Monday, June 02, 2008

Alice Munro's Free Radicals

When I'm skimming through the New Yorker or Tin House or any number of other journals with formidable-to-crazy good short fiction, I maybe read the first line and if it doesn't grab me, I go on to the next. Life's too short for a short story--or essay or novel--that doesn't sing.

This morning I roamed the New Yorker web site looking for a short story for my Gotham class and I found this one by Alice Munro. I could not stop reading.

She knocked my socks off with "A Bear Comes Over the Moutain," that was made into the movie, Away From Her. Incredible artistry. But I don't want to influence you. Read it. Tell me what you think.


Anonymous said...

I will tell you, flat out, that I found Ms. Munro's story unreadable. Ms. Munro should not take offense. I find most writers' writings unreadable save for two who are currently dead.
I do tell you, however, that I am currently reading Making Your Case by Justice Scalia who is currently alive.
What I thought might be an autobiography recanting his judicial views turned out to be a primer on legal writing.
One whole chapter is devoted to the use of contractions and is a hoot.
There is a lesson to be learned by the reader who is also a writer of fiction. Rivet your reader as a lawyer might rivet the judge with a strong and direct opening line. Contractions are permissable in written but not oral arguments. I could go on but I won't except to extend my apology to Ms. Munro and inform her that I have never - not once - been published in the New Yorker.

Anonymous said...

You couldn't? I guess I understand that. I didn't think I would be able to, because of the beginning, and then I printed it out and I got hooked. There are a couple of plot points in the story--one in particular--that I thought were genius. I'm so impressed with Munro's craft. An author who came on my show said Munro was a "muscular writer" and I've pondered that ever since and would agree that it is so.

Anonymous said...

I worship at the altar of Alice Munro. :-) You might also like another story of hers, Friend of My Youth. It packs such a wallop.