Alice Munro, 1931-2024
May 15, 2024 3:29 AM   Subscribe

Alice Munro, master of short stories, wove intense tales of human drama from small-town life is the Globe and Mail obituary [archive] for the Canadian literary giant who passed away Monday night. She received the Nobel in literature in 2013 among countless other prizes. She also cofounded Munro’s Books in Victoria, British Columbia, who posted a remembrance on Instagram. The New Yorker, where many of her stories first appeared, has a section with links to her short fiction, as well as personal essays, appraisals and an interview and an obituary [archive]. The 1978 classic Moons of Jupiter was recently featured on their fiction podcast, and it is also available as text.
posted by Kattullus (44 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

Earlier this year I went back to her final collection, Dear Life, and found it really profound, in a way that it hadn’t struck me when I first read it. I used to think that the 1982 collection Moons of Jupiter was the place to start with her work, she may be a writer best read backwards, chronologically.
posted by Kattullus at 3:33 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]

posted by warriorqueen at 3:41 AM on May 15

posted by drezdn at 4:12 AM on May 15

She writes like no one else. She was my absolute favorite.
posted by bearette at 4:24 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]

posted by trip and a half at 4:56 AM on May 15

posted by LobsterMitten at 5:00 AM on May 15

She was/is a great story teller. I used to interact with her a bit on Twitter before you know who bought it.
posted by DJZouke at 5:00 AM on May 15

posted by JoeXIII007 at 5:37 AM on May 15

Great stories
posted by Phanx at 5:42 AM on May 15

I was referred to Alice Munro by none other than DFW. It was a very, very good rec. She was amazing and set an extremely high bar for short fiction. May she rest in peace.

posted by grumpybear69 at 5:53 AM on May 15

posted by doctornemo at 6:04 AM on May 15

I happened to wake up in the wee hours, saw that she had died, and beat everyone else to putting a hold on her books at the library. Insomnia ftw.
posted by HotToddy at 6:09 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]

posted by riruro at 6:10 AM on May 15

posted by samastur at 6:19 AM on May 15

posted by Lawn Beaver at 6:22 AM on May 15

Oh noooo, Alice, Alice... I love her.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:23 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]

posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 6:29 AM on May 15

posted by clavdivs at 6:43 AM on May 15

posted by elkevelvet at 7:19 AM on May 15

posted by redyaky at 7:22 AM on May 15

What a giant. 160 or so stories, nearly all of them great, a good number of them perfect. It’s been too long since my last reread.

posted by reclusive_thousandaire at 7:26 AM on May 15

Didn't read much of her work, but greatly enjoyed what I have read.

posted by May Kasahara at 7:29 AM on May 15

I just read "Train" before bed on Monday night (I am reading BASS 2013, but the story was first in Harper's (here, and ungated here) and reflected on her as an amazing writer, then woke to see this news later in the day on Tuesday.

posted by stevil at 7:51 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


She distilled a huge chunk of the soul of English-language Canada it into art, great art, without ever making it look like she tried too hard. (Which is, of course, terrifically Canadian.)

If you buy into the idea of an after-life, Chekhov is as-we-speak button-holing her, asking her how she did it.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:59 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]

posted by gwint at 8:06 AM on May 15

posted by EvaDestruction at 8:23 AM on May 15

I haven't read that much of her work because things in her books seem all too real, but I'll always (perhaps imprecisely) remember that little sentence (maybe from "Dear Life") -
"She grew up to bargain and preen like the rest of them."

posted by of strange foe at 9:12 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]

I was a voracious reader when I was young, and I read an awful lot of what came into the house(both my parents were readers) and I remember reading some of her work back when I was a teenager in the '70s and quite liking it though I didn't get a lot of what was going on in her precise vivisection of the cultures she inhabited.
Was I got older I read more of her work and I realized just how truly good Alice Munro was.
I always detected a dark under current to her writing, she's grouped in the genre of Southern Ontario Gothic, but I think there was something else, something more distinct; I think it might be the fact that she was completely unique, there was no one quite like her.
An immense talent, and an immense achievement, too, what she put into the world.
As others have said here, I have to go back and revisit some of her work.

posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:08 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]

While at uni I did a course on Commonwealth literature (African, Caribbean and Canadian) and first read her then. Lives of Girls and Women was a revelation.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 11:20 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]

Weeping. Despite her being 92, with a magnificent body of work, and an immeasurable legacy. She changed the genre of the short story. She was beloved in Canada. I don't have much more to say, except that I grew up in a house which shared a back lane with her house in West Vancouver, where her family lived for a few years before moving to Victoria and starting Munro's Books. She had moved out the year before we arrived, but I remember that lane, and walking past the kitchen window many times, the same window she would have looked out from onto the world which she described so exactly, so perfectly. The building where she rented an office to write in, in Dundarave, a couple of blocks away, is still standing (see her story "The Office", where she discovers that the caretaker has been coming into the room and reading her work when she was not there). She gave her life to writing; we are the richer for it, even if she said that her own life had been, as a result, constrained. I saw her read once at the Writer's festival, and she made no comments and took no questions, but to stand and applaud her was, in a sense, an honour. Thank you, Alice.

posted by jokeefe at 11:33 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:16 PM on May 15

posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:31 PM on May 15

posted by cotton dress sock at 2:51 PM on May 15


Loved her work ever since I read Dance of the Happy Shades.
posted by CCBC at 3:46 PM on May 15

I read "Friend of My Youth" when.i was about 17, and it changed everything.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:47 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]

I put off looking at her work for years (the last thing I wanted to read about was stupid rural/small-town South-West Ontario life, like where I grew up near Huron Country). But when I finally picked it up, it was pure genius! She deserved that Nobel (and like many winners, it was probably more of an annoyance than anything by that time).
posted by ovvl at 6:14 PM on May 15

My mother went to university with Alice Munro in the late 1940s. She could tell, at the time, that Munro was patiently, carefully observing everyone around her.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:46 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]

posted by Canageek at 8:15 PM on May 15

She was a terrific writer. I’ve read lots of her short stories, taught a few of them. It’s hard to say what that special something is, but her stories have it. Probably the lifetime of patient observation that Multicellular Exothermic’s mother noted.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:16 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]

posted by kneecapped at 9:26 PM on May 15

posted by Barbara Spitzer at 9:44 PM on May 15

posted by socialjusticeworrier at 11:06 PM on May 15

Short-story writers are habitually shortchanged, but this also means that the ones that break through tend to be brilliant.
posted by ersatz at 5:56 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]

>She was/is a great story teller. I used to interact with her a bit on Twitter before you know who bought it.

I'll eat several hats if Alice Munro had a Twitter account, let alone one where she interacted with readers. I believe you are thinking of Margaret Atwood.
posted by jokeefe at 6:10 PM on May 16

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