Reading ten of her collections in a row has induced in me not a glow of admiration but a state of mental torpor that spread into the rest of my life. I became sad, like her characters, and like them I got sadder. I grew attuned to the ways life is shabby or grubby, words that come up all the time in her stories, as well as to people’s residential and familial histories, details she never leaves out. ... I saw everyone heading towards cancer, or a case of dementia that would rob them of the memories of the little adulteries they’d probably committed and must have spent their whole lives thinking about. ‘You’re reading them the wrong way,’ someone told me. This too ought to go without saying. Munro’s stories suffer when they’re collected because the right way to read them is in a magazine, where they can be tucked between, say, a report on the war in Syria and a reconsideration of Stefan Zweig to provide a rural interlude between current atrocities and past masterpieces, or profiles of celebrities or sophisticated entrepreneurs. A slice of sad life in the sticks, filtered through an enlightened eye and most likely set ‘in the old days’.
Munro’s later tendency to heap on details for details’ sake and load up her stories with false leads
The Observer said, “Your Concrete/Literal Style rolls back all the advances Flaubert made in the representation of consciousness. But by rolling back modernity, you’ve also advanced the novel by exposing its distortions.”
Tao Lin went to the bathroom.
The Observer thought, “This guy pees a lot.”
Five minutes later The Observer said, “I am going to write a profile of you in your style.”
Tao Lin said, “You should end it with a sentence like the one I’m saying now.”
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