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

“What Do You Want to Know For?” Alice Munro

And, “Who Do You Think You Are?”

McClelland & Stewart, 2006

As readers approach the final tale in this collection, it seems appropriate to have it titled with a question.

Whatever might be resolved in the effort of creating a narrative in which to secure one’s ancestors, one could not help but have as many […]

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“Home” Alice Munro

McClelland & Stewart, 2006

Alice’s father has remarried, and Irlma has made many changes in the house.

“Irlma is a stout and rosy woman, with tinted butterscotch curls, brown eyes in which there is still a sparkle, a look of emotional readiness, of being always on the brink of hilarity. Or on the brink […]

“The Ticket” Alice Munro

The title of this story suggests a journey, travel and a destination. But the story itself focuses on the precursors to such events: the preparations and anticipation.

McClelland & Stewart, 2006

Nonetheless, “The Ticket” is preoccupied with the concept of movement, shifting position, moving from one zone to another (or, not).

There are delineations, and […]

“Hired Girl” Alice Munro

In Alice Munro’s first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, readers meet Alva in “Sunday Afternoon”.

Alva is the hired girl for the Gannetts, who expect that she will dutifully perform in their home and, then, travel with them later in the summer to their parents’ island in Georgian Bay.

McClelland & Stewart, 2006

[…]

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 […]

“Fathers” Alice Munro

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]