Alice Munro, Runaway
More sly, slow-dawning epiphanies from one of the greatest living North American writers
“The things that were wicked mysteries to others were not so to her and she did not know how to pretend about them,” writes Alice Munro about a teenager named Lauren in “Trespasses,” taken from Munro’s excellent 11th collection of short fiction Runaway. The quote encapsulates what’s made Munro probably the greatest living North American writer. These young Canadian girls and women from small towns flirting with the idea of joining the 20th century live in half-shaded worlds, but they experiment with the other half, to mixed results. If the fruit they taste isn’t exactly forbidden, it doesn’t bring them knowledge either.
Munro’s girls possess febrile imaginations; they make choices that usually leave their kin dumbstruck, and there’s almost always a cost. In “Passion,” a hotel employee accepts a ride to the hospital from the married son of the older couple she’s befriended, an alcoholic doctor. The protagonist of “Tricks” enjoys a brief night with a Slovenian clockmaker that her awakening libido transforms into something momentous. Munro, herself a writer who came to maturity near the end of the century, avoids grand epiphanies. Her stories begin with a whirl of incidents and images that gradually build, alert to marks of class distinction: these are women who pin extra money to their underwear in case they lose their purses. Similarly, you can’t read Runaway in one sitting; Munro’s filigrees reveal themselves when you’re doing the dishes or fighting with your parents, both of which her characters might recognize.
Copyright ï¿½ 2004 by Alice Munro. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2004 by BBC Audiobooks America. All rights reserved. Copyright exists on all recordings issued by BBC Audiobooks America. Any unauthorized broadcasting, public performance, copying or re-recording of such recordings in any manner whatsoever.