Monday, January 28, 2008


Since many readers of this blog are adults, I hope you will forgive me for stepping out of the children's world today to talk about a fine writer of adult literature.

For years I heard her name mentioned by writers I admire. Then a few years ago, I finally bought a book of short stories by Alice Munro. After reading a couple of her stories, I felt like someone who had attended a play that everyone had raved about for years. What took me so long?

Munro has dedicated her writing life to the short story, that humble slice of humanity so many readers ignore. As someone who loves short stories more than any other form, I admit to being a bit annoyed when I hear the same excuse from readers who forsake short stories for novels--"I want more." Why do you need more when someone has said it so powerfully in less pages? Munro's stories may have fewer words than a thick novel, but I find myself thinking about her characters and their dilemmas long after I've finished the last sentence. Isn't that what good stories are supposed to do?

Munro is well into her seventies and she continues to write outstanding stories. That excites me as a reader and a writer. To think our best work can be ahead of us is more than hopeful. It's invigorating.

Last night I thought a lot about Alice Munro when I watched the talented Julie Christie win a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance in Away from Her. The film is a compelling movie about a man losing his wife to Alzheimer's. It is based on a short story--Alice Munro's The Bear Came Over the Mountain.

Though her name wasn't mentioned last night, I hope she heard my applause. Bravo, Ms. Munro! Keep the stories coming.

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