (she is 81 years old); specifically, a prologue to the last four stories in the book is titled "Finale" and states that "The final four works in this book are not quite stories. They form a separate unit, one that is autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact. I believe they are the first and last -- and the closest -- things I have to say about my own life" (p. 255). Although this statement does not say that she will stop writing stories completely, it has an elegiac tone. Let us hope that she will in fact continue to write for many years to come. I find myself wanting to say eloquent things about this book, and about Munro's writing, words that would show how amazing her work is, and how much it means to me, but I find that because so many others have written so much more eloquently about her, I hesitate to add my meager, inadequate words. Perhaps I will just refer readers to my blog entry of 7/22/10, "Ode to Alice Munro," and add that "Dear Life" only reinforces my love of her work.

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