Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Alice Munro Wins the Man Booker International Prize

Canadian author Alice Munro was selected from among a rather esteemed group of writers (E.L. Doctorow, V.S. Naipaul, Joyce Carol Oates, and Mario Vargas Llosa) as this year’s recipient of the Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement.

Munro is a master of the (long) short story, and TCH cannot recommend her work enough. 

No quote can quite do justice to Munro.  Her sentence rhythm alone deserves its own post on the blog.  Nonetheless, consider the final passage from “Meneseteung,” a wow story if ever there was one (Friend of My Youth, 1990).  The narrator has just located the grave of Almeda Roth, a “lady-poet” living in frontier Ontario in the late 1800’s, a world that is genteel out the front door and rough-and-tumble out the back.

I made sure I had got to the edge of the stone. That was all the name there was---Meda.  So it was true that she was called by that name in the family. Not just in the poem. Or perhaps she chose her name from the poem, to be written on her stone.

I thought that there wasn’t anybody alive in the world but me who would know this, who would make the connection.  And I would be the last person to do so.  But perhaps this isn’t so. People are curious.  A few people are. They will be driven to find things out, even trivial things. 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.

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