Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness
Canada’s foremost storyteller once again demonstrates her tremendous gift
When Alice Munro preemptively withdrew herself from consideration for the Giller Prize — Canada’s biggest literary award — it was telling that no one called her out for hubris. Quite the opposite: critics lamented the fact that now she wouldn’t win her third Giller.
That kind of a reputation is hard to live up to, but with her latest collection, the 78-year-old Munro proves that Too Much Happiness deserves such high regard. Munro has always been known as an author who loves a shocking plot twist, and Too Much Happiness finds her pushing her characters harder than ever: two of these stories include triple-murders; there’s also cancer, adultery and a near-fatal fall. But though Munro is perhaps more gothic than ever in Too Much Happiness, that doesn’t mean she’s lost any of her trademark insight. “Dimensions,” featuring a husband who has murdered his three children, is a deep portrait of the wife who still needs him to help her confront the grief. “Fiction,” perhaps the lightest story in the collection, is the tale of a woman who finds she has become a character in a long-lost friend’s book. Her reaction to seeing her life portrayed by another is both utterly intriguing and true-to-life. That would be a good way to describe the majority of the work in Too Much Happiness — with it, Canada’s foremost storyteller has once again demonstrated her tremendous gift.