In “Marrakesh”, Dorothy wonders: “What is there here that is not being told?”
She sets herself to figuring it out. “She had had a great deal of experience listening to the voices of children who were leaving things out.”
But the thing is, in Alice Munro’s stories, it’s not just children who leave things out. Uhn uh.
It’s not just a random choice for the title’s collection: all sorts of things have been left out.
Whether it’s Eva and Carol in “The Found Boat”, or the narrator of “Tell Me Yes or No”, these stories are about what isn’t known, what isn’t understood, when choices are made (even made by not making them).
“Love is not in the least unavoidable, there is a choice made. It is just that it is hard to know when the choice was made, or when, in spite of seeming frivolous, it became irreversible. there is no clear warning about that.” (From “Tell Me Yes or No” )
Some characters read The Magic Mountain and Remembrance of Things Past; other characters struggle with guilt and regret and spend lifetimes trying to forget the past.
People die in car accidents; a swath of trees is cut down due to disease. Unexpectedly open spaces change the perspectives of the characters nearby.
“She believed then, without having to inquire or think about it, that Jeanette was in some important way a continuation of herself. This was not apparent any longer; the connection had either broken or gone invisible. Dorothy looked down for some time from her bedroom window at her granddaughter’s spare brown body, as if it were a hieroglyph on her grass.”
A woman’s shape, lying in the sun: it’s a simple sign. But if it’s a hieroglyph, there’s room for interpretation. That’s the part of reading Alice Munro that’s so much fun.
Other stories in this collection, chatted about here:
Munro’s Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You (1974)
Something I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You; Material SEPT1
How I Met My Husband; Walking on Water; Forgiveness in Families SEPT2
Tell Me Yes or No; The Found Boat; Executioners; Marrakesh (above)
The Spanish Lady; Winter Wind; Memorial; The Ottawa Valley SEPT4