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

“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”.

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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.

[…]

“Messenger” Alice Munro

When I began rereading The View from Castle Rock, I stumbled. It had not been a favourite and my return was not an easy one.

I wondered if this had something to do with my personal response to the idea of expecting words to hold losses. I had lost a friend recently and I was […]

“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 […]

“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

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“Lying Under the Apple Tree” Alice Munro

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 […]