I prefer reading books of fiction for pleasure. I wish I could get as excited about non-fiction and sometimes I do; Atul Gawande, John McPhee, Daphne Merkin, Michael Pollan, Janet Malcolm snag me every time. However, fiction is my first love.
Currently on my digital bedside is Family Furnishings: Selected Stories 1995-2014 by Alice Munro. I don’t know how she does it but Alice Munro’s stories are always surprising and occasionally make me so anxious (“Oh, no! Don’t sneak into that house!”) I can barely continue reading. This may not sound like an endorsement, but it is. Munro constructs multi-level plots and shifting moods without being obvious; her stories flow. Alice Munro’s descriptions of people—how they look and how they relate to each other–are often startling, funny, and dead on.
From Family Furnishings: this physical description from the story “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage:” “Her teeth were crowded to the front of her mouth as if they were ready for an argument.”
From: “Vandals,” a story in a different collection, this description of a conversation months after a couple had met: “She asked him later if he had felt anything important at the time, and he said yes—he had realized that she was a person he could live with. She asked him if he couldn’t say wanted to live with, and he said yes, he could say that. He could say it, but he didn’t.”
Alice Munro is 84 years old now. She has won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Man Booker International Prize and many others. She lives near her birthplace in rural southwestern Ontario, Canada. I was happy to find a free photo of Munro to use for this blog. Doesn’t she look for all the world like a cross between Betty Crocker and the president of a local gardening club? I love the fact that behind that wonderful smile and under her straw hat resides a fierce intelligence and wicked imagination.