I’m retired. Most of my time is mine to use as I wish. Odd, then, that I find (or carve out) so little uninterrupted time to just sit and read.
I love to read. I have piles of books and magazines on end tables and nightstands and the sofa and book shelves in my office, and yet it seems a struggle to set aside a good hour to just sit with one, to start and engage and finish a story or essay.
I need to remember, then, what happened today, when I finally picked up Alice Munro’s collection of stories, “Runaway,” tucked into the title story, and after a brief break for dinner, rejoined it and rode it to completion.
This was perhaps the third story of Munro’s that I have read, and I wonder why I have not read more. Perhaps because so much other excellence demands and deserves my attention, but I have let volume get in the way of engagement.
Munro takes simple people with simple dreams and extracts the complexity from their every thought, their every move. With Munro, still waters do indeed run deep. No fireworks here, just a prose master, taking us on a gallery tour in which we view her subjects from every angle, inside and out, wrestling with dreams and desires, fears and frustrations, simple charities and tragic reversals of will.
In a world so jammed with flash and volume, bright and shiny spectacles, I must suggest that you do yourself a favor and get to know Munro.
She was honored with the Nobel Prize for her work exclusively in the short story form. The talent leading to that honor lies in every word choice and finely crafted phrase, every description and mannerism through which her fictional small town Canadians live as large and wide as their sprawling landscape.
I regret many an hour wasted on some dizzy video extrusion. I regret nothing of my time spent with Munro.