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

“Family Furnishings” Alice Munro

Alfrida’s apartment is crowded.

“’I know I’ve got far too much stuff in here,’ she said. ‘But it’s my parents’ stuff. It’s family furnishings, and I couldn’t let them go.’

The story about her parents, the loss of her mother, the other family with whom she visits only half-heartedly after she has moved to the [...]

“Floating Bridge” Alice Munro

Jinny has been standing on shifting ground.

Expectations are thwarted: these are times of transformation.

This was true, too, in “Gravel” and in “Oh What Avails”.

But there she is: the space in which she is standing shifts both literally and metaphorically.

Things have been all-a-shift for some time now.

Readers have the detailed [...]

“Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” Alice Munro

In playing the game, a girl writes the name of a boy beside her own name, crosses out the letters in common and counts off the various states of being: ”Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage”.

This is what matters: her relationship with a man.

And, reading it that way, it seems to be a progression, but [...]

“Before the Change” Alice Munro

The story begins with conflict, the televised debate between Kennedy and Nixon. But “Before the Change” considers other conflicts, closer to home, closer to the heart.

“What is that expression? It’s as if he’s got a list of offenses both remembered and anticipated and he’s letting it be known how his patience can [...]

“Rich as Stink” Alice Munro

In “Save the Reaper” and “The Children Stay” readers are directed to wonder what young children remember of their parents’ shenanigans, but in this story readers inhabit Karin’s perspective.

Karin is certainly old enough to actively observe and contemplate the events unfolding around her (although from a girl’s perspective, so although she is maturing, [...]

“The Children Stay” Alice Munro

As with the earlier stories in this collection, readers are cast back in time: by thirty years in “The Children Stay”.

Readers find themselves on the east coast of the Island, Vancouver Island, but the exact location of the cottage is reminiscent of the way in which the Maitland River flows into the Goderich harbour, [...]

“Save the Reaper” Alice Munro

“Daisy was barely three and could not understand what was going on.”

Because there is something going on. Something that Daisy, at three years old, could not understand.

This is where the story begins, from a future vantage point, when 60-something Eve is looking back at the afternoon in which something happened.

Eve is re-constructing [...]

“Cortes Island” Alice Munro

One wonders if the “little bride” would have sat with the Monicas on the beach in “Jakarta”. Would she, in the eyes of Kath and Sonje, inhabit the model of femininity that the Monicas represent? Or would they encourage her to join them behind the logs?

McClelland & Stewart, 1998

I think they would [...]

“Jakarta” Alice Munro

“Give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days.” So said Virginia Woolf.

McClelland & Stewart, 1998

And although Kath and Sonje are not writing books [...]

Cats and Other E-encounters (Fifth Day, thanks to Found Press)

Later last year, I was invited to participate in a conversation between a number of readers who enjoy short fiction: Steven W. Beattie, Alessandra Ferreri, Andrew Wilmot, Chad Pelley and Steph VanderMeulen.

The conversation appears here, if you’d like to check it out, but what you won’t see at Found Press is the mad erruption of scribbling that erupted in [...]