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Alice Munro Wins 2014 Nobel Prize For Literature

alice-munro-friend-of-my-youth-small Alice Munro, 82, won the Nobel Prize for literature today, honoring 45 years of critical acclaim and fan adoration. The Nobel Prize Permanent Secretary called Munro “the master of the short story” in what may be the shortest, and for Munro, the sweetest, press release in literary history. The Swedish Academy had a difficult time getting a hold of Munro to tell her about her win, they tweeted:

When they finally reached her for a phone interview, Munro said, “It is wonderful for me, it is wonderful for the short story.”

“It just seems impossible,” she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “It seems just so splendid a thing to happen, I can’t describe it. It’s more than I can say.”

Munro’s first short story collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, was a hit when she published it in 1968, and won Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Fiction. She has since published 13 more story collections.

Personally, I read a lot, and always have. There is little I enjoy more than a well-written short story. I write entirely nonfiction, however, and have incredible respect for anyone who can master fiction, which is something I don’t feel capable of doing and admire so much when it’s done well. (I’m also a little jealous of people who can do something that I believe I am just really terrible at every time I try, I admit it.)

Even though I enjoy them, I feel like I’ve read shamefully few short stories, compared to all of the other fiction I’ve read in my lifetime. Yes, I’ve read Poe. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman continues to affect me more than most things I’ve read in my life, and certainly most things I was required to read in school. It’s creepy, thematically ahead of its time, and a perfect example of short story form, in my opinion. I use “My Name” from The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros to help my international students introduce themselves to each other and to me pretty much every semester, and Lorrie Moore is one of my favorite authors. And yet? There is no Alice Munro reading in my history.

I usually hate to be a bandwagon fan just because someone wins an award, but in Munro’s case, I’m going to make an exception. The response to her win has been overwhelmingly positive and genuine, in a way that suggests both a great talent and a person worth admiring behind the work.

One of my Facebook friends said that she read all of her books by working her way through the “Alice Munro shelf” at the library one summer, picking and choosing books as they were available. I did this with Hemingway one year, and it’s a lot of fun. Summer may be over where I live, but Alice Munro Autumn? I think this could work out just fine.

Have you read Alice Munro? Where should I start? Let’s check out some of her work, some quotes, and other facts about this year’s Nobel Prize winner for literature. Many congratulations to Ms. Munro!

  • Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize for Literature 1 of 17
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  • One Alice Munro Tweet to Rule Them All 2 of 17
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    Alice Munro has tweeted one tweet ever — a thanks to all of the supporters of her Nobel Prize. Not bad for one day on Twitter, I'd say.

     

  • Debut story collection, "Dance of the Happy Shades" 3 of 17
    DanceOfTheHappyShades

    Alice Munro's debut started her practice of writing stories rooted in small-town Canadian life. 

    "The tiny share we have of time appalls me, though my father seems to regard it with tranquillity. Even my father, who sometimes seems to me to have been at home in the world as long as it has lasted, has really lived on this earth only a little longer than I have, in terms of all the time there has been to live in. He has not known a time, any more than I, when automobiles and electric lights did not at least exist. He was not alive when this century started. I will be barely alive—old, old—when it ends. I do not like to think of it. I wish the Lake to be always just a lake, with the safe-swimming floats marking it, and the breakwater and the lights of Tuppertown." — Alice Munro, Dance of the Happy Shades

     

    1998 reprint with additional stories, Amazon, $11.98, 1968 original edition used, from $18.84

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • On winning the Man Booker Prize at 77. 4 of 17
    alice-munro-young-two

    Munro traveled to Dublin in 2009 to accept the Man Booker International Prize.

    "I used to feel for years and years and years that I was very remiss not to have written a novel, and I would question people who wrote novels and try to find out how they did it and how they had got past page 30," she said. "Then, with the approach of old age, I began to just think: "Well, lucky I can do anything at all."

     

    Image credit: Facebook

  • The Love Of A Good Woman 5 of 17
    TheLoveOfAGoodWoman

    Released in 1998, The Love of a Good Woman was another collection of stories about life in Western Canada. 

    "A fluid choice, the choice of fantasy, is poured out on the ground and instantly hardens; it has taken its undeniable shape." 
    ― Alice Munro, The Love of a Good Woman

    Amazon, $11.56

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • Margaret Atwood’s tribute to Munro 6 of 17
    alice-munro-two

    "The road to the Nobel wasn't an easy one for Munro: the odds that a literary star would emerge from her time and place would once have been zero," Atwood wrote today. "She was born in 1931, and thus experienced the Depression as a child and the second world war as a teenager." She says of her fellow Canadian, "As in much else, Munro is thus quintessentially Canadian. Faced with the Nobel she will be modest, she won't get a swelled head. The rest of us, on this magnificent occasion, will just have to do that for her.

    Image credit: Facebook

     

  • "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage" 7 of 17
    HateshipFriendshipCourtshipLoveshipMarriage

    "Readers know what they are going to get when they pick up an unfamiliar Alice Munro collection, and yet almost every page carries a bounty of unexpected action, feeling, language, and detail,"  reads the Amazon review of Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. "Her stories are always unique, blazing an invigorating originality out of her seemingly commonplace subjects. Each collection develops her oeuvre in increments, subtly expanding her range."

    Amazon, $10.39

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • "Runaway" 8 of 17
    Runaway-cover

    The  Boston Globe had high praise for Munro's 2004 collection, Runaway.

    "She sings of arms and the woman, of voice and voicelessness. She writes the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, whispers of knowledge and its terrible burdens. She is Alice Munro, and in Runaway, her tenth collection of stories, she outjoices Joyce and checkmates Chekhov."

    Amazon, $11.56

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • On Being a Canadian Writer 9 of 17
    alice-munro-young

    "When I began writing there was a very small community of Canadian writers and little attention was paid by the world. Now Canadian writers are read, admired, and respected around the globe," Munro said in a statement issued by her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. [She hopes her Nobel Prize] "fosters further interest in all Canadian writers" and "brings further recognition to the short story form."

     

    Image credit: Facebook

  • "Away From Her" 10 of 17
    Away_From_Her

    Julie Christie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for this 2006 film, based on Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain," first published in The New Yorker in 1999

     

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • On plans to retire after "Dear Life" 11 of 17
    DearLife

    "What I feel now is that I don't have the energy anymore," she said. "Starting off as I did at a time when women didn't do much else besides bring up children — it's very hard, and you get very tired. I feel a bit tired now — pleasantly tired. There is a nice feeling about being just like everyone else now. But it also means that the most important thing in my life is gone. No, not the most important thing. The most important was my husband, and now they're both gone."

    Image credit: Wikipedia

     

     

  • "Too Much Happiness" 12 of 17
    too-much-happiness

    "It almost seemed as if there must be some random and of course unfair thrift in the emotional housekeeping of the world, if the great happiness - however temporary, however flimsy - of one person could come out of the great unhappiness of another." 
    —Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness

    Amazon, $11.79

    Image credit: Facebook

  • "Lives of Girls and Women" 13 of 17
    lives-of-girls-and-women

    This collection of stories about one character, Del Jordan, was first published in 1971. It is sometimes considered a novel because of the single protagonist, and was made into a CBC tv movie in 1994

    "His face contained for me all possibilities of fierceness and sweetness, pride and submissiveness, violence, self-containment. I never saw more in it than I had when I saw it first, because I saw everything then. The whole thing in him that I was going to love, and never catch or explain." — Alice Munro, Lives of Girls and Women

    Image credit: Facebook

  • Munro on Editing 14 of 17
    alice-munro-large

    She told the Paris Review that she makes changes after stories are published, but there is a limit. 

    "I see a little bit of writing that doesn't seem to be doing as much work as it should be doing, and right at the end I will sort of rev it up. But when I finally read the story again it seems a bit obtrusive. So I'm not too sure about this sort of thing. The answer may be that one should stop this behavior. There should be a point where you say, the way you would with a child, this isn't mine anymore."

    Image credit: Facebook

  • "Friend Of My Youth" 15 of 17
    FriendOfMyYouth

    Publisher's Weekly said of this story collection, "It is difficult to do justice to Munro's magical way with characterization or to her unerring control of her own resources; she writes ... with a trenchant knowledge of life and fiction as conspiring forces of creation.''

    "People are curious. A few people are ... They will put things together, knowing all along that they may be mistaken. You see them going around with notebooks, scraping the dirt off gravestones, reading microfilm, just in the hope of seeing this trickle in time, making a connection, rescuing one thing from the rubbish." -- Alice Munro, "Friend Of My Youth" 

    Amazon, $9.79

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • "Hateship Loveship" — the film 16 of 17
    kristen-wiig

    Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld, Nick Nolte, Christine Lahti, and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in this film adaptation of Munro's short story. The film is set in New Orleans, and tells the story of a young girl who sets up her nanny with her father.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • "Open Secrets" 17 of 17
    OpenSecrets

    Selected as one of the best books of 1994 by the New York Times Book Review, this collection consists of "stories of tremendous strength... Open Secrets is a book that dazzles with its faith in language and in life."

    Image credit: Wikipedia

    Amazon, $10.99

Image credit: Facebook

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