I just spent a great holiday on an Alice Munro book-a-thon. I was the only one in it, and it all started when I found two of her first short story collections at a garage sale (The Dance of the Happy Shades, and There’s Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You.) For me, reading short stories is a bittersweet pasttime. I read one (devour it really) stop, get a drink, take a bio break, and then think maybe I should wait to read another one. For the same reason you pass on the desert because the meal tastes so good lingering on your tastebuds. But, I can’t help it – I need to continue on. To the next one. Soon I have read the whole book, it is dark, and I am going to sleep on Alice Munro.
I have already told you I loved The View from Castle Rock (her new book). These older, first collections in the 60s were just as awesome. (One complaint, the cheap paperback of TSIBMTOTY had so many typos I was compelled to correct them with a pen. I’m speeding ahead a great story and I’m stopped by an in that is supposed to be an it, and so on) I’m reading Alice Munro at a cottage near Lake Huron – right in the middle of the part of Ontario she sets her early stories in. Alice was raised in Wingham (likely on a farm near Whitechurch if her stories are a little bit biographical). I love Whitechurch – you blink and you miss it on hiway 86. So, one of the pleasures of reading Alice’s stories is that she just names places like Wingham and Whitechurch like everyone knows where they are! The other great thing she does is to tell stories about ordinary people, and fairly ordinary events, but with a way that illuminates either human nature or human thought.
After being immersed in Alice Munro I feel a little punch drunk. I don’t want to come back to the big city and real life. I’d rather get sucked into the stories.
Guess where I’m going tomorrow? Alice Munro at the public library – here I come.