I had a lovely gift from my in-laws. My mother-in-law took me to the Stanley Theatre the other evening to listen to the praise of Alice Munro. She knows I am a Big Munro fan. This was part of the Vancouver International Writer’s Festival.
Joseph Boyden Amit Chaudhuri, Alistair MacLeod, Elizabeth Strout, and Joan London offered their tributes to Aice Munro as did moderator Eleanor Wachtel. The three hours of discussion, that was recorded for CBC’s ‘Writers and Company,’ did not drag on one bit; how could it.
Each of the other writers offered up their own personal experiences with Alice Munro’s work, and with her, if they had the actual pleasure of knowing her beyond her written word.
As Eleanor Wachtel said,” If there is one living writer today who will be read in a hundred years, it is Alice Munro.” What a gift she has given us all, both readers and writers alike with her mastery of story, and rendering of tale. Thank you Alice Munro.
Elizabeth Strout (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2009 for her work Olive Kitteridge) imagined for the audience what she might say if she were to ever meet face to face, Alice Munro. She offered a heartfelt thanks, that I surely could not have emitted more, had I said it myself. But her ponderings about why she was so thankful for Munro’s work, got me thinking about what I would say, what I would tell.
And so, I would tell Alice Munro much of what she surely knows already, that her work is the intimate, the type you recall like a dream you thought up yourself, a story shared among neighbours, among sisters, with one’s self. Readers recall her stories like lived memories, of a life they could mistake as having been their own. Alice Munro knows her work affects people in this way–and she keeps doing it. What she does not know, and who knows if she ever will, that I named my principal character in my first collection of short stories for her, a prairie girl in the 1970s and 1980s who grows up, much like all of us do, and not a whole lot happens in her life, yet the drama of her life–to this growing child was dramatic–the way falling through the ice of the slough, the senseless burning of anthills, the alcoholic dreams of a father and the philandering bossiness of her cousin are dramatic.
It is in this way I have my own Alice… Alice in a Wonderland all of own making–from somewhere Saskatchewan–definitely not Moose Jaw–not quite. So, I lived with my little Alice and all her foibles for the two years that I constructed her tales, because of the love of the short story, because of the beauty of dramas where ‘nothing’ really happens, yet oh so much does.
Thank you, Alice Munro.