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

Mazo de la Roche’s Morning at Jalna (1960)

Although the last of the Jalna books written, Morning at Jalna is only the second in the sequence.

It is set while the civil war is raging in the southern United States, and readers are immediately informed that the Whiteoaks are sympathetic to the southerners.

In school, during the 1970s and the 1980s, I was […]

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The First Jalna Story: Meeting Adeline

In 1944, Mazo de la Roche published The Building of Jalna, nearly twenty years after she began to work with the Whiteoak family on the page. The beginning grew out of the middle, you might say.

Jalna was actually written first, begun in 1925 and published in 1927: the fifth in the sequence of the […]

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How Much Happiness, Really

Is it too much? Or, just enough. What am I to make of this final story in my Alice Munro reading project. (I read her last collection, Dear Life, in 2012.)

While rereading Too Much Happiness, I was constantly aware of the references to being happy, to happiness, in the stories.

Straight away, in the […]

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“Wood” Alice Munro

Strangely enough, although I read this story twice earlier this year as well, when I scanned the table of contents I could not place it.

Planning to reread for a third time this morning, I had no idea; it wasn’t until the talk of the truck and Roy’s need to gather the wood sooner than expected, that I […]

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“Child’s Play” Alice Munro

On the list of 10 Perfect Alice Munro sentences, recently selected by CBC, this is the first: “Every year, when you’re a child, you become a different person.”

It begs the question, “When does one stop becoming somebody new every year?”

Perhaps after an event like the incident described in this story, which isn’t shared with […]

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“Some Women” Alice Munro

Unsurprisingly, “Some Women” offers readers a panoply of images of womanhood.

It begins by hearkening back to an earlier time, when “girls wore waist cinches and crinolines that could stand up by themselves”.

But then locates the narrator as being so old that even she is amazed by the number of years that have passed, […]

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“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 […]

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“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 […]

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“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, […]

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