What's so great about Alice Munro?

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I've heard a lot of people rave about Munro, heard her hailed as one of the best contemporary fiction writers. I'm reading some of her stories and they're fine (though I do tire of the "woman having an affair and it's not working out" theme) but I just don't see why she's extraordinary.

So what do you LOVE about her writing and what stories do you feel are her best?

SJ Lefty, Thursday, 2 September 2004 01:49 (nineteen years ago) link

what I love: Structure, Sentences, Storytelling.

Almost any of her story collections should give you an idea of what she's capable of. She's never obvious even when her subject matter is well-worn. She's innovative within the genre of traditional fiction. She's extremely inventive when it comes to constructing her stories. The fact that she's been doing it for so long and still maintains such a high level of craft is what boggles people's minds. You could easily teach a fiction-writing course based on any one story from a dozen different collections of hers. Her stories aren't "easy" even if on the surface they appear to be.
But really, her gift is to provide great stories for people who like great stories and great writing on every level for people who love that. (and if you love both then you should be able to find something to like about her.)

I would say: pick up the Hateship, Loveship..collection. Read the first story. If you don't like that one then she isn't for you.

What can I say, she just impresses the hell out of me. And I came to her late. Only in the last couple years. I never used to read her stories in the New Yorker.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 2 September 2004 11:18 (nineteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
I still get her mixed up with Carol Shields, to be honest.

derrick (derrick), Monday, 27 September 2004 00:07 (nineteen years ago) link

I'm with you -- I have a book of her stories and I feel like they're just fine. A professor I once had said she was the greatest living short story writer, but I just don't see it.

Hurting, Monday, 27 September 2004 02:26 (nineteen years ago) link

two years pass...
Has anyone read her new story in Harper's this month? I'm dying to talk about it with someone.

Mr. Que (Mr.Que), Tuesday, 6 February 2007 15:37 (seventeen years ago) link

scott seward OTM! I will seek out this Harper's story and return.

horseshoe (horseshoe), Tuesday, 6 February 2007 19:20 (seventeen years ago) link

Mr. Que, i have. it was great! my first munro story too, so I didn't know what to expect.

critique de la vie quotidienne (modestmickey), Tuesday, 6 February 2007 20:08 (seventeen years ago) link

I only started reading her in the last 6 months or so, and she's just brilliant. I'd put her, Anton Chekhov and William Trevor at the top of my short story greats. I can't come close to the articulacy of Scott Seward's post: I'd just say that reading her stories makes me feel as though there's NOTHING about human nature she doesn't completely understand, or that she couldn't render beautifully in prose.

James Morrison (JRSM), Wednesday, 7 February 2007 01:28 (seventeen years ago) link

"I'd put her, Anton Chekhov and William Trevor at the top of my short story greats."

add Flannery O'connor(Munro is much influenced by her),Carver,Cortazar,Borges,Kafka, abd Balzac to that list.

mountain goat of cheese (emekars), Wednesday, 7 February 2007 05:30 (seventeen years ago) link

yeah, i finally got her! i've read the progress of love and something i've been meaning to tell you recently. incredible. it takes me 2-3 pages to get into each story, but by the end i'm out of breath. the most unassuming titles, scenarios, situations, characters manage to be so impeccably illustrated.

the one canadian short story writer that i find comparable or even superior is sharon butala.

derrick harder (derrick.h), Wednesday, 7 February 2007 09:37 (seventeen years ago) link

Another thing I like about her is that she's one of the few, Deborah Eisenberg is another, who's pretty much committed to the long short story. I like stories of various lengths, but a thirty or forty pager lets you linger in another world for a while, as you might in a novel, and since Munro's worlds tend to be rich, I like that. Probably more people would write longer stories if there were more journals around who would take them.

dylan (dylan), Wednesday, 7 February 2007 20:15 (seventeen years ago) link

"add Flannery O'connor(Munro is much influenced by her),Carver,Cortazar,Borges,Kafka, abd Balzac to that list."

Actually, I pretty much would, though Carver and Cortazar would be a little lower than the others. I went for my first three mainly becuase of the sheer size of their output, as well as its quality.

James Morrison (JRSM), Wednesday, 7 February 2007 22:58 (seventeen years ago) link

one year passes...

she's my favorite writer i've discovered over the last two or three years. she is unbelievably great. my only complaint (in the middle of a story) is she has these *moments*. but then she does amazing things with the moments. but then i wonder, are moments really like that?

but then i think she knows this, and she uses these moments to illuminate everything.

<3 <3 <3

Matt P, Wednesday, 3 December 2008 10:57 (fifteen years ago) link

cosign 1000%

t_g, Wednesday, 3 December 2008 11:14 (fifteen years ago) link

i've been getting really into her work the last 6 months, and 'open secrets' is the greatest short story collection i've ever read. scott totally otm: she's so elegant, and there's not a wasted word, and such a natural flow to her prose. i like that a lot of her stories have these sinister undertones.

it's always funny until someone gets hurt and then it's just hilariou (Rubyredd), Friday, 5 December 2008 03:41 (fifteen years ago) link

The short story writer I've most imitated, ever since I read "The Albanian Virgin" fifteen years ago. I've taught "Royal Beatings," "Floating Bridge," and "The Turkey Farm" quite a bit. The seemingly artless manner in which incidents accumulate, illuminated by the perceptions of an older narrator, always astonishes me.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 5 December 2008 03:47 (fifteen years ago) link

seven months pass...

i wld say pretty much everything

stayed up l8 last nite reading all of &cship, marriage feeling bewildered by something so great. the last story is just ...damn but there were a few others the one that opens the collection and the one with the golf course "nettles" are so n/l i kind of want to talk about them like physical effects like something that happened 2 me

♥/b ~~~ :O + x_X + :-@ + ;_; + :-/ + (~,~) + (:| = :^) (Lamp), Friday, 10 July 2009 14:42 (fifteen years ago) link

idk maybes its kind of like that franzen review/meltdown theres no way to talk about her stories just u have 2 read them but... idk. my head is filled w/ them

also what should i read next i bought lives of girls and women and open secrets and id already read runaway and dance of the happy shade. recs plz

♥/b ~~~ :O + x_X + :-@ + ;_; + :-/ + (~,~) + (:| = :^) (Lamp), Friday, 10 July 2009 14:44 (fifteen years ago) link

the only other one i've read is moons of jupiter - i think that's what it's called? anyway it's awesome but yeah i would like some recs too

just sayin, Friday, 10 July 2009 14:45 (fifteen years ago) link

i wonder, are moments really like that?

The fact that she has you wondering means that, within the universe of the story she is telling, she was able to convince you of their reality. That is part of her storytelling art.

The fact that, after laying down the book, you have lingering doubts about the reality of those moments means to me that she is probably placing an exaggerated throw-weight into those instants, in order to increase their immediate impact on the reader. A writer like Henry James would arrange such moments so that their impact grew in retrospect.

This is a rather small weakness in my opinion, but it is a gauge as well.

Aimless, Friday, 10 July 2009 17:08 (fifteen years ago) link

no one ever tells me anything so i went to the bookstore and bought a bunch of her books all at once gathered up the slim gray volumes and read through them v. quickly all wknd @ the beach


at the end of lives of girls women which has the best title when the girl sleeps with the dude from the lumberyard and fails her exams daydreaming of sweat and pleasure i felt kind of angry with her like she was such a fool but i *think* i wasnt supposed to or at least i should i *get* what she was doing what was really impt &c

still i felt sad and irked by her

♥/b ~~~ :O + x_X + :-@ + ;_; + :-/ + (~,~) + (:| = :^) (Lamp), Monday, 13 July 2009 20:23 (fourteen years ago) link

the collection with "Save The Reaper!" (published in '98) is marvelous.

My name is Kenny! (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 13 July 2009 20:24 (fourteen years ago) link

To be honest I can't really recommend any one in particular--every one of her books (haven't yet read the most recent) struck me as being pretty bloody excellent.

Great Expectorations (James Morrison), Monday, 13 July 2009 22:42 (fourteen years ago) link

Open Secrets is a good starting place. Or Hateship, Friendship...

but, yeah, just dive in.

though maybe don't start with The View From Castle Rock just cuz it's a little different. combining historical autobio stuff with fictional stuff.

scott seward, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 01:29 (fourteen years ago) link

(i mention those two books - Open Secrets and Hateship...just cuz i feel like they contain one knockout punch after another.)

scott seward, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 01:31 (fourteen years ago) link

yeah hateship is all killer no filler although still MAYBE not as a good as runaway

moons of jupiter has a couple of really fantastic ones too... "hard luck stories" is like a vision or a song or something idk

♥/b ~~~ :O + x_X + :-@ + ;_; + :-/ + (~,~) + (:| = :^) (Lamp), Tuesday, 14 July 2009 14:32 (fourteen years ago) link

The thing I think is really startling about her is her descriptions which are eerily precise and cliché-free.

❉❉❉❉❉❉❉❉Plaxico❉❉❉❉❉❉❉❉❉ (I know, right?), Saturday, 18 July 2009 09:58 (fourteen years ago) link

yah she really "captures it," as they say

W i l l, Saturday, 18 July 2009 14:04 (fourteen years ago) link

new book out later this year!!

where we turn sweet dreams into remarkable realities (just1n3), Saturday, 18 July 2009 16:14 (fourteen years ago) link

six months pass...

Stock photos of self-conscious women. Fitting?

bamcquern, Thursday, 4 February 2010 21:07 (fourteen years ago) link

the ones with faces seem out of place.

W i l l, Thursday, 4 February 2010 21:12 (fourteen years ago) link

idk i think theyre waaaay nice than stock photos are mb i just like the stock photo aesthetic

the girl in "there's something..." is mesmerizing to me

Lamp, Thursday, 4 February 2010 21:14 (fourteen years ago) link

The new collection is her best since Hateship...

Inculcate a spirit of serfdom in children (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 4 February 2010 21:19 (fourteen years ago) link

there's only been one other btw them (?) which is my absolute favorite of hers. although there's something i've been menaing to tell you has the story about the dude that tries to walk on water.

Lamp, Thursday, 4 February 2010 21:26 (fourteen years ago) link

Yeah, they're lovely. I thought they were Hoppers for a minute

Ismael Klata, Thursday, 4 February 2010 21:46 (fourteen years ago) link

I believe they're not stock, but were taken especially for the books.

Attention please, a child has been lost in the tunnel of goats. (James Morrison), Thursday, 4 February 2010 22:23 (fourteen years ago) link

Alice Munro is like the female northern version of William Faulkner.

youn, Thursday, 4 February 2010 23:45 (fourteen years ago) link


Attention please, a child has been lost in the tunnel of goats. (James Morrison), Friday, 5 February 2010 00:46 (fourteen years ago) link

there's only been one other btw them (?)

The View From Castle Rock

Inculcate a spirit of serfdom in children (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 5 February 2010 00:47 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh they're def not stock

W i l l, Friday, 5 February 2010 18:24 (fourteen years ago) link

five months pass...

woo a copy of 'hateship, friendship' showed up at work today, i can read this person now

thomp, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 10:40 (thirteen years ago) link

you will love it (maybe)

hateship is a good place to start, it's pretty much amazing

just sayin, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 10:45 (thirteen years ago) link


Filmmaker, Author, Radio Host Stephen Baldwin (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 13 July 2010 11:50 (thirteen years ago) link

i really like those penguin classics covers, why do they not have them over here

just sayin, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 11:54 (thirteen years ago) link

seven months pass...

picked up 'open secrets' & 'the love of a good woman', half way thru the latter now. kinda wonder what im going to do when i run out of her books, i always love knowing that theres more of them to read

just sayin, Wednesday, 23 February 2011 20:36 (thirteen years ago) link

I know! I've only got Castle Rock left unread, and I'm trying to hold off on that until she gets a new one out, so that I won't be without something to live for.

the most cuddlesome bug that ever was borned (James Morrison), Wednesday, 23 February 2011 22:10 (thirteen years ago) link

i just looked on wikipedia + ive got 6 more to go which is a relief

just sayin, Wednesday, 23 February 2011 22:36 (thirteen years ago) link

hahaha this was exactly my thinking, but then i got greedy and read the last 3 in recent months ;_;

just1n3, Thursday, 24 February 2011 04:41 (thirteen years ago) link

Herman Melville was terrible to his family

A So-Called Pulitzer price winner (President Keyes), Tuesday, 9 July 2024 17:28 (three days ago) link

well, that's the thing. a hundred years from now and this family stuff will not be remembered by many but the stories might endure. you never can tell. she might not be the kind of thing people want to read 100 years from now. she didn't write enough about living underground and hiding from the sun.

scott seward, Tuesday, 9 July 2024 17:40 (three days ago) link

I absolutely love Munro, and part of me is thinking "thank God I can take her off my list now, there was so much left to read on it, and now I don't have to bother." Oddly enough I just read the "Hateship..." collection this month and I'm selfishly glad I got to finish and enjoy it before this awful story broke.

I guess my "personal choices", as Scott puts it, about what artists I want to keep in my life, are more about my laziness than my morality. I don't watch Woody Allen or Louis CK anymore, because a lot of their work feels like a fucking chore, whereas I feel like nothing could be easier or more pleasurable than slipping into "Rear Window" or "I Just Can't Help It" for the twentieth time. That said - I still don't want to listen to "Ignition" again.

Chuck_Tatum, Tuesday, 9 July 2024 18:42 (three days ago) link

As for me, I had yet to read Munro and ordered "Hateship..." two days before this story broke out. I will read it and some connections will be mortifying, but that's how it is. It's not in my control what people do and when I will hear about it. I also believe great works can outlast the rest - there are many examples, and we typically do not wait 100 years, we often do not wait at all. Now that she died, there is no one to confront, banish, or hold accountable. In the end, I can reconcile feeling sympathy for the daughter, incomprehension at AM's personal choices, and reading her works... at least with the knowledge. Art is rarely pure, artists are not paragons of virtue, art is often an expiation... and that is also why we read.

Nabozo, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 09:03 (two days ago) link

I'm sure there's a lot more to come out of this story but it confuses me that the impulse on hearing about it is to prevaricate or distance oneself as a reader/consumer. Like that's the important thing to get straight.

I would prefer not to. (Chinaski), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 10:26 (two days ago) link

I am sympathetic to this but we are only connected to these individuals as readers and what is there to get straight aside from feeling horrified for the victim?

Daniel_Rf, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 10:57 (two days ago) link

I'm conscious of sounding hectoring which I don't mean to and people are just spitballing on a web forum. I'm in a different position since the art doesn't mean much to me in this instance but either way 'my relationship to the art' feels like an ugly framing device. For me, when it's this raw, I have a sense of wanting to wait - to give the emotional response a chance to settle.

But, as you say, sympathy aside, perhaps that's all we really have to offer.

I would prefer not to. (Chinaski), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 11:25 (two days ago) link

yeah man idk, the more i grow as an individual the less i care about Art as some kind of daddy and the more i care about people who overcome trauma. obviously not everyone has to feel that way but in these kinds of conversations with these kinds of artists it always feels like there are a handful of (mostly men tbqf) who are on the side of the metrics and the universal standard of Art and while the other pov is represented it's kind of relegated to something minor. i want to advocate for it as the major thing. art is always with us, we will always have art we feel is great and ineffable and all that, but abuse and such, that's worth fighting for or worth drawing a line in the sand for, because abuse is bad for people, canceling alice munro is not. not sure how that sounds and it's not directed at anyone specifically itt, it's just how i feel.

he/him hoo-hah (map), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 15:44 (two days ago) link

i do think this comes down to personal exerience, essentially - either you can read her now or you can't, and i think that depends on your own background, your own trauma or lack of it. but i also feel like every time this happens it's really important for people to understand how this kind of thing affects people, to go a little further with the empathy.

he/him hoo-hah (map), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 15:50 (two days ago) link

for me there are artists who are or were obviously big ol jerks and I can still listen to them, but once they cross the line into something truly darker, it's really hard for me to ever want to see their books on my shelf, or their music in my collection ever again. I'm not sure where the line is exactly, it kind of differs depending on the situation. I know it when I see it.

omar little, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 15:50 (two days ago) link

it's okay not to know the line too! Nor do you have to defend yourself when you see that line comes imo.

the talented mr pimply (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 15:52 (two days ago) link

For me for example, can I still listen to Grimes? Yes, and pretty frequently. Can I listen to Roisin Murphy? I don't know that I've done so since she revealed herself for what she was. And I listened to Roisin Machine as much as any album in that year or so after it came out.

omar little, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 15:57 (two days ago) link

roisin murphy has been an interesting example for me. being a terf is a kind of abuse i think. at first it was like, oh well this opinion is common, i don't want to stop listening to her. but the more i thought about it, where someone has to be to be like that in public, the more it illuminated about where she's coming from and how shallow she is. and being here, on this message board, with trans people i know and care about, helped bring me around to that too.

there are a lot of women writers writing about young women and girls with a darker or less foreclosed perspective, some of them "high-quality" literary fiction and some of them not. i'd rather read a cute ya author who i know isn't out there tossing their child into a pit, you know?

xp lol

he/him hoo-hah (map), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 15:58 (two days ago) link


omar little, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:03 (two days ago) link

Yeah I know by that same rationale why would I want to listen to some narcissistic user, someone who decided she would enjoy the attention and adoration of the scene that she secretly bore some measure of disgust for, why would I listen to her when I got to listen to Kylie Minogue? Or Fever Ray?

omar little, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:05 (two days ago) link

*when I could listen to

omar little, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:05 (two days ago) link

haha absolutely

he/him hoo-hah (map), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:07 (two days ago) link

For me, it comes down to if I can enjoy the artwork without the Bad Things the artist has done intruding into my brain.

I know Marvin Gaye was a shit, but I can listen to him without thinking about it for whatever reason.

I can't listen to any Michael Jackson, because I start thinking about abused kids. I can't listen to the Jackson 5, because I think about the little kid singing who would grow up and abuse kids.

If the person is an active, living artist, I don't want my money going to them if they are an abuser.

I had never heard of Alice Munro before this. I love a good short story so I'm tempted based on what was said about her earlier in this thread. And she's dead, so it's not like she's benefiting off of me reading her works. But it sounds like the abuse echoes in the content of her stories, so I probably won't bother.

Cow_Art, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:07 (two days ago) link

i always wonder how much i should even know about someone. before the internet i didn't really read much about artists and their lives. i mean, i did, but i don't think i ever learned too much that was scandalous. i read hollywood babylon. but for the most part i didn't seek out juicy tidbits. didn't read a lot of biographies. i liked the mystery of artists. i was always very uncomfortable meeting my heroes.

scott seward, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:13 (two days ago) link

I know Marvin Gaye was a shit, but I can listen to him without thinking about it for whatever reason.

when i listen to marvin gaye i *do* think about how his entire life was fucked and doomed and how much he inflicted that on others... doesn't interfere with how much i love the music for whatever reason

i tried relistening to early red house painters a few months ago because it was my birthday and that stuff is the core, the heart music to me, but the experience was mostly miserable (how many of those songs are about abusive relationships???). i put on the golden age by american music club after and it was like breathing air again

ivy., Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:17 (two days ago) link

Idk for me it’s like, art isn’t something that springs out of nowhere, with the person producing a mere conduit. The art is the person. If you don’t know anything about that person, the art will give you some kind of story about them. But once you know some truths about that person, well then it’s not just the art giving you their story, but now their story is influencing how you see their art.

I’m not good at talking about this stuff, sorry. Props to map for being so articulate.

just1n3, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:18 (two days ago) link

so many great artists seem to be psycopaths lmao, better imho to have other heroes xp

he/him hoo-hah (map), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:18 (two days ago) link

i think your posts about this have really clarified how this stuff affects me, just1n3, as i really suck at talking about it

ivy., Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:21 (two days ago) link

haha thx justine! hi ivy!

he/him hoo-hah (map), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:22 (two days ago) link

i think i get most depressed when i realize the art only exists so the artist could have access to more people to abuse. (obv we are talking way beyond alice munro now)

ivy., Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:23 (two days ago) link

There's part of me that wants to spend more time with their work, seeing what made their life not completely wasted or toxic. It's a more magnified version of, say, knowing a pastry chef who's an asshole (I've known a few!) but appreciating what they make because it's their most generous, least fucked-up part.

People who take their own lives...that's where I land closer to what a lot of you are describing here with Munro. It takes a lot for me not be distracted by that, or to see the work as a reflection of that dark impulse.

the possibility of relaxing (Eazy), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:27 (two days ago) link

that's an interesting pov.

he/him hoo-hah (map), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:30 (two days ago) link

Idk for me it’s like, art isn’t something that springs out of nowhere, with the person producing a mere conduit. The art is the person.

You're not having any trouble explaining yourself pithily.

the talented mr pimply (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:31 (two days ago) link

For me I guess when that happens, I see the art as an honest journal of their own life, and it's one that I have to look at with some measure of respect for what they went through. When you have musicians for example who tell stories full of empathy or longing, and meanwhile they're sliding into the DMS of underage fans or something, it just feels like sensitive guy bait meant to lure people in.

omar little, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:33 (two days ago) link

So much male '70s soft rock codes in that fashion.

the talented mr pimply (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:34 (two days ago) link

i learned something about an artist whose most famous work was not only profoundly influential for me aesthetically, thematically, etc. but which was likely instrumental in me figuring out i was a trans lesbian, a work that if i ever actually start writing my n*vel it will inevitably be compared to, and what i learned about him suggested that he had not actually internalized the themes of his own work, which is just..... *siiiiiigh*. but it also makes me think about how i expect to hear something unsettling about ***** ***** one day, despite the fact that his best work prioritizes female subjectivity even as its being undermined and abused and destroyed by men, and i think about how artists are often working through nigh-unconscious guilts and regrets in their work, and the art does not, cannot make up for the harm they caused others, but that it doesn't exactly nullify the usefulness of the art and the degree to which it helped me realize things about myself. idk, i think i can read alice munro in the future under these conditions but it's always fraught, unknowable until i get there

ivy., Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:34 (two days ago) link

Or I don't know things start to come off as justifications for the harm done to other people. And yeah they code as the sort of wistful explanations of the complexities of being a man, and yet why do such complexities lead to them wanting to have a specific, simpleminded pattern of abuse they return to over and over again. Obviously that's just the most common one, there are other forms of abuse or abhorrent views from all genders. Xxp

omar little, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:37 (two days ago) link

Xps thanks, I really appreciate that bc ilxors are generally highly articulate and I get self conscious about being much less able to say what I want to say.

I’m a notorious grudge-holder so it’s pvmic for me to renounce my admiration of an artist once I find out they’ve really hurt someone/s. But it’s not the kind of standard I think everyone should have. And if you’ve benefited from the influence of an artist’s work, the way ivy describes, then i especially understand that and respect it.

I was a total die-hard for the Pumpkins until I found out about Billy corgan’s association with alex jones. I happily ignored all the goofy-ass pretentious shit he said before that. Now I just can’t take him seriously. But I still regularly listen to those pre-2000 albums because that music was a gateway for me, and got me through my awful teenage years.

just1n3, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:50 (two days ago) link

my w1fe told me several years ago that she noticed one of her favorite indie musicians was following all sorts of MAGA accounts, Candace Owens and that type of person, she saw her commenting with "vomit" emojis on some BLM content, etc. she told me this as this artist's most recent, long awaited second album was in the mail. i quietly returned it.

omar little, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 16:59 (two days ago) link

The 500 songs podcast, while awesome, is very dispiriting when so many of those people were awful.

At least we’ll always have Fats Domino and Otis Redding, certified good guys.

Cow_Art, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 17:04 (two days ago) link

i think a lot of successful fiction writers get really good at shutting out the real world/people/irl emotions in order to live in the world they are creating on the page. which is why so many of them have so many wifes/husbands/girlfriends/boyfriends. people get tired of being shut out.
i can remember even my part-time writing used to bum maria out pretty bad because i would shut myself off so completely. i couldn't go back and forth from real world to writing world. i had to stay in the zone. i can only imagine what it would have been like if i was a full-timer.
i also think this can lead to writers getting good at just shutting things out in their real lives that is uncomfortable or hard. or maybe that's just people in general. using their work to avoid things.

scott seward, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 17:10 (two days ago) link

so, yes, what i'm saying is that being a full-time writer can make you more sociopathic. haha. i mean its kinda true. i do remember (and i miss) that feeling of writing something long and being really into it and nothing else mattered to me. the world didn't matter. people didn't matter. i liked that feeling!

scott seward, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 17:33 (two days ago) link

would anyone prefer to have not learned of this? or is it important to know (even though she’s dead)?

mookieproof, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 17:51 (two days ago) link

(nb i’m not at all suggesting that the victims should have kept quiet or anything!)

mookieproof, Wednesday, 10 July 2024 17:53 (two days ago) link

lurking - just wanted to say thx for this discussion it is v helpful to read. between this and the Gaiman stuff it all has really put me into a bad place

werewolves of laudanum (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 10 July 2024 19:24 (two days ago) link

I think it's hugely important to know, first because it was important for the daughter to tell, but also because it's impossible to ignore such an event if you want to analyse someone's work.

Otherwise, I think the point of experience is true but it can go different ways. I have heard stories of abuse from people close to me that happened fairly recently, that are close at hand. And always with some people knowing and shutting up. Canada 1976 is pretty far in comparison, even if the letter is already much closer. There is always outrage when you read such, but it is somewhat detached, more part of some great misery.

Nabozo, Thursday, 11 July 2024 08:44 (yesterday) link

Even if it feels wrong to compare or order suffering obviously

Nabozo, Thursday, 11 July 2024 08:44 (yesterday) link

A complex essay from Brandon Taylor:

What I love about her stories is that they come with an aftermath. They dare to offer the reader a glimpse into that rarely seen world to come. When the choice has been made and one has to get on with it. I was told too late. I loved him too much. Is that not the most Alice Munro thing you have ever read?

Furthermore, it’s a kind of thinking I was raised among. It’s how I got through much of the abuse and trauma of my own life. Well, that’s that. Anyway. Not a shrug. But a setting the shoulder against the stone and pushing onward. It is a kind of thinking common to the rural poor and the working poor, among whom and by whom I was raised. I have struggled for a long time in trying to explain it. It is a world without history. Not a world without a past. But a world without a history, which is a story we tell ourselves about the past. Among my people, the rural and working poor, to make a history out of the past is taboo. To speak of a thing done is to make too much of it. To be fishing for sympathy, and for what, when there’s nothing to be done about it anyway.

the possibility of relaxing (Eazy), Thursday, 11 July 2024 18:05 (yesterday) link

makes her stories sound less appealing than i remember

he/him hoo-hah (map), Thursday, 11 July 2024 18:16 (yesterday) link

These abuse situations, where a parent fails to protect their child, can often have nuance that at least leads to some sympathy for the parent’s position.

But Munro straight up treated the situation like she’d been cheated on. And tbh this story has some parallels to my relationship with my mother so that’s probably why I have a pretty black and white reaction to it. My own mother *accused me* - not gently inquired with concern - of having an affair with my stepdad when I was 16 (fyi there was nothing like that happening) and it permanently damaged not just my relationship with her but also my stepdad.

just1n3, Thursday, 11 July 2024 18:38 (yesterday) link

wow complex is right. but useful too? thx for sharing, really intense food for thought

werewolves of laudanum (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 11 July 2024 18:40 (yesterday) link

she did leave at first. alice munro. after her daughter told her what had happened. but then went back to him. i don't know how long she left for.

scott seward, Thursday, 11 July 2024 18:59 (yesterday) link

gotta figure she was the victim of some kind of gaslighting and abuse as well, it makes sense bc you get the sense that this guy was a smooth-talker who intellectualized his toxicity, made it poetic, acknowledged his flaws and his imperfections, tied everything up in a nice little bow, and would love to get into just how unfair it was to hold him to impossible standards, how in being a fallible man prone to what all men are prone to, he was taken advantage of by a duplicitous female. her returning to him is something you see a lot of victims do, people who have been tied up in horrible relationships for so long, justifying not just what's done to them but done to others. not that it excuses what she did to her own daughter whatsoever, plenty of people out there would have fled the situation, or killed the fucking guy.

omar little, Thursday, 11 July 2024 19:14 (yesterday) link

yeah i suspect a.m. was damaged by abuse earlier in life too. people who have been abused tend to stick with abusers later on. the thing about accusing a 12-year-old of being a homewrecker and a sexual threat, that kind of damage, you only do that if it was done to you once upon a time and you haven't dealt with it afaict. my experience is similar to justine's in that my mother was the one who was treated like that, and she was sexually abused pretty heavily, by her father. she didn't reckon with it, she was in great pain, but ultimate she chose the side of her abuser and was very emotionally abusive, cruel, and narcissistic to me. thank god she didn't abuse me sexually. the rest of that side of the family, that kind of thing of sexually weaponizing minors in order to justify the abuse of men, that was definitely happening with cousins and so forth. anyway that's where i'm coming from when it comes to this story so it's impossible for me to see straight about it. i have nothing against anyone who continues to read and enjoy a.m., in fact i'm maybe a little jealous haha. but there's always joy williams :). i think she runs an animal sanctuary in wyoming or something, i'm pretty sure she's safe.

he/him hoo-hah (map), Thursday, 11 July 2024 22:15 (yesterday) link

basically if you've internalized "i am worthless" it's very easy for you to treat others esp your own children like they are worthless too.

he/him hoo-hah (map), Thursday, 11 July 2024 22:24 (yesterday) link

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