Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Miles City, Montana" by Alice Munro (From her Progress of Love, 1986)

Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature yesterday.  Short story lovers world wide are rejoicing!  

In the 75 Q and A sessions I have done with short story writers I always ask who among contemporary short story writers they most admire.  Alice Munro was overwhelmingly the most common answer.  I have in the four years of my blog only posted on four of her short stories.  I think one reason for this is that one of her short stories has more impact and real life than many other author's novels.   Most of her stories are set in rural Ontario, her home.  Most center on the lives of women.  She has published one novel and fourteen collections of short stories.  

My main purpose in this post is just to join in the celebration of this wonderful pick by the Nobel Committee.  The short story is often treated as the "step child" of the literary world and it is good to see it take center stage.  

"Miles City Montana" begins with a woman telling how her father found the body of a lost young boy, as part of a search party in the Canadian woods.  The boy drowned in a lake.  The boy was being raised by his father, the mother deserted the family.  The narrator recalls the boy as a kind of trouble maker.  Her reflections on his death permeate the fabric of her life.  Munro flashes us twenty years ahead in time from the narrator at eight to maybe twenty-eight.  She is married with two children.  There are some simply brilliant things said in the story about being a parent, about how we somehow unconsciously force our children into the roles and character we have picked for them.    The children are three and six.  The family is going on a long road trip vacation.  The kids are beside themselves with excitement.  The family trip is just perfect.  A near tragedy is avoided.  This is a rich story with so much to offer the reader.  

If you have not yet read one of her stories, there are a few online you can read for free.  

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