I love Ms Munro’s stories, always based in the same Canadian regions and following the lives of every day men and women. Although the stories may seem deceptively simple, they are actually multi-layered, digging deep into the thoughts, desires and limitations of their characters, switching back and forth between past and present, and sometimes working chronologically backwards through a life.
Many short stories I read fade from my memory the moment I read the last word, but Ms Munro’s characters stay with me long afterwards, and I recall scenes or feelings from her stories.
Still, as much as I’ll miss her new stories, I can’t help being pleased for Ms Munro, too. Why should writing be different from other professions? If an author wishes to lay down his or her pen and enjoy some of the pursuits that have been difficult to follow up until that moment, why shouldn’t she?
Earlier this month, I read Munro’s fantastic interview with The New York Times . I learned some interesting details that many writers might find of interest, too:
- Ms Munro didn’t publish her first collection until the age of 37, in 1968. She wasn’t well-known outside of Canada until her stories began appearing in The New Yorker in the 1970s, and only in the mid-1980s did she enjoy international fame.
- For those who believe authors need their own office space, Alice Munro never had one. Her husband, recently deceased, was the editor of The National Atlas of Canada, and had a home office. But Munro always wrote from a tiny desk in the corner of the dining room.
- From someone who has so expertly mastered the craft of writing short stories, I was surprised to read that it used to trouble her that she didn’t write novels, and therefore, believed she wouldn’t be taken as seriously.
- Growing old, a topic she writes about in many of her stories, no longer worries her. “There’s nothing you can do about it, and it’s better than being dead.”
A very happy retirement to Canadian writer Alice Munro!