Best of Fall 2012: After years of playing the reclusive literary genius, Alice Munro is back with a new collection of stories
The 81-year-old Alice Munro has been publishing short stories for nearly half a century, and she keeps getting better, sharpening her focus on the manners and mores of tragically flawed women and men. Every story has a passage (and often more than one) that demonstrates her uncanny ability to see right through vanity, desperation and self-deception. Her favourite subject—the way otherwise intelligent women can fall victim to their own anxieties—dominates her new collection, Dear Life. The book’s mock-pompous title strikes an ominous note for her fans—Munro has been dogged by poor health in recent years. In 2009, she admitted in an onstage interview that she had undergone heart bypass surgery and “just had cancer.” (The combination of heartbreaking darkness and ironic understatement in that quote is thoroughly Munro-esque.) She has also been hinting about retiring altogether since at least 2006, but like a white-haired, literary Jay-Z, has gone right on putting out remarkable work. Despite her global fame, Munro shuns most opportunities to put her face in front of a camera and an audience. Her appearance onstage at the International Festival of Authors this month* is her only planned Canadian event, making it a rare opportunity to see one of our greatest living writers.
By Alice Munro
On shelves Oct. 16
*Editor’s note: Munro’s appearance at the International Festival of Authors has been cancelled due to health issues.