Saturday, October 28, 2006

Alice Munro

On our CSI travels, we drove through Clinton, Ontario, which is home to Doc, who had given us some restaurant recommendations, though he pointed out we probably would not find the restaurants open on a Sunday (which seemed astonishing to me but was true). Clinton is also home to the writer I suspect I think I find the most satisfying of all those I read, Alice Munro.
The constellations collided this morning as both major local newspapers published interviews with Munro, one here, and one here, each of them conducted at one of the restaurants Doc had recommended, which we have yet to enter.
I am not prone to tears but each of them caused those to appear in my eyes.
From the former interview, I was blubbering at:
Almost 50 years after her mother's death, Munro finds her own teenaged scorn for her ambitious mother a “shame of my life.” She is appalled that she was not grateful for her mother's attempts improve the family income. “My mother had all the instincts that would have made us prosper. But my feelings were so intensely private and protective of dignity. Ha!

And I actually only ever slightly flirted with contempt for my parents; but that flirtation still hurts! Lovely it remains so important to her in her 70s.
I suspect also that the following passage in the latter interview affected me, while it has no direct connection to my life, but certainly does to many people I know:

The stern code of conduct she was born to did not value enterprise, wealth, comfort, or higher education that might cause you to "put on airs" or rise above your station.

"Poverty was a badge of honour in my family and there was a kind of laughter about somebody, say, who got an indoor bathroom put in. It showed a lack of self-sufficiency. Same with people who bought a new car. All that is gone now."

She sees her early environment, which became the source of her artistry, as being comprised of a mass of seething, suppressed urges.

"I was brought up to think that the most important thing is not to make a fool of yourself, not to expose yourself and, of course, I wound up exposing my whole life."

And I want to thank her for that exposure!


At 11:19 PM, Blogger rondi said...

I can't say I think she's a great writer, but I certainly enjoyed the short story, "How I Met My Husband." Very clever stuff. I read it in Grade Nine and it stayed with me.


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