Alice Munblows.

Oooh we’re gonna get a little literary with the redding mineshaft today. Bullet Hell fanatics need not apply here. I try to avoid the phony outrage and anger that so many internet postings have, but this one absolutely makes my blood boil for some reason

I’m so sick of watching Alice Munro come of age. I’ve read one collection of short stories, and one novel… they both did exactly the same thing. In fact, the novel was arguably a connection of short stories. One reviewer said that these stories function as “puzzle pieces” that let us figure out the main character as a whole. I prefer to see it as disjointed stories that take advantage of the fact that she doesn’t have to actually create a consistent plot, eventually tying up with an ending that pretty much says “and then I wrote a bunch of stories”.

One thing that I bring up probably a bit too much when I discuss literature is the importance of a strong conclusion. Alice Munro redefines meandering. We follow a character through a loose series of events that only take us to the fact that she realizes her life is made up of a loose series of events! 

I don’t understand the praise this woman gets as a writer either. I find myself zoning in and out while reading her work.  Her writing is amazingly plain. There is no sense of hidden beauty or truth behind her mundane nonsense.  There’s no humor, no emotion, and no tension. I never identify with the characters, and I never have a stake in the outcome because of the aforementioned ending problems. The story never moves anywhere. Within a few minutes after an Alice Munro story, I find I’m left with nothing to sink my teeth into. 

I think the fact that she’s Canadian is the only reason why I’ve had to be exposed to so much of her work. I’ll go so far as to say that she is celebrated only because of the fact that she’s a female Canadian writer during a literary movement that celebrated female Canadian writers. There are many other writers that do the coming of age story much better than Munro. There are many other female Canadian writers that absolutely destroy her as well.

Munro relies on some pretty hacky material as well. Innocent but vaguely sexual childhood experiences. Involvement with an alluring academic in her teenaged years that of course condescends to her and doesn’t treat her like an equal. A brief stint at a church before deciding that a truly spiritual person makes their own faith. She always ends up single, but happily so… a little more bitter, a little wiser, and ready to take on life at the end of it.

I think much like Munro’s writing… this post lacks closure. But hey, I wrote it… so … yeah….


2 Responses to “Alice Munblows.”

  1. 1 Mark Richardson
    December 4, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    So I take it you don’t like Alice Munro? I’ve only read three of her stories, all from this year, and all published in the New Yorker. I actually really liked them. Especially one about a man who was born with a birthmark on his face. I think that was Munro…

    One of the things I liked about the stories were they were so loosely structured. The endings didn’t necessarily make sense. I read a lot of short stories and so many these days seem to come out of an MFA factory with these tight “meaningful” endings. But with that said I could see why others don’t like her. And I haven’t read a lot of her work, so what do I know?

    I just published my first short story. Check it out if you want:

  2. December 5, 2008 at 11:05 am

    I’ve read stories by Munro that I have really enjoyed and other stories that have left me feeling rather Meh about the whole thing. I had to review one of her books a number of years ago for a local paper and felt greatly intimidated because of her iconic status – I mean, who am I to say anything against Alice Munro? Thankfully I enjoyed the book I was reviewing.

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