Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Alice Munro’s “Lying Under the Apple Tree”

Whether and how a girl rode a bicycle mattered a great deal in the 1950s in southwestern Ontario, for the young Alice Munro.

2006; Vintage, 2007

“We lived just beyond the town limits, so if I showed up riding a bicycle—and particularly this bicycle—it would put me in the category of such girls. Those […]

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Alice Munro’s “Fathers”

For readers familiar with Alice Munro’s most recent collection, Dear Life, the title of this story will immediately recall “Night”, which she described as being “not quite” a story about her relationship with her father.

Vintage, 2006

“Night” is part of a group of four tales, which she feels are “the first and last — and […]

The pleasure of the new book

Oh, the overwhelming allure.

Past Orange Prize nominees

So many of us have seemingly endless older books on our TBRs.

Sometimes these are tightly defined (spreadsheeted phenomena, like this Virago project of mine) whereas others are loosely conceived (“I’m going to read more Victorian potboilers”).

But, despite this, more recently published books are a persistant distraction.

Even though […]

Alice Munro’s “The Wilds of Morris Township”

This Alice Munro story might serve as a sixteen-page synposis for why some high-school students came to hate the idea of reading Canadian authors.

McClelland & Stewart, 2006

If you weren’t raised on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books?

If you weren’t an obsessive listener to weekly episodes of Winter Without Salt read aloud by your third-grade teacher?

You might not […]

“Illinois” Alice Munro

The Laidlaws have left the Ettrick Valley in Scotland behind, that parish with “no advantages”, but the family members also have left behind “long, outspoken, sometimes outrageous letters, and detailed recollections” which have inspired Alice Munro to narrate the experiences of her ancestors.

McClelland & Stewart, 2006

But what readers of her fiction recognize […]

“The View from Castle Rock” Alice Munro

The title story in this collection follows “No Advantages” closely. It presents Old James the father, Andrew, Walter, and their sister Mary, Andrew’s wife Agnes, and Agnes and Andrew’s son James,”under two years old”, and recounts their experiences from “the harbor of Leith, on the 4th of June, 1818, [when] they set foot on board a ship […]

“No Advantages” Alice Munro

McClelland & Stewart, 2006

The View from Castle Rock was not one of my favourite Alice Munro collections. Although I rushed to read it upon publication, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Runaway. On rereading, I planned a different approach.

In the past, I read the collection simply as another of Alice Munro’s […]

“Working for a Living” Alice Munro

Many of the themes which resurface in Alice Munro’s fiction play an important role in “Working for a Living”.

2006; Vintage, 2008

One of the first which strikes readers is the question of town versus country, which plays such a predominant role in both Lives of Girls and Women and Who Do You Think […]

“The Bear Came Over the Mountain” Alice Munro

A good ways into the story, readers meet this proclamation: “You never quite knew how such things would turn out. You almost knew, but you could never be sure.”

It is perhaps as true about “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” as it is about Grant’s predictions about his relationships with women.

But this story […]

“Queenie” Alice Munro

Unsurprisingly, a story named for a main character is going to be preoccupied with names and identity.

It’s also the first thing readers observe Queenie saying to Chrissy, when she arrives in Toronto and is met at Union Station.

Her husband thinks it sounds like an animal’s name, so Chrissy is asked not to […]