I’ve heard and read a great deal of praise for Alice Munro, and so I had her in the back of my mind. Usually I have a habit of writing down author’s names on small scraps of paper and losing them for a few years. On my last rummage shopping trip I happened to see two collections of her short stories, Runaway, and The Progress of Love; so I picked them up, and have finally just finished reading them. I think I am a little disappointed. The stories were surely beautifully written. The protagonists were all women, in ordinary lives. They were perfectly drawn and photo-real. The stories were mostly set in small Canadian towns that reminded me of the small Midwestern towns I grew up near. There was a clarity and an unfulfilled quality about each of the women. Perhaps I read them too quickly, or too close together, but they seemed to blend together a little, as if there were really only a few characters stretched out with assumed names into all the stories. I was also strangely reminded of A. S. Byatt – not exactly in writing style – Munro is a craftsman that Byatt certainly isn’t – but maybe in perspective? Her female characters seem to share this distance from their own lives. And an clinical attitude about sex. I mean she writes about passion, but without emotion. Maybe it is only a timeframe similarity, as I get the impression that the women in both authors’ work are from the same decades. I do want to read her full length novels. The short story format usually leaves me a little disappointed. There is so little resolution in a short story, and so little time to get to know the people in it.
(I also posted this on myspace- http://blog.myspace.com/gwendyphx - I think I am going to make this site just for books)