Thanks for the Ride
I’m accustomed to thinking of Alice Munro as the chronicler of Lives of Girls and Women, so I was surprised to come upon a male narrator in “Thanks for the Ride”. Dickie is hanging out with his cousin, George, who is three years older, in Pop’s Cafe (can’t you just see it in the small lakeside town?), when he meets Adelaide, who suggests that they stop by Lois’ house and go for a drive.
Tricky, isn’t it. Because ultimately it is a story about girls and women afterall. “But I did not want to talk any more, having discovered another force in her that lay side by side with her hostility, that was, in fact, just as enveloping and impersonal. After a while I whispered: ‘Isn’t there some place we can go?’” But it’s not necessarily the kind of story that was commonly told about girls and women.
And the same thing could be said about this fifth story, which is about a woman who declares herself a writer, something that took more determination and initiative in that time.
“But here comes the disclosure which is not easy for me: I am a writer. That does not sound right. Too presumptuous; phony, or at least unconvincing. Try again. I write. Is that better? I try to write. That makes it worse. Hypocritical humility. Well then?
It doesn’t matter. However I put it, the words create their space of silence, the delicate moment of exposure.”
I think this might turn out to be one of my favourite stories — settling in with novels like Carol Shields’ Unless and Ursula Hegi’s Intrusions — but it’s a story with an edge. You don’t get to “I really wanted to murder him” without an edge, do you. (Do you have other favourite novels about writers?)
An Ounce of Cure
Many readers will understand how the narrator, who loved Martin Collingwood even before, fell harder for him when he took the role of Mr. Darcy in the stage production of Pride and Prejudice at school. And they’ll understand, too, how she had to hate Mary Bishop a little, for playing his Elizabeth Bennet. This frequently anthologized story was likely one of my first exposures to Alice Munro as a schoolgirl, but it wasn’t a favourite at the time; now I wonder if that’s not because it captures the banal heartbreak of adolescent crushes just-a-little-too-brilliantly. (Have you resented some stories for being just too good?)
“From this point on I have no continuous picture of what happened; my memories of the next hour or two are split into vivid and improbable segments, with nothing but murk and uncertainty between.”
Have you read any Alice Munro lately?
You can join in with Dance of the Happy Shades if you like:
Walker Brothers Cowboy; The Shining Houses; Images JAN19
Thanks for the ride; The Office; An Ounce of Cure (above)
The Time of Death; Day of the Butterfly; Boys and Girls FEB 16
Postcard; Red Dress – 1946; Sunday Afternoon FEB23
A Trip to the Coast; The Peace of Utrecht; Dance of the Happy Shades MAR2