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Though I am skeptical of awards, things like the Oscars or Emmies and even the Nobel Prize for some of its more questionable honors or honorees (IMHO of course), I was delighted with the awarding of the 2013 Nobel Prize for literature to Alice Munro.
Her stories–ashamedly, I’ve only scratched the surface–portray everyday people from anytown North America. I say North America, though as a Canadian writer her settings are undoubtedly Canadian, they are a universal place. In these small towns, people go about their day-to-day existence until interrupted by something seemingly ordinary. The tension running below the surface, often from the very first sentence, promises to transform the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Ms. Munro crafts her stories in words and a language palpable to readers from all walks of life and all manner of backgrounds and origins. In the lead story to “Runaway”, she writes of the “…leaves overhead sending down random showers even in those moments when there was no actual downpour from the sky and the clouds looked like clearing.” We’ve all experience those moments, but, a few pages later, we’re catapulted into a scene as far from normal as it can be. “The fog had thickened…transformed itself into something spiky and radiant. First a live dandelion ball, tumbling forward, then condensing itself into an unearthly sort of animal, pure white, hell-bent, something like a giant unicorn, rushing at them.” It is these juxtapositions that draw us in with the familiar then turn on us and beg us to reach to understand. Simple and complex. A joy to read.
Unfortunately for her public, I read that at age 82, Ms. Munro claims to have written her last stories. I imagine there are many more bottled up in her head, stories that only she will know, both simple and complex.
I was unable to find an official website, but Alice Munro does have a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alicemunroauthor