Alice Munro, Short Story Writer, 1931–2024 - Latest Global News

Alice Munro, Short Story Writer, 1931–2024

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In an interview conducted after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013, Alice Munro recalled her earliest beginnings as a writer. As a little girl in Wingham, Ontario, she read Hans Christian Andersen’s dark story The little mermaid and was shocked by the story of a creature – a woman – who is painfully transformed for a love she can never have. “I thought she deserved better than death on the water,” Munro said. She created a new, happy ending: and so Munro’s creative life opened up to her.

In rural Canada — where her father was a fox and mink farmer and her mother was a former teacher who suffered from Parkinson’s disease — “women did most of the reading, women did most of the storytelling,” she said. Her creation was a private act. “I didn’t have to tell anyone.”

It is this sense of privacy, of a deep inner emotional mechanism, that makes Alice Munro’s short stories so enduring and compelling. And the way in which people, mostly women, are asked to distort their nature for the benefit of others remained a strong theme in her work.

your first collection, Dance of happy shadows, published in 1968, won the Governor General’s Literary Award, widely considered Canada’s Pulitzer Prize; her last, Love life, published in 2012. Across 14 collections set almost entirely in Ontario, it allowed readers into captivating lives that are anything but provincial. The Swedish Academy called her “a master of the contemporary short story” and noted her ability to “contain the novel’s entire epic complexity in just a few short pages.”

The Academy’s praise seems like a backhanded compliment: it seems to imply that the short story is a lesser form. Munro, like Chekhov, to whom she was often rightly compared, has proven that this is not the case. Let’s take the 1977s The beggar girl, the second story Munro published in the New Yorker. It is one of the stories about Rose, whose CV is loosely based on that of the author; It is set in Munro’s fictional town of Hanratty, which she made as much her own as William Faulkner made his Yoknapatawpha County – although Munro was never drawn to Faulkner and was inspired by other writers of the American South such as Flannery O’Connor and Carson McCullers and Eudora Welty.

Munro was part of the generation that created modern Canadian literature and was the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize (and only the 13th woman). © Reg Innell/Toronto Star/Getty Images

In this story, Patrick is a graduate student and Rose is a fellow at the university in London, Ontario; He falls in love with her after she describes a stranger grabbing her bare leg on the library shelf. The event is random, a little strange and is described in every detail. As the man runs away, Rose feels the shelves vibrate. It’s an unsettling beginning to a romance: Patrick’s love for Rose “had become a fixed, even angry idea for him.” Like The Little Mermaid, its characters are driven by forces beyond their control. In contrast to her childlike retelling of Andersen’s story, Munro moved away from happy endings and built rich, complex, and difficult worlds within so-called “normal” lives.

She described herself as a fairly normal housewife and wrote “in her free time.” Born Alice Laidlaw on July 10, 1931, she was the eldest of three children. Her first published story appeared in a student literary magazine while she was studying on a scholarship at the University of Western Ontario for two years. In college she met her first husband, Jim Munro, whom she married when she was 20. Together they founded Munro’s Books in Victoria in 1963 – an independent bookstore that is still going strong. But the marriage failed; In 1975, she and Gerald Fremlin, who also attended Western University, moved into the Huron County home where he grew up. For the rest of her life, this was her home and the place of her work.

Alice Munro was part of the generation that created modern Canadian literature and was the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize (and only the 13th woman). Three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award, twice winner of the Giller Prize, she pulled out her collection Too much luck in deference to Giller in 2009, who felt that a younger writer should have a crack. This year she was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for her entire work. Three daughters survive her; One of them, Sheila, is the author of the 2001 memoir Lives of Mothers and Daughters: Growing Up with Alice Munro.

Her compass looked small: it wasn’t. “Every life can be interesting,” she said. You just have to be there.” The first sentence of a Munro story astonishes the reader There. Their goals were clear. “I want my stories to move people,” she said. She wanted readers to be changed by her stories, and over the decades we have been – changed and enormously enriched.

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