Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories

I've officially fallen for Alice Munro. She's so articulate, writing beautifully about the complexity of ordinary lives. Plus she's Canadian. Plus she won the Man Booker Prize in 2009, with judge Jane Smiley remarking that "[h]er work is practically perfect. Any writer has to gawk when reading her because her work is very subtle and precise" (you can read Smiley's entire presentation of the award here). [Swoon!]

First I stumbled upon her newest collection of short stories, Too Much Happiness. That led me to a whole host of titles, so I dove into this 2001 collection. If you haven't read her, please--do.

Nina remembers her husband Lewis after his death by euthanasia:
from Comfort, p. 128: "They did get job, both of them, at the high school--though Nina gave up teaching a few years later, when Latin was phased out. She could have taken upgrading courses, preparing herself to teach something else, but she was just as glad, secretly, to no longer be working in the same place, and at the same sort of job, as Lewis. The force of his personality, the unsettling style of his teaching, made enemies as well as friends, and it was a rest, for her, not to be in the thick of it."

A retired professor is visiting his Alzheimer's stricken wife at the nursing home, where she has become romantic with a fellow resident, Aubrey. He recalls his own (and fellow professors') indiscretions throughout their marriage. I love the brevity and complexity of the last clause (talking about the wives).

from The Bear Came Over the Mountain, p. 302: "Scandals burst wide open, with high and painful drama all round but a feeling that somehow it was better so. There were reprisals--there were firings. But those fired went off to teach at smaller, more tolerant colleges or Open Learning Centers, and many wives left behind got over the shock and took up the costumes, the sexual nonchalance of the girls who had tempted their men."

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