Monday, October 14, 2013

Alice Munro and Almost-memoir

Alice Munro: "The constant happiness is curiosity."
From an NPR interview with Canadian short story writer Alice Munro, recent Nobel Prize winner in Literature:
Still, as a woman of her generation, she felt conflicted about taking time she needed to do her work, telling WHYY's Fresh Air in 1996: "There tends not to be the feeling that this is what you deserve. I still find it hard to think that I deserve this time — to this day. I can be made to feel guilty if a friend phones just to chat ... Also just about all the things that I could be doing to be a better homemaker, as I was trained to be."
A friend referenced this quote to me recently. She was blown away that such a famous writer - fourteen collections of short stories and many awards - would feel this way. Then I told her I do, too. My friend insisted - but you have to write. It's a part of your living. Yes, and? Somehow no matter what we are doing and how valued it is, there's always a doubt - maybe I am not doing enough, or not doing what I should be doing.

Munro doesn't write memoir - she writes short stories - but they are highly autobiographical. She is exactly the kind of writer - one who has lived in the same region her whole life and writes strongly of place - that Natalie Goldberg suggests for her students to read. As a person, too, she is delightful. One of my favorite quotes of hers is in this NYT article: "The constant happiness is curiosity."

Keep reading women authors, never doubting the significance of fiction, too, to enlarge our sense of empathy, as this recent NYT article says research now shows. We learn how to write everywhere, not just in our own genre.

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