Dear Life: A Brief Guide to Alice Munro

Alice Munro is a Canadian, Nobel-Prize-winning author of over a dozen short-story collections. She is the first Canadian author to win the prestigious award

Brett Easton Ellis was not too happy when she won

Munro was born in Wingham, a rural town in Southern Ontario, Canada.  The region, Southern Ontario, has been the setting for many of her stories So has British Columbia Munro Studied English and Journalism at The University of Western Ontario 

Munro’s main influences include: Russian Playwright and Short Story Writer Anton Chekhov “And if an artist decides to declare that he understands nothing of what he sees — this in itself constitutes a considerable clarity in the realm of thought, and a great step forward.”

New Zealand Author Katherine Mansfield “The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody’s fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind.”

American Author Eudora Welty “It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass.”

A Short Note on her Short Stories

– Her stories are often Bildungsromans, brief tales of moral and emotional formation first popularized by German novelists.

– Munro’s plots are relatively basic and simply told. They are not melodramatic, but familiar.

– Munro likes using small towns as settings, as minor events and minor characters hold higher significance

– A major aspect of her fiction is the difference between history and tall-tales, accurate accounts and gossip. The stories within Munro’s stories are metamorphic

She Published her first short-story collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, in 1968.

She Won Canada’s Governor General’s Prize for it.

What Munro Can Teach You About Writing: 1. Astonish with every sentence “I want the reader to feel something is astonishing. Not the ‘what happens,’ but the way everything happens. These long short story fictions do that best, for me.”

2. Memory is a Key Component “Memory is the way we keep telling ourselves our stories – and telling other people a somewhat different version of our stories.”

3. Stay Close to your Work “Few people, very few, have a treasure, and if you do you must hang onto it. You must not let yourself be waylaid, and have it taken from you.” 4. You need a capacity for empathy

“In twenty years I’ve never had a day when I didn’t have to think about someone else’s needs. And this means the writing has to be fitted around it.”

5. The World is Complex. Portraying it is an endless pursuit.  “The complexity of things — the things within things — just seems to be endless. I mean nothing is easy, nothing is simple.”

…And Brett Easton Ellis Later Plead Ignorance

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