This week Margaret Atwood tweeted a photo of her and Alice Munro drinking champagne in a “secret lair.” There’s no denying it — technology has changed the way we tell stories. Atwood and 16 other writers, from Victor LaValle to Lee Child, discussed how technology influences their work in The New York Times. “There’s nothing worse for plots than cellphones. Once your characters have one, there’s no reason for them to get lost or stranded,” Rainbow Rowell said.
"For Americans who have plowed through [Alice] Munro’s Selected Stories and are looking for a broader taste of Canadian literature — or CanLit, as it is called here — I offer a partial and admittedly idiosyncratic ‘Beginner’s Guide to Canadian Literature.’”
Though Munro was not produced by the MFA culture, she has been embraced by it to an extent unparalleled by any other living writer. When I visited the MFA program where I eventually enrolled, I was only a minute or two into a conversation with a second-year student when he asked, ‘Do you love Alice Munro?’ Before I could answer, he added, ‘Because everybody here really loves Alice Munro.’
And once the noise of the train has been swallowed up he realizes there isn’t the perfect quiet around that he would have expected. Plenty of disturbance here and there, a shaking of the dry August leaves that wasn’t wind, a racket of unknown, unseen birds chastising him.
We celebrated Canada Day a bit early here yesterday with the news that Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature and our review of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam. So what is Canadian literature exactly? Atwood offered her definition for The Daily Beast: “It’s too multiple [to give a concise definition], but let us say that the point of view (if the writer is not pretending to be American, which they often are) is never that of someone who feels that their country is an imperial power. Because, in fact, Canada is not an imperial power.” You can also see The Handmaid’s Tale at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet next week.
Alice Munro has just won the Nobel Prize for Literature! If you’re new to her writing, here’s our beginner’s guide. Or read our review of her latest Dear Life, which Ben Dolnick claims has “the intelligence itself, the compassionate but merciless awareness that she has shone through all her hundreds of stories.” And in our Books of the Millennium series, Michelle Huneven says she returns to Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories”for sustenance, for instruction, and for pleasure.”
In Alice Munro’s latest collection, Dear Life, many of her characters are happy or find happiness but that happiness is never complete, never without complications or compromise. It’s interesting to consider Dear Life as the critically acclaimed television show 30 Rock, comes to an end…