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

“Face” Alice Munro

“You think that would have changed things?” “The answer is of course, and for a while, and never.”

In interview with Eleanor Wachtel, Nick Hornby discusses the “problem of being divided being two worlds” saying that many of us have a version of this in our own lives.

This is true for the narrator of this […]

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“Free Radicals” Alice Munro

As one of the shorter stories in this volume, I was inclined, at first pass, to presume it was a simpler story. Its ending seemed to underscore this impression.

Without going into detail, the story has the kind of resolution which could serve as the sole focus of discussion, in terms of what Nita actually concealed […]

“Deep-Holes” Alice Munro

So many of the risks in “Deep-Holes” are either averted or declared meaningless.

“Sally packed devilled eggs—something she hated to take on a picnic, because they were so messy.”

Nobody ate the devilled eggs anyway, so it didn’t matter how messy they were.

“Ham sandwiches, crab salad, lemon tarts—also a packing problem.”

The tarts […]

“Wenlock Edge” Alice Munro

1648 Henfryn Street and 363 Carlisle Street: “Wenlock Edge” feels so vivid that one can hardly resist keying in the significant addresses to see what appears on the digital map.

These addresses do not actually exist in London, Ontario. But there is a Henfryn Line which runs north-south, just east of Clinton, Ontario. And there is a town called Carlisle, […]

“Fiction” Alice Munro

Is it something like a triangle? With happiness, unhappiness and love arranged with an equal distance between each point?

Perhaps. Certainly there are triangles in “Fiction”, shifting alliances and fractures.

Love triangles. Happiness triangles.

Just enough. Too much.

The kind of happiness discussed in “Fiction” is different from that which Doree/Fleur muses upon in “Dimensions”.

[…]

Mark Anthony Jarman’s Knife Party at the Hotel Europa (2015)

A book-length demonstration of propulsive prose.

This is the word that I wrote in capital letters, in the margins of my reading diary about Mark Anthony Jarman’s Knife Party at the Hotel Europa (2015), but then I wondered if I had subconsciously (deliberately, even!) lifted it from the cover.

It sounds like a word one might see […]

“Dimensions” Alice Munro

Things that you can slip between.

They are often ‘new’ in nature.

Perspectives transform.

If I was playing $30,000 Pyramid, I might think such things, in response to the idea of ‘dimensions’.

At the heart of Alice Munro’s “Dimensions”: a woman who is fundamentally altered, facing a ‘new’ future, slipping between layers of meaning,  transforming.

[…]

“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 […]

“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 […]