I wish that I could introduce the narrator of the last story, “Bardon Bus”, to Prue.
I like to imagine them sitting together in a cozy neighbourhood bar — nothing fancy, rather the sort of bar to which people go to be heard rather than to be seen — in a corner booth, on a quiet weekday night.
They would be anxious at first, for blind dates arranged by readers are not to be trusted.
But I think they would become good friends.
So much so that, with time, they will be spending holidays together, travelling as far away as Australia or New Zealand, become closer than sisters.
Sometimes they will speak dismissively of Alex and Gordon, reminisce about their younger years, when they made different kinds of choices.
But, in my imagined scenes, mostly they no longer think of the strings of memories that have haunted them for so long.
Instead, they wonder at the women that they used to be, at how disappointment and loneliness overshadowed every breath they took.
But “Prue” begins and ends with Gordon, with Gordon’s house.
(It’s the shortest Alice Munro story that I can remember reading, but all five pages are preoccupied by Gordon and by Prue-and-Gordon.)
“She presents her life in anecdotes, and though it is the point of most of her anecdotes that hopes are dashed, dreams ridiculed, things never turn out as expected, everything is altered in a bizarre way and there is no explanation ever, people always feel cheered up after listening to her….”
Just as “Bardon Bus” unfolds in a series of scenes, Prue presents her life in anecdotes, when in company.
But in “Prue”, readers simply meet Prue in a single scene, one which the reader suspects remains untold.
“Prue” is not the kind of anecdote that one gives voice to; it is the kind of anecdote that one puts away in the dark of a cupboard and tries to forget.
Some writers (like Anita Brookner) seem to gravitate towards stories about women alone, but so many of Alice Munro’s stories seem to be about women who share company with a man but who are, nonetheless, alone.
Prue needs a good friend. And I? I am but a reader.
Note: This is part of a series of posts on Alice Munro’s stories, beginning with with Dance of the Happy Shades, Lives of Girls and Women, Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You and Who Do You Think You Are? (The Beggar Maid). I aim to read through her work to date. She is one of my MRE authors.
The next in The Moons of Jupiter is “Labour Day Dinner”; one story will be discussed on each Thursday. Please feel free to join in, for the series, or for a single story.