Posts Tagged ‘Alice Munro’
July 10, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
Was the community you grew up in pleased about your career?
It was known there had been stories published here and there, but my writing wasn’t fancy. It didn’t go over well in my hometown. The sex, the bad language, the incomprehensibility … The local newspaper printed an editorial about me: A soured introspective view of life … And, A warped personality projected on …
—The Art of Fiction No. 137, 1994
Happy birthday to Alice Munro. In this 1979 clip from Take 30, a Canadian talk show, Munro—who’s eighty-two today—discusses the less-than-warm reception her collection Lives of Girls and Women received in her native Huron County, where a conservative group argued that it should be expunged from twelfth-grade syllabi. She speaks here to Harry Brown (whose three-piece suit yours truly wouldn’t mind owning) about fighting the proposed ban.
This is the kind of talk show that’s all but extinct today, in which two unadorned, ordinary-looking people have an intelligent conversation without a studio audience, or a ticker scrolling beneath them, or a host of other distracting stimuli that have come to seem normal. But what’s more eye-opening is how little has changed since then. The controversies stalking literature in 1979 are almost identical to today’s bugbears: declining readership, increasing moral turpitude. A debate, in other words, about what literature should do and who it’s for.
“Many people don’t read much and don’t think books are very important anyway,” Munro tells the interviewer. And:
As far as I can tell from the talk of the people who are against the books, they somehow think that if we don’t write about sex, it will disappear, it will go away. They talk about preserving their seventeen-year-old and eighteen-year-old children, protecting them. Well, biology doesn’t protect them. They don’t need to read books.
It’s not clear whether Munro succeeded in stopping or overturning the ban, but apparently the events in Huron County “inspired the Book and Periodical Council of Canada to launch Freedom to Read Week, an annual celebration of freedom of expression.”
March 26, 2014 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize last year, which is neat and all, but what’s even cooler is that her face is going to appear on a five-dollar Canadian coin—an honor second only to having a New Jersey Turnpike rest area named after you.
- The world’s most expensive musical instrument: “a Stradivari viola, whose asking price will start at $45 million when it is offered for sale this spring.”
- If one loses the ability to speak, a prosthetic voice offers the chance to restore one’s vocal identity.
- What was on French television in the sixties? Michel Foucault and Alain Badiou discussing philosophy. Obviously.
- If you’ve got two left feet, scientists have done you a solid: they now know exactly which dance moves catch a lady’s eye. The Electric Slide is not among them, experts say.
December 9, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
October 21, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
- Citing health concerns, Alice Munro says she will not travel to Sweden to accept her Nobel in person.
- “For the first time I felt myself in the presence of a talent greater than my own.” The long, strange friendship of Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin.
- “People are messes, every one of us.” Editor Giancarlo DiTrapano talks Tyrant.
- For its sixtieth anniversary, the Crime Writers’ Association has asked its six hundred writer-members to choose the best crime novel of all time. Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Raymond Chandler fight it out.
- Speaking of hot competition, the ten most dramatic deaths in fiction.
October 10, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
“Well, I have no relationship to her. I’ve never met her. And as for her work, I came to it too late probably for it even to have been an influence, which fills me with despair. I am merely a big fan. She is a great artist, alive and among us, and still writing as well as she did at the start—if not better, which is really saying something, since if you look again at Lives of Girls and Women, her first book, you will see it is a masterpiece, not like any other first book I can think of offhand. (You will also find in it many of the elements of Love of a Good Woman and other later fiction—the obsession with drowning, the allure and menace of men, the erotic moment as narrative pivot and the glimpses of wickedness that only the young are able to act upon to save themselves; the middle-aged must attempt to endure, make do, compromised and complicitous, with what they know.) Her later fiction is quite bold structurally—its handling of time is fearless and satisfying and not to be imitated. She seems over and over again to be writing a kind of ghost story. She is also witty and cruel (that is, unblinking) and painterly. Although she writes of the provinces, she is the least provincial writer I can think of. I’m not sure that this is always understood about her.” —Lorrie Moore, the Art of Fiction No. 167
October 10, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
“Often, in about three quarters of what I do, I reach a point somewhere, fairly early on, when I think I’m going to abandon this story. I get myself through a day or two of bad depression, grouching around. And I think of something else I can write. It’s sort of like a love affair: you’re getting out of all the disappointment and misery by going out with some new man you don’t really like at all, but you haven’t noticed that yet. Then, I will suddenly come up with something about the story that I abandoned; I will see how to do it.” —Alice Munro, the Art of Fiction No. 137