Lies of Girls and Women
July 7, 2024 5:31 PM   Subscribe

Andrea Robin Skinner, daughter of revered writer and Nobel laureate Alice Munro, published an essay today in the Toronto Star revealing that she was sexually abused as a child by her stepfather, Munro's husband Gerald Fremlin, and that Munro both knew and did nothing.

Further reporting in the Star by Deborah Dundas and Betsy Powell expands on the story with copies of private letters, court records from Fremlin's eventual guilty plea in court, and the hard-won and moving candor of Andrea and her siblings.

"Now, as they mourn their mother — the literary giant and Nobel laureate — Andrea and her siblings are no longer willing to stay silent. They want the world to continue to adore Alice Munro’s work. They also feel compelled to share what it meant to grow up in her shadow and how protecting her legacy came at a devastating cost for her daughter. The truth, they hope, will bring them healing and empower other victims of sexual assault and their families."

CW for child sexual abuse.
posted by minervous (74 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oof. Betrayal upon betrayal.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:11 PM on July 7 [13 favorites]


Oh, that's just terrible. Still, yes, better that the truth comes out.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:52 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


So many shocking points in those stories. Munro really was a full-on narcissist. Andrea's father was a piece of garbage too. He just ignored it all. They were all garbage.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:57 PM on July 7 [8 favorites]


Here's a statement from Munro's Books, the well known bookstore founded by Andrea's parents in the 1960s and run by the dad until 2014 when the store became independent. There is also a statement there from the Munro siblings.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:06 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]


Wow. I can totally see how this could have happened, and how awful and lonely it must have felt to be Andrea. And as a mother: I just don’t understand it.
posted by samthemander at 7:35 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


I also wanted this story, my story, to become part of the stories people tell about my mother. I never wanted to see another interview, biography or event that didn’t wrestle with the reality of what had happened to me, and with the fact that my mother, confronted with the truth of what had happened, chose to stay with, and protect, my abuser.

It didn't happen when it should have, but it's happened now, and I'm glad. For her and for others who carry a similar pain.
posted by emjaybee at 7:35 PM on July 7 [17 favorites]


Welp I guess I have to go burn all the Munro books in my house just as I did with Bradley's when all the stuff about her came out. Truly disgusting.
posted by sid at 7:56 PM on July 7 [7 favorites]


In addition to the horror I feel on the author’s behalf, I also feel a sense of relief for the loathing I have always felt for Munro’s short stories, which have made me feel as if I was crazy or a philistine. They’re full of cold, unhelpfully precise disdain for her characters, who seem to be inconveniencing her by going about having their own feelings at such length. She writes as a neurasthenic god who has revenge on people by writing arid little defeats for them to suffer.

It’s really no wonder people hate the Literature they’re forced to read in classes and are told is so deep. The heart must be fed, and writers like Alice Munro feed it nothing but salt.
posted by argybarg at 8:09 PM on July 7 [44 favorites]


From the NYT story about this:
In a letter, she told her mother what Fremlin had done to her. Rather than reacting with sympathy, Skinner said, Munro “reacted exactly as I had feared she would, as if she had learned of an infidelity.”

Munro left Fremlin, going to stay at a condo she owned in British Columbia. Fremlin wrote letters to the family, Skinner said, in which he admitted to the abuse but blamed it on her.

When she went to the police in 2005, she took these letters.

“He described my 9-year-old self as a ‘homewrecker,’” Skinner wrote. According to Skinner’s essay and the article in the Toronto Star, Fremlin accused her of invading his bedroom “for sexual adventure" in one of the letters he wrote to the family.

“If the worst comes to worst I intend to go public,” Fremlin wrote, according to Skinner’s essay. “I will make available for publication a number of photographs, notably some taken at my cabin near Ottawa which are extremely eloquent … one of Andrea in my underwear shorts.”

Despite all this, Skinner wrote, Munro went back to Fremlin and remained with him for the rest of his life.
This is just so, so, so, so bad and sad. My own mother looked the other way when a stepfather abused me (to a much smaller degree than this) and it remains a permanent wound in our relationship, decades later. I can't imagine the pain that Andrea has dealt with over the course of her entire life, from age 9 onward. Truly, fuck this shit and especially may Fremlin rot in hell for his actions and for blaming a child for his own choices.

And what kind of logic does it follow that his photographs of her during the abuse would implicate the child? Instead of the adult male taking the photos???? It just boggles my mind, all of it.
posted by knotty knots at 9:32 PM on July 7 [39 favorites]


Jesus Christ, how awful. Just monstrous on the part of not only her stepfather but also Alice Munro herself. I am glad that Andrea is finally able to tell her story and receive support from her siblings and hopefully the general public.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:55 PM on July 7 [6 favorites]


Damn. Well, I'm always gonna think of this story whenever I think of Alice Munro from now on. It's so heartbreaking how abuse tears families apart. I hope getting the truth of what happened to her out into the world helps Andrea heal.
posted by signsofrain at 10:24 PM on July 7 [5 favorites]


This is sickening and heartbreaking. Munro had been my favorite author. It's interesting to me to note that many/most of her stories featured the awful behavior of men and I remember at least one story about sexual abuse of a girl. (This has no bearing on fully believing the allegations , I just find it interesting in a very sad way. I guess i would have expected more from her.)
posted by bearette at 4:45 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Wow. She told her stepmother about the abuse after it happened, who told her father, and not only did they not confront anyone about it, they allowed her to keep visiting her mom and stepfather for years while the abuse continued.
posted by bearette at 5:16 AM on July 8 [12 favorites]


at least one story about sexual abuse of a girl

You're probably thinking of "Vandals", from the now-horrifyingly named collection Open Secrets. From the last link:

In the end, [Munro] went back to him. “Alice wasn’t able to sustain being alone and being apart from him,” Sheila says. “She told me that she couldn’t live without him.”

The next book of Munro’s to be published was “Open Secrets,” in 1994. These lines were in the story “Vandals”:
“When Ladner grabbed Liza and squashed himself against her, she had a sense of danger deep inside him, a mechanical sputtering, as if he would exhaust himself in one jab of light, and nothing would be left of him but black smoke and burnt smells and frazzled wires …
“Bea … had forgiven Ladner, after all, or made a bargain not to remember.”
That Munro could write about abuse like that, and then continue with her own bargain not to remember, is so damning.
posted by mediareport at 5:30 AM on July 8 [5 favorites]


This is pretty awful and disappointing, and will and should absolutely taint Munro's legacy. As someone mentioned above, this is reminiscent of the shocking stories that came out about Marion Zimmer Bradley after her death.
posted by fortitude25 at 5:38 AM on July 8 [6 favorites]


Okay, so here's something I don't talk about in public but it's relevant to this discussion so.

My older stepsister sexually abused me and my sister for YEARS. And no one believed us. And my dad and stepmom do not believe us now.

It very much sucks to have a parent stay or continue to have an abuser in their lives and disregard what you say.
posted by Kitteh at 6:17 AM on July 8 [54 favorites]


Sorry, my mom and stepdad believed us but my dad ignored any attempts from them. By that time, we were out of high school and the shame just became too great.
posted by Kitteh at 6:27 AM on July 8 [10 favorites]


And as a mother: I just don’t understand it.

“mother” is not some universal identity. lots of mothers are really awful. you don’t share anything with them.
posted by knock my sock and i'll clean your clock at 6:56 AM on July 8 [30 favorites]


I think maybe I'll just stop reading. All the authors I loved turned out to be horrible monsters.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:08 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


I hear you grumpybear69. I'm a big fan of Munro's stories.

What surprises me is that this story didn't come out when Fremlin was first convicted.
posted by storybored at 8:18 AM on July 8 [10 favorites]


The family's view on Munro's legacy:

"Speaking up, the family understands, will carry a cost. They expect a wide range of reactions, not all of them positive. They are worried about what this will do to Munro’s reputation, hoping that the stories will stand for themselves, and that this might lead to a more robust understanding of her as a writer.
“I still feel she’s such a great writer — she deserved the Nobel,” says Sheila. “She devoted her life to it, and she manifested this amazing talent and imagination. And that’s all, really, she wanted to do in her life. Get those stories down and get them out.”

But all of them agree, this story too must come out.
“I want so much for my personal story to focus on patterns of silencing, the tendency to do that in families and societies,” Andrea says
.
posted by storybored at 8:25 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it was clear that the children weren't out to tarnish Munro's legacy but give the kind of context that should be included in it. But once the news was released into the wild, they may not get that result.
posted by Kitteh at 8:38 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


I liked Munro's stories quite a bit - but I definitely see the coldness that some others have mentioned.

As a childhood SA survivor myself, it's incredibly important to have the truth out there. I'm sure the survivors are facing a lot of pressure to let the past be the past. But telling their truth feels like chipping away at years of lies so many of us have carried on with in the name of "protecting" people who did not protect us as children.

No more silences.
posted by pantarei70 at 9:11 AM on July 8 [8 favorites]


The part that strikes me about this - having been around and with victims/survivors of childhood SA and incest - is how completely "normal" and thoroughly disappointing Munro's reaction was. I don't think a single person I know had what we'd hope would be the correct parental reaction. The closest I've know was one kid who's dad's reaction was to want to go beat the crap out of the accused, which is dandy, but did shit to help the kid deal with the trauma.

Mostly they were met with denial - the closer into the family structure, the worse and more vehement it became.

So, once again, the monsters are plenty and banal.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:50 AM on July 8 [15 favorites]


Somehow it's easier to side with the accused and deny everything, because that way your life isn't upset.

I don't get this logic, but it seems to win out over and over again.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:15 AM on July 8 [8 favorites]


How utterly horrible.
I have a family member whose stepdad went after her (very young) son. She somehow forgave her Mom after the stepdad was thrown in jail. I can't even.
posted by luckynerd at 12:14 PM on July 8


Somehow it's easier to side with the accused and deny everything, because that way your life isn't upset.

I don't get this logic, but it seems to win out over and over again.


All I can think is that other people are either so much better at compartmentalization, or just lacking in imagination of any vividness, because I feel like the moment that knowledge hit my brain my life would be utterly, permanently upset, no matter what happened externally???

And I'm not just talking out of my ass about how my virtuous ideal self would react; I have in fact been given disturbing info about a relative who had passed away, and it was like welp this is ruined now, this was actually ALWAYS ruined, turns out, and this is a thing I cannot un-know or ever feel okay about. The image of an act I never witnessed is nonetheless there, lodged in my brain, changing everything. Pretending nothing had happened would not have un-upset my life in the slightest. The knowledge is the upset.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:35 PM on July 8 [10 favorites]


Why do people so often stay with the very person who did awful, terrible things to ANY children, much less their very own children? I just don't understand the psychology of it, and why it's so common. I think if I saw their face ever again I'd vomit... can't even imagine having sex with them after that.
posted by oh__lol at 12:48 PM on July 8 [12 favorites]


I had to nope out of a Facebook thread on this very topic but it seems Mefi is less agoniste about the whole thing.

I really love munro’s stories and what I am thinking about now is how much she wrote about women struggling with identities beyond being a mother.

Her generation, finding any kind of spouse who left you alone to do your work and didn’t make life a nightmare probably meant a lot. I am not excusing her, but making art especially for ‘moms’ is often considered a pretty selfish act. Kids are supposed to be the result of your generative activity.

Am I surprised she struck a bunch of bad bargains to be able to keep writing - not at all. Can I forgive the person, no. Can I understand why a writer would do it?? That part I am absolutely struggling with. Obviously were she a male writer, there would have been no concern that his children were being abused right under his eye.
posted by MirJoy at 12:59 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


I'd doubt it's just compartmentalization or lack of imagination. Munro's "cold precise disdain" argybarg mentioned clearly isn't limited to just her characters. If she can deny her daughter this way, then she'd have that same dysempathy and disregard for anyone "inconveniencing her by going about having their own feelings."

This kind of thing is actually very predictable dark triad/narcissistic/cluster B personality disorder behavior. It's extremely self-serving and reminiscent of my own narcissist father, as well as an ex's narcissist mother who similarly allowed her daughter's abuse. These types are deeply fucking sick and deranged, more beast than human in my eyes. I'm glad Andrea Skinner brought her abuser to justice and is letting the world know who her mother really is.
posted by tovarisch at 1:00 PM on July 8


And MirJoy, it's really glib and sexist of you to claim that this abuse would've been fine with any "male writer."
posted by tovarisch at 1:02 PM on July 8 [13 favorites]


Many years ago, when I was a young teen, a friend told me that her stepfather was sexually abusing her. I told my own mother, who alerted the authorities, and the man was charged and did federal jail time. During the trial, many shocking details emerged, but the most disturbing to me was her mother's comment that she knew about the abuse, but preferred that her husband "'go to' her [then- 12 year-old] daughter for sex rather than having an affair or 'seeing' a prostitute."

Stories like this one make me wonder how common that kind of reaction is from a parent.This woman was betrayed by so many people, including her own mother and her father (the latter of whom, I note, seems to get a bit of a pass in these articles). I was vaguely aware of this story years ago, when Fremlin was convicted, but somehow it faded from public discussion, which is also very disturbing. I admired Munro's stories but never liked them, although this is a level of evil that I never imagined.

I'm glad to see Andrea speaking her truth, and I hope her and her siblings' healing continues.
posted by rpfields at 1:14 PM on July 8 [14 favorites]


Michelle Dean has written something incredible about this.
posted by minervous at 4:01 PM on July 8 [16 favorites]


Obviously were she a male writer, there would have been no concern that his children were being abused right under his eye.

right statistically he would be the abuser
posted by knock my sock and i'll clean your clock at 4:10 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


One aspect that has elicited clenched teeth from me - the abuser identifying as Humbert and casting the child as Lolita.

Maybe as an old woman, my life has been statistically skewed, but I have NEVER met a woman who identified as a Lolita and yet I can cite MULTIPLE examples of men who identify as Humbert.

I keep thinking that for a proper movie adaptation of the book, a close relative of Cousin It should play Lolita, because Nabokov knows these men as viciously unreliable.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 4:19 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Am I surprised she struck a bunch of bad bargains to be able to keep writing - not at all. Can I forgive the person, no. Can I understand why a writer would do it?? That part I am absolutely struggling with.

As a female writer with children, this is a grotesque statement and I think you need to reconsider your idea that any parent, mother or otherwise is willing to let their child be raped for the sake of their own art.
posted by Jilder at 6:36 PM on July 8 [9 favorites]


As a female writer with children, this is a grotesque statement and I think you need to reconsider your idea that any parent, mother or otherwise is willing to let their child be raped for the sake of their own art.

But is is demonstrably true that some parents don't act in the best interest of their children. Many parents fail to "see" their kids as individuals, separate from them. Or view their children's needs as inconveniences being done at them. Heck, some parents traffic their own kids. We can't ignore the realities of this, because doing so ignores the realities of children's actual circumstances.

I am proud of Andrea for coming forward, and for her siblings supporting her. I am sorry her childhood was stolen and her plight ignored by the people who should have protected her.
posted by Sauter Vaguely at 7:32 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


I am confused by the behaviour of Andrea Munro's (as she was) father and stepmother, who did not alert Munro, and who kept sending Andrea back East in the summer to visit her mother and stepfather, which seems at best denial and at worst scandalous indifference. I know "things were different back then"; I lived through those years myself as a teenager, and carry my own scars as a result. But sixteen years of silence is astonishing, and I can see Munro being blindsided by the truth when it was finally told to her, and to consider it an event long past. She did, albeit temporarily, leave her husband, but then made whatever bargain she was going to make and returned, a situation she could have no doubt exquisitely dissected in her fiction, as she was always interested in the deals we strike to manage living our lives.

As for Munro's art, I follow the old adage: Trust the art, not the artist. Not the frail and human vessel, but the products of that incredible mind, which illuminated so many dark and even strange corners of the human experience. I consider Fremlin to be the first villain here, then Andrea's father, who took no action and did nothing to protect her, not even telling her mother what had happened, and finally Munro, who faced a choice and failed to be the ethical individual we would have wanted her to be. The letters Fremlin wrote are beyond belief. That he blamed Andrea, and threatened to "go public" in his letters with photographs that he thought would demonstrate her culpability (!) in this situation shows that he was utterly out of touch. Yet I imagine that Munro wanted the stability of her life as she neared her 70s, wanted her life with her husband and the support system he provided for her writing, which reached its greatest heights while they shared their lives in the house had been born in.

Andrea Skinner has made it clear that she wants to tear down Munro's reputation as an artist because her family treated her heinously. She stated that she wants her abuse to be the shadow attached to every interview, article, or review. I won't say she's wrong. I understand, as much as I can, her impulse to shout this counter narrative to the literary canonisation of her mother. But I cannot reject Munro's work and will not. Many, many writers who have committed worse crimes against their families were honoured with the Nobel, too. It's not a great company to be in, but god knows we are all fragile and even corruptible human beings, given the right circumstances. Munro's work remains unstained for me because I need it to be. And that's my miniature devil's bargain, I suppose.
posted by jokeefe at 8:06 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Oh God, Alice Munro told her daughter about "that story in Marine Life", which is titled "White Shoulders" and was written by Linda Svendsen. Munro blurbed the collection, saying that the story "left her shaking". That's pretty much the reaction of anyone I know who has read it.
posted by jokeefe at 9:21 PM on July 8


Stories like this one make me wonder how common that kind of reaction is from a parent.

I know nothing about the circumstances of this particular case, but as a criminal defence advocate for the last 20+ years, the answer is 'very common'.

In fact, I'd say in my own experience it's more common than not. It never ceases to amaze me. Stepdads leaving the marital bed every night and disappearing for an hour goes unremarked on. Mothers turn against their daughters after the disclosure of the abuse. Happens all the time.

As to why? Human relations are complicated, and I don't think there is a simple explanation. In some cases, the abusers are manipulative people who are just as adept at manipulating the victim as thay are the victim's mum. In other cases, there are issues of isolation and financial dependence: the mother turns a bind eye so that she may keep a roof over her and the other kids' heads. In other cases, the mother knows and sanctions the abuse so as to buy herself some kind of peace and freedom from sexual predation herself. As to what could have motivated Alice Monroe to remain silent in the face of this abuse I could not possibly guess.
posted by tim_in_oz at 10:42 PM on July 8 [12 favorites]


I've known people - often people who had a hard life themselves - who just cut out unpleasant things from their conscious memory as a survival strategy. I was never sure if they truly edited their memories or just pretended so hard things didn't happen that they refused to acknowledge them in any way. They're both dead now, so I'll never know. In one case it led to staying in an abusive situation with her child, natch (though as far as I know it was mostly mental violence and some physical, but not sexual), in the other utter denial of abuse perpetrated by self. People build their whole personalities on "that didn't happen".
posted by I claim sanctuary at 10:57 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


This is enormously sad. Years ago, reading "Silence" from the collection "Runaway," I was moved by how _off_ the mother was, how blinded by her own self to the suffering of her daughter. It was written around the time her daughter came forward and _now_ it all clicks together. Horribly.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:16 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


I claim sanctuary, _Betrayal Trauma_ and _Blind to Betrayal_ by Jennifer Freyd have a lot about how much people forget abuse by people they're dependent on, sometimes literally forgetting during the day what's happening at night.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:04 AM on July 9


and I can see Munro being blindsided by the truth when it was finally told to her, and to consider it an event long past.

we have no idea whether she had suspicions, what her sleazy husband told her all that time, or whether anyone else raised the question. if you’re going to use your imagination, there are other possibilities to consider.
posted by knock my sock and i'll clean your clock at 5:39 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


drewbage1847 wrote:
The part that strikes me about this - having been around and with victims/survivors of childhood SA and incest - is how completely "normal" and thoroughly disappointing Munro's reaction was. I don't think a single person I know had what we'd hope would be the correct parental reaction. ...

Mostly they were met with denial - the closer into the family structure, the worse and more vehement it became.
Thank-you, that is so useful to know. Now if I run into this situation I will be aware of my likely reaction - to ignore/suppress it - and will be better able, I hope, to act instead.
posted by one more day at 7:36 AM on July 9


Jesus, it’s hard to read people still stanning Munro here after this revelation:
In spite of the letters and threats, my mother went back to Fremlin, and stayed with him until he died in 2013. She said that she had been “told too late,” she loved him too much, and that our misogynistic culture was to blame if I expected her to deny her own needs, sacrifice for her children, and make up for the failings of men. She was adamant that whatever had happened was between me and my stepfather. It had nothing to do with her.

Really? We’re going to do the “separate the art from the artist” thing? She didn’t feel like being inconvenienced and was willing to handwave yatta yatta the patriarchy not my prob over her daughter’s abuse?

Fuck her. Dig a pit and bury her goddamn books. I hope “abuse enabler” sticks to her like Super Glue till the heat death of the universe.
posted by the sobsister at 8:29 AM on July 9 [14 favorites]


A biographer of the Canadian writer says he was among those who knew that Munro’s daughter had been sexually abused by her stepfather
Thacker said that Skinner wrote to him about her experience in 2005, after she had contacted police about Fremlin, and as Thacker’s book was going to press. He decided not to act on the information... Others who worked closely with Munro knew about Skinner’s experience, Thacker said: “Certainly people knew there was a burden she was dealing with.” He declined to name specific individuals, but said he had spoken with a colleague about their anticipation that Munro’s family secret would be shared with the world, and that both had resolved to confirm that they had known earlier.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:47 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I think that acknowledging that Munro's reaction fits into the norm, sadly, is a hard truth to face. It's easier to categorize people into good/evil and be on our way. Instead I think we should be taking a hard look at ourselves and our society.

It's fine and understandable to cast blame and judgment on munro and get rid of her books. However we shouldn't pretend that she's an anomaly and that this doesn't happen all the time. Maybe this is an opportunity to shed light on this horrible reality.
posted by bearette at 8:58 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


"our misogynistic culture was to blame" BULLSHIT.

Beverly Cleary wrote in A Girl From Yamhill that a cousin's husband was never left alone with the young girls in the family after she told her mother that he was starting to creep on her. This was in 1925.

I will never forgive my biological excuse of a mother for leaving me with her stepfather when she knew from her own experience that he was a molester. That he "paid the bills" does not negate this.
posted by brujita at 9:13 AM on July 9 [10 favorites]


Wow, Robert Thacker, that biographer in BungaDunga's link, contorts himself mightily as he tries to justify ignoring what Skinner told him in 2005, and what Munro confirmed to him in a restaurant in 2008 ("Munro asked him to turn off his recorder"), in his book about - wait for it - the connections between Munro's life and her stories.

“Clearly she hoped — or she hoped at that time, anyway — that I would make it public,” he told The Post on Monday. “I wasn’t prepared to do that. And the reason I wasn’t prepared to do that is that, it wasn’t that kind of book. I wasn’t writing a tell-all biography.

What a garbage excuse. Spend a few minutes flipping through Thacker's biography at Google Books, or just read the Prologue; it's *full* of exactly the kind of links between specific stories and aspects of Munro's history that would have connected "Vandals" and the abuse of Andrea. On page 6 he calls it "a central issue in the art of Alice Munro: her stories mostly begin in 'real life.'" But that incredibly direct and revealing link was somehow not relevant to his book?

I'm trying to imagine being Andrea Skinner when an entire book about the connections between her mother's life and fiction was published by an author who knew about her abuse but completely ignored it in his discussion of "Vandals" and "Open Secrets."

According to Thacker, it was broadly understood that she drew from events in her life for her 1993 story “Vandals,” about a woman who represses the knowledge that her partner sexually abused children: “Those of us who [study] Alice, or have [studied] Alice, have always thought that this story directly connected to this whole issue.”

"But we then buried that information."

I know there are more important things to focus on in this mess, but this aspect really bothers me. So *many* people knew, and let Andrea Skinner suffer alone for years. Fuck Robert Thacker's excuses, and the excuses of anyone else who knew and did nothing to help her.
posted by mediareport at 11:31 AM on July 9 [16 favorites]


I'm seriously all, "dude, you had the biggest bombshell dropped on you about your subject, and you just...didn't mention it?" Didn't think it was your place to tell all in a biography? Thought it was too trashy? Thought it'd harm your subject matter? Hurt your book sales to make things sad and bad?

Makes you look like an ass years later when this comes out, as he knew it would, and now has to fess up to his weak-ass reasons for not telling.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:34 PM on July 9 [6 favorites]


Tragedy.

It's good that her siblings managed to come out through the dome of silence, better late than never, it's hard to break.

It sounds crazy that Fremlin's 2005 conviction just slid under the radar. That biographer sounds like a real coward. It's so weird that no journalists at the time made any comment about it?

I think that when she was young Alice Munro grew up with suppressed family sexual abuse, perhaps not as a personal victim but maybe adjacent. And silence walking around these issues seemed natural, as it did at the time.

There is an undertone of repression in her writing that perhaps now takes on a new perspective for interpretation. I do think that she was a genius writer, one of the best authors of the late 20th century. As far as the blame-game goes, she might have also been a traumatized victim in a different way, which is not quite an excuse.
posted by ovvl at 5:31 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


There is an undertone of repression in her writing that perhaps now takes on a new perspective for interpretation. I do think that she was a genius writer, one of the best authors of the late 20th century.
I do not fault anyone for not wanting to read Alice Munro going forward or for throwing out the books or selling them or whatever. Everyone can make up their own mind about how they want to engage with a text. Some people are inclined to separate the art they consume from the artist who created it and are able to do that with relative ease. Others are less inclined to do that - and for good reason.

What matters most is that if her work is read, it is read with a giant * asterisk and all that comes with that *. Read it, but read it in context, with the understanding that her abuse will shape how much of her work is interpreted and critiqued going forward.
posted by Fizz at 10:18 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]


Fuck her. Dig a pit and bury her goddamn books.

Baby. Bathwater.

You would have to burn the majority of literature in English if you only want to preserve works produced by those who acted well in their private lives. Did you know that Shakespeare's daughters were illiterate?

I am sure that pencils are being sharpened among graduate programs across the land, and that interpretations of Munro's work informed by this information will be arriving soon and that her stories will be trawled for relevant subtext forever more, so it's not like her actions or lack of them are going to be forgotten. I also am aghast at how Fremlin pleaded guilty to indecent assault in 2005 and not one news outlet or reporter commented, likely out of respect for Munro and/or fear of rocking the national boat. But no matter how culpable she might have been, her husband is the one who needs to be put into a pit. I have no doubt that he had other victims--we may hear from them soon--and his letters trying to justify his assaults made my skin crawl.

Really? We’re going to do the “separate the art from the artist” thing?

Yep. At least I am, though I know I'm the minority here. As far as I can tell, about the only artist who I could consider morally (pretty much) spotless in this sad world was Pete Seeger.
posted by jokeefe at 10:53 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


I have just reread “ Vandals” and “Labor Day Weekend”. It had never occurred to me that the humiliated woman could be reflective of Munro herself. Now it seems possible—but mind-boggling
posted by uans at 11:44 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


The often brilliant Brandon Taylor on Alice Munro and art monster discourse.
posted by ssg at 2:28 PM on July 10 [15 favorites]


It is not complicated. It is not complex. Alice Munro stayed with the man who molested her daughter. Not only that, but she stayed with a man who, when confronted with his information, wrote the family letters explaining how the child victim was in fact a “homewrecker” and seducer. Not only that, but she expressed a justification in choosing her own happiness because after all, what had been done had been done.

This is the most characteristic thing Munro could have said. In her stories, epiphany and revelation often take the form of accepting the crude and brutal terrain of the past for what it is and setting one’s shoulder to wheel to get on with living. What I love about her stories is that they come with an aftermath. They dare to offer the reader a glimpse into that rarely seen world to come. When the choice has been made and one has to get on with it. I was told too late. I loved him too much. Is that not the most Alice Munro thing you have ever read?


That last sentence-- it's as much on point as Nicole Cliffe's brilliant send up, from The Toast (of blessed memory), entitled, I think, How to know you are in an Alice Munro story: "You kill your husband. Decades later, you realise that it doesn't matter."

Taylor's essay has a couple of timeline errors, and doesn't, I think, fully engage with Munro's ignorance of what Fremlin had done for the 16 years or so between the abuse and the letter in which Andrea Skinner revealed it to her, and I haven't found in any article the assertion that Munro actually did know; that she should have guessed, yes, but those involved have stated she wasn't told. Why wasn't she warned, why wasn't she told that her husband was pretty much a full-on pedophile, and dangerous? Who knows, at this point.

She had a choice to believe and protect her daughter in the face of the revelations, even after her daughter, decades later, took Fremlin to court and won, but she chose to stay. And people seem amazed by that. What kind of mother? What kind of person? What kind of woman? etc. Well, any kind of mother. Any kind of person. Any kind of woman. She made a choice and justified it to herself through any number of inversions or self-delusions, who can say. But is this really so shocking? People do this every day.

Absolutely. (Though again, the timeline: it was 13 years after Skinner wrote the letter to Munro and she took Fremlin to court. Long enough, but not decades.) But people do this every day, oh yes they do and I have known a woman who chose her partner over her daughter, even in the face of his physical abuse.

This is not a perfect essay but it is the best thing I have read so far, I think.
posted by jokeefe at 8:48 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


They’re full of cold, unhelpfully precise disdain for her characters, who seem to be inconveniencing her by going about having their own feelings at such length. She writes as a neurasthenic god who has revenge on people by writing arid little defeats for them to suffer.

It’s really no wonder people hate the Literature they’re forced to read in classes and are told is so deep. The heart must be fed, and writers like Alice Munro feed it nothing but salt.


I can't say that you are utterly wrong, because this is true for you and so then, fine; but hundreds of thousands of readers would be aghast at such a description of her work. There is a reason why her writing is so beloved, and her insight and human compassion is a huge part of it. "Revenge on people"? "Arid little defeats"? "Nothing but salt"? No, and no again. Be contrary if you want, but this is a take of her writing that I've literally never seen before. Anyway.
posted by jokeefe at 9:16 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]


I have, when confronted with these things sometimes been able to separate the artist from the art and sometimes immediately the art has been tainted and I have never been able to engage with it again. It's not that I feel like I shoudn't and so I don't. It's that I really just can't. It's gross. I don't want to. I can't see it, hear it, watch it, without thinking about the thing that was done. And so I think the rule for me -- and this is an empirical observation I am making about the choices I have made, not a rule that I am saying the whole world should be following -- is that I can separate the art from the artist when a person has repulsive opinions. I cannot separate the art from artist when the artist has engaged in/participated in etc. assault/abuse against specific individuals. Tweet something awful. Go on some awful rant and I won't be a fan of yours or anything but I might still be able to watch an old funny movie you made. But if you sexually assault somebody (or condone it while somebody else does) or beat somebody up then I will never enjoy your art.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:45 AM on July 11 [7 favorites]


On my walk to work, Shepherd and I spotted a Munro hardback left at the end of someone's driveway. Given that that area is rife with Little Free Libraries and it didn't get put in one, I would guess that that person is not going to give Munro's work any more thought.
posted by Kitteh at 7:28 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Yep. At least I am, though I know I'm the minority here

certainly no one is going to stop you from loving alice munro. the thing i find strange is the assertion of it over and over. that’s the kind of reaction taylor is speaking to. whether or not to keep reading her is, he says, maybe the least interesting question.
posted by knock my sock and i'll clean your clock at 8:31 AM on July 11 [7 favorites]


Another thing about the "person did a bad thing" ethical dilemma is even if you decide you can still enjoy the artist's work, or focus on people who didn't assault people, you really can't (or shouldn't, I suppose) recommend anyone else peruse their work. I can't say "watch Buffy!" without someone saying "But Joss" any more, and god knows you can't rewatch The Cosby Show for the rest of the cast.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:46 AM on July 11 [2 favorites]


I've lost interest in Munro because of this. The associations are just too troubling. Too many people in my own family have excused or enabled various kinds of abuse. (I am perplexed by my own tendency to blame the enablers more than the abusers. But I was heartbroken when told a now-dead female family member had said she "felt terrible" for ignoring what happened to one victim. But she never mentioned that to the victim themselves-- which I now also see as fairly typical.)

What I really don't know what to do with is Away From Her, directed by Sarah Polley and based on "The Bear Came Over the Mountain." I love everything Polley has been in or directed and that's one of my favorites. Bits of dialogue from the film keep popping into my head since this revelation. Some of them may not have been written by Munro but I'm too grossed out by her right now to go check.
posted by BibiRose at 9:38 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I actually re-watched Away From Her AND re-read The Bear Came Over The Mountain this week. The timeline is that Andrea Skinner told Munro about Fremlin's abuse in 1995, Munro published TBCOTM in the New Yorker in 1999, and Polley made Away From Her in 2006. So I too was thinking about Fiona holding on to Grant's past infidelities, and wondering if Munro was actually referring to Andrea!

The short story and the film are suprisingly different. Back when I watched the film, the short story was a distant memory, so I wasn't able to really compare them then. But now, I'm shocked at how much Polley changed in her adaptation.

Here's the main part of TBCOTM story that could track to Andrea's letters, I shortened it a bit-

In a dream [Grant] showed a letter to one of his colleagues. The letter was from the roommate of a girl he had not thought of for a while and was sanctimonious and hostile, threatening in a whining way. The girl herself was someone he had parted from decently and it seemed unlikely that she would want to make a fuss, let alone try to kill herself, which was what the letter was elaborately trying to tell him she had done. [....]
[Then the dream shifted to a lecture hall.] Everybody was waiting there for him to teach his class. And sitting in the last, highest row was a flock of cold-eyed young women all in black robes, all in mourning, who never took their bitter stares off him, and pointedly did not write down, or care about, anything he was saying.
Fiona was in the first row, untroubled. “Oh phooey,” she said. “Girls that age are always going around talking about how they’ll kill themselves.”
He hauled himself out of the dream, took pills, and set about separating what was real from what was not.
There had been a letter, and the word “rat” had appeared in black paint on his office door, and Fiona, on being told that a girl had suffered from a bad crush on him, had said pretty much what she said in the dream. [...]
Grant hadn’t been disgraced. In fact, he had got off easy when you thought of what might have happened just a couple of years later. But word got around. Cold shoulders became conspicuous. They had few Christmas invitations and spent New Year’s Eve alone. Grant got drunk, and without its being required of him—also, thank God, without making the error of a confession—he promised Fiona a new life.
Nowhere had there been any acknowledgment that the life of a philanderer (if that was what Grant had to call himself [...] involved acts of generosity, and even sacrifice. Many times he had catered to a woman’s pride, to her fragility, by offering more affection—or a rougher passion— than anything he really felt. All so that he could now find himself accused of wounding and exploiting and destroying self-esteem.
And of deceiving Fiona—as, of course, he had. But would it have been better if he had done as others had done with their wives, and left her? He had never thought of such a thing. He had never stopped making love to Fiona. He had not stayed away from her for a single night. [... ] he had continued to publish papers, serve on committees, make progress in his career.
[Then Grant retired and they moved to their cabin, away from the heady university].... Just in time, Grant was able to think, when the sense of injustice had worn down. The feminists and perhaps the sad silly girl herself and his cowardly so-called friends had pushed him out just in time. Out of a life that was in fact getting to be more trouble than it was worth. And that might eventually have cost him Fiona.


So much yuck there! But that is not remotely a part of the film - the film is shockingly less problematic and I didn't see anything that clearly could track to Andrea in any obvious way.

Polley completely removed all mention of that young girl, the letter, and the dream sequence. In the film, Polley doesn't suggest Grant had been a serial philanderer the way Munro painted him in the story. The film only focusses on ONE past affair - Fiona obliquely mentions it by telling Grant "don't be nervous, it's a good story" as she recounts a brief dinner party conversation she had with one of Grant's university students, a Czech woman named Veronica. Then there's a brief flash of a 20something dark-haired woman drinking wine at a dinner party.

Polley wrote the whole sequence where Grant tells Kristy the nurse that he wonders if Fiona is "punishing him" by faking dementia, leading Kristy to intuit that Grant is referring to past infidelity. Polley also wrote the scene in which Kristy derides Grant for cheating, and says he probably "wasn't always the doggedly devoted husband," and, "and in my experience, at the end of things, it's almost always the men who think that 'not too much went wrong.' I wonder if your wife feels the same way".

Basically Polley made Grant much less villainous by removing so many infidelities, AND she chastised Grant very directly even for that one infidelity by massively expanding the role of Kristy the nurse (a small character in the story who only talks abut nurse-things).

With Gerald Fremlin's pedophilia in mind, the story is now haunting and gross, and I felt sick reading it.

But the film doesn't feel like Fremlin apologia at all. By removing most of Grant's past, limiting it to ONE affair with an older student, Polley made the story and the character hugely less problematic, and by challenging Grant in his present, she also made it more feminist and balanced. Comparing the story and film back to back, you really see the skill she brought to shaping, pruning, and expanding the story. It's an EXCELLENT, actually masterful, adaptation.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:52 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


I actually re-watched Away From Her AND re-read The Bear Came Over The Mountain this week.

Thanks so much for this, nouvelle-personne!

Kristy, played by Kristen Thomson, was my favorite character in that movie! That speech about, "it's almost always the men who think that 'not too much went wrong" is one I keep remembering and I'm glad to hear it's Polley's work.

I also loved what Julie Christie and Olympia Dukakis did with their roles. All powerful characters, in the words they were given and in the casting itself, I think. I'll have to re-watch and see what I think of Grant.
posted by BibiRose at 11:36 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


in the Toronto Star today: Alice Munro told me her daughter was lying about being molested by her stepdad: OPP detective

Reflecting on Munro’s reaction that day, Lazarevich said it’s far from the first time he’s encountered parents who ignore sexual abuse for “whatever reason,” be it love, fear, dependency or the belief they can “just try and make sure that she’s not home by herself, or try and make sure I’m always around.”

After his decades in the criminal justice system, Morris has also seen many cases like this where “families have hidden secrets.”

He hopes Skinner’s disclosure and the ensuing media coverage are a positive development, “in a sense that it shines the light on abuse that was hidden and often continues because no one ever exposes it. So, in that sense, I think it’s good so in the future people, perhaps predators, might realize that they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing and there are consequences.”


lots of people agree there’s more going on here than the family ~trying to tarnish her reputation~ and in fact think that telling the truth was brave. enjoy her books, i guess.
posted by knock my sock and i'll clean your clock at 8:36 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


certainly no one is going to stop you from loving alice munro. the thing i find strange is the assertion of it over and over. that’s the kind of reaction taylor is speaking to. whether or not to keep reading her is, he says, maybe the least interesting question.

Thank you, I will retain my joy in her work, and resist the temptation to dissect every story for its relevance, or not, to Munro's family and private life. Taylor in many ways is incredibly astute in the essay, but he is wrong when he says that whether or not to keep reading her is "the least interesting question". As a question, it is in fact essential. Seeing that the abuse has become public, the question of what to do now--given that all the adults involved except for Andrea's stepmother, Carol, are dead--is immediate. Its flames will burn intensely and for a very long time. Toss her books in a recycling box and post the photo on Instagram? Cancel the planned Alice Munro Chair in Creative Writing at Western, the university where she studied for two years because that was how long her scholarship ran, and where at its conclusion she faced a choice of marry or return home? Declarations of disgust and rejection for her entire body of work? Readers of literature in English are resetting their relationships to her writing across the board, some saying they will never read her again, others that they will burn her books in a pile, others declaring that they feel sick even seeing the books on a shelf. Some on Twitter demanding that she be stripped of the Nobel. And so on. The demand for punishment.

I just wish, in some world, one day, that articles like the one in The Atlantic ("Alice Munro was a Terrible Mother!") might be balanced by equal criticism of all the men who personally perpetrated abuse and were also considered great writers, and who weren't excoriated in such a public way. Saul Bellow, Faulkner, Cheever, Thomas Mann, Updike, Joyce, etcetera. I'm just.... tired. And blame me if you want, but I don't understand how shattering Munro's reputation, so very hard won as a woman writing to establish herself in the 60s and 70s, and so easily, apparently, damaged in ways we haven't fully apprehended yet, is personally healing for Andrea Skinner. Reconciling with her siblings, taking Fremlin to court and seeing him found guilty: yes. But is there really healing in announcing it to the world? That's the narrative, but is it true? I suppose only Skinner can answer that.
posted by jokeefe at 12:30 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Regardless of whether it's "healing" for Skinner or not, she has the absolute right to tell her story. Munro told her own for decades, and her daughter is under no obligation to be silent.

Anne Lamott is a much slighter writer than Munro, but I've always liked this quote from Bird by Bird:
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
posted by adrienneleigh at 1:03 AM on July 14 [12 favorites]


And blame me if you want, but I don't understand how shattering Munro's reputation, so very hard won as a woman writing to establish herself in the 60s and 70s, and so easily, apparently, damaged in ways we haven't fully apprehended yet, is personally healing for Andrea Skinner.

I don't "blame" you, whatever that means, but it's very easy to understand why Andrea would want to make sure her story is always told alongside the hagiographic ones Munro and her critics, biographers and fans deliberately cultivated for her over the years. You might benefit from re-reading the fourth link in the original post, which discusses at length the feelings of Andrea Skinner's siblings as Munro started to mentally decline:

In their grief, the Munro children longed for their estranged sister. Even Alice, during periods of lucidity, was worried about Andrea, Jenny says, and wanted to do something. The family was hurting, and ashamed: they wanted to find a way to heal — and to help Andrea heal. “Andrea (had been) denied her voice and even her vital existence, caus(ing) further damage to the beautiful, hopeful human being she was, only seeking justice,” says Jenny.

Andrea tried for years to tell her story and was ignored by so many people. The 2004 NYT mag profile of her mother that pushed Andrea to finally file charges (the one where Munro spun an adoring and willfully incomplete story of her marriage to Fremlin) was just one example of many she had to endure where her pain was buried:

Andrea was devastated. “She was painting a new reality (where) my stepfather was the heroic figure of her life,” Andrea says. “And also made light of her parenting and how she had ‘no moral scruples.’”

“I felt, it’s convenient for my mother to have me out of everyone’s life,” she says. “It’s actually imperative to her that she rewrite this and she’s in a position where she can have a narrative that others will believe.”


So now, here we are. After the other surviving members of the affected family began to realize in 2016 that they'd been affected and needed healing as well, attended support sessions with a group that works with abuse survivors, finally started comparing notes about what they knew, and wrote their letters to Andrea, they came to the decision that honoring Andrea's pain meant going public with the buried narrative as well as the glowing one:

For the first time, the three siblings together confronted the abuse and the coverup and how it had shaped their family. “So ingrained was the silence around the story of Andrea’s abuse,” Andrew says, that they had never before compared notes; they didn’t realize the extent of what Andrea had gone through...

Sheila hadn’t seen Andrea for about 12 years at that point. After the visit to the Gatehouse, each of the siblings wrote a letter to Andrea. “Writing this letter was an opportunity to sort of make amends, I guess, trying to make amends for what I hadn’t done,” Sheila says...

As the world grieved the loss of a literary icon, her children were left with more complicated feelings about their mother...“I still feel she’s such a great writer — she deserved the Nobel,” says Sheila. “She devoted her life to it, and she manifested this amazing talent and imagination. And that’s all, really, she wanted to do in her life. Get those stories down and get them out.”

But all of them agree, this story too must come out.


In other words, the people best situated to answer the question you continue to raise about whether "shattering Munro's reputation" "is personally healing" have already provided the answer, which is a resounding "YES." And not just for Andrea, though you keep focusing solely on her. So when I weigh this sentence you wrote in your first comment above:

Munro's work remains unstained for me because I need it to be.

against the reality of what this family itself has decided is needed for it to heal, well, I don't think your needs come close to outweighing theirs.

Blame me if you want.
posted by mediareport at 8:26 AM on July 14 [14 favorites]


Flagged as fantastic, mediareport.
posted by adrienneleigh at 12:50 PM on July 14


mediareport, my needs can be only my needs, and Munro's family, even though I grew up sharing a back lane with their house in West Vancouver, can only be a set of people that I imagine. Feel empathy for, certainly; I hope I have been clear in my sorrow for what Andrea experienced. But I can only write for myself. Also, this:

You might benefit from re-reading the fourth link in the original post, which discusses at length the feelings of Andrea Skinner's siblings as Munro started to mentally decline

Benefit? As if I have not only read this article, but everything I could find online during the last few days, and wait for (what I assume will be a damning) article in the New Yorker? I do not need schooling, or to be so patronised, or to be told that I will benefit, thank you. (In that article, you will also find this sentence, referring to 2016, after Munro was diagnosed with Alzheimers: Even Alice, during periods of lucidity, was worried about Andrea, Jenny says, and wanted to do something. It's not much, but it is something similar to regret.)

I am only one of many thousands of readers in English who have found solace and what I can only describe as an expansion of mind through Munro's observational powers and the power of her narratives. I am glad the family can heal, though that word is thrown around a lot without much definition of what it actually means given that the perpetrators are now dead: does healing mean that Andrea no longer feels emotional pain? That her pain is validated, and family apologies made? And after that, to go on living carrying less of a burden? I don't blame you, or anyone, but perhaps (and I don't know how old you are) I have a closer tie, or am able to recognise, those unspoken silent social contracts as a matter of personal experience. Andrea is a bit younger than me; Munro's eldest, Sheila, a bit older. I remember well gaps in information, mysterious disappearances of high school of girls, and things that just weren't talked about. Not that any of this story is less awful, just that I recognise the mechanism. It was common.

Anyway, I've been thinking out loud now at length and I will leave it here. I wish Munro's work wasn't going to be forever marked, now, by her failure as a mother, and seen forever in that light. I believe I understand why Elena Ferrante has fought to keep her anonymity. We all make our choices, and Alice Munro would be the first to say that they are often selfish, self-serving, and that we can be capable of sacrificing others given the right set of circumstances. My Munro books aren't going anywhere, but I fear the shockwave is still growing. I don't know where it ends; I hope in accomplishing good, but I fear it will fuel something like the opposite.
posted by jokeefe at 2:45 PM on July 14


As if I have not only read this article

I said "re-read", as it seemed to me that you'd forgotten the part where the family made it very clear that their healing involved going public.

In that article, you will also find this sentence

Which I quoted, in the comment you replied to.

I am glad the family can heal, though that word is thrown around a lot without much definition of what it actually means

Do you really believe the family has not given any thought to what healing for themselves "actually means"? I get that you yourself are uncertain of what healing entails in this situation, but what I don't get is your apparent disbelief that survivors are able to sort that out for themselves.
posted by mediareport at 4:39 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


I hope in accomplishing good, but I fear it will fuel something like the opposite.
In what sense, exactly? Like, what bad things are you predicting? Are you worried about public book burnings? About the reputation of other authors you love being sullied by them being (deeply) flawed human beings?

Your comments here have been... not great, as far as responses to abuse go. Sorry you're going through this, but maybe processing it through constant questioning of Andrea's need to heal could be better done elsewhere?
posted by sagc at 4:53 AM on July 15 [9 favorites]


Apparently, there’s been quite a lot of discussion about Munro in Indian literary circles recently, centering on a column by Musul Kesavan [Twitter]. Writer and critic Deepanjana Pal replied on her substack in an esssy called Of Jill Ciment's Consent, Neil Gaiman and Alice Munro [archive link]. Excerpt:
“Readers who are parents might be forgiven for thinking that a writer who blamed her abused daughter for her husband’s paedophilia was a sociopath whose condition might have a bearing on her books,” Kesavan wrote in his column, after proudly announcing he hasn’t read Munro and doesn’t plan to now that he’s been enlightened by Skinner’s essay. (Curiously, Kesavan didn’t feel the need to make any such pronouncements about Gaiman or discuss any of the allegations against him.) Presumably, Kesavan intended to honour Skinner by rejecting her mother’s stories, but the declaration still feels like a knee-jerk reaction. It doesn’t feel like he had to “wrestle with the reality” the way Skinner hoped readers would. I’ve no idea if Munro was a sociopath — it seems a rather easy way of rejecting her in a way that effectively absolves her. Maybe even sympathises with her obliquely: “Poor dear of a sociopath, she didn’t know right from wrong” — but no one who has actually read Munro would consider her writing sociopathic. Munro as a writer was keenly aware of right and wrong. This is why her characters could use slyness like a superpower. This is why her failure as a woman and a mother is as comprehensively disappointing as it is.
posted by Kattullus at 12:32 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


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