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Alice Munro biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Read-Alikes

Alice Munro

Alice Munro

Alice Munro Biography

Alice Munro was born in 1931 in Wingham, a small town in southwestern Ontario, to a family of small farmers. She began writing stories at the age of 12. She won a two-year scholarship to the University of Western Ontario. While at school she published several short stories in the student literary magazine. She left before graduating due to money troubles, and in order to marry another student, James Munro. The Munros raised three daughters and for several years ran a bookshop in Victoria; they eventually divorced and Alice Munro married Gerald Fremlin, a geographer. The Fremlins divide their time between Clinton, Ontario--not far from Munro's hometown of Wingham--and Comox, British Columbia.

She says that the turning point for her writing came in 1959 when she wrote "The Peace of Utrecht", a story about her mother becoming ill from Parkinson's when Munro was 12. Exploring her personal pain helped her develop a deeper, more reflective style in her writing. Her first collection, Dances of the Happy Shades, was published in 1968 when she was 37.

In a 2001 interview Munro commented on how age has changed her perspective: "When I was thirty, if I'd tried to write about someone dying of cancer, I would have been overwhelmed by the tragedy of it. Just growing older has an effect. It's the simple experience of where I am in life."

She was the three-time winner of the Governor General's Literary Award, Canada's highest; the Lannan Literary Award; and the W. H. Smith Award, given to Open Secrets as the best book published in the United Kingdom in 1995. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and other publications, and her collections have been translated into thirteen languages.

She died at her home in Port Hope, Ontario, on May 13. She was 92.

Bibliography

  • Dance of the Happy Shades (1968)
  • Lives of Girls and Women (1971)
  • Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You (1974)
  • Who Do You Think You Are? (1978)
  • The Moons of Jupiter: Stories (1982)
  • The Progress of Love (1986)
  • Friend Of My Youth (1990)
  • Open Secrets (1994)
  • Selected Stories (1996)
  • The Love Of A Good Woman (1998)
  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001)
  • Runaway (2004)
  • Carried Away (2006)
  • The View From Castle Rock (2006)
  • Too Much Happiness (2009)
  • Dear Life (2012)



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Interview

Alice Munro reacts to being described as 'our Chekhov', and discusses why she chooses to write stories that violate the discipline of the short story format and don't obey the rules of progression for novels.

What draws you to short stories as opposed to novels? What do you find that the shorter form enables you to do that a novel perhaps would not?
I seem to turn out stories that violate the discipline of the short story form and don't obey the rules of progression for novels. I don't think about a particular form, I think more about fiction, let's say a chunk of fiction. What do I want to do? I want to tell a story, in the old-fashioned way--what happens to somebody--but I want that 'what happens' to be delivered with quite a bit of interruption, turnarounds, and strangeness. I want the reader to feel something is astonishing--not the 'what happens' but the way everything happens. These long short story fictions do that best, for me.

Where do you get the idea for a story or for a particular character?
Sometimes I get the start of a story from a memory, an anecdote, but that gets lost and is usually unrecognizable in the final story. Suppose you have--in memory--a young woman stepping off a train in an outfit so elegant her family is compelled to take her down a peg (as happened to me once), and it somehow becomes a wife who's been recovering from a mental breakdown, met by her husband ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Alice Munro at BookBrowse
Family Furnishings jacket Dear Life jacket Too Much Happiness jacket The View from Castle Rock jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for Alice Munro but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose read-alikes

  • Elizabeth Berg

    Elizabeth Berg

    Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including Open House (an Oprah's Book Club selection), Talk Before Sleep, and The Year of Pleasures, as well as the short story collection The Day I Ate Whatever I... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The View from Castle Rock

    Try:
    Open House
    by Elizabeth Berg

  • Megan Mayhew Bergman

    Megan Mayhew Bergman

    Megan Mayhew Bergman is the author of three books, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, Almost Famous Women, and How Strange a Season. She is currently writing a book on the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.

    Megan is a ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Too Much Happiness

    Try:
    Birds of a Lesser Paradise
    by Megan Mayhew Bergman

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