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The Nobel Prize in Literature 2013 was awarded to Alice Munro „master of the contemporary short story.“ She became the first Canadian and only 13th woman to take the award since its lunch in 1901. Her work has been described as having revolutionized the architecture of short stories, especially in its tendency to more forward and backward in time.

            Munro was born Alice Ann Laidlaw in Wingham, Ontario in July 10th 1931. Her father was a fox and mink farmer and her mother a schoolteacher. Munro began writing as a teenager, publishing her first story The Dimensions of a Shadow in 1950 while studying English and journalism at the University of Western Ontario in London under a two-year scholarship in 1951. She left the university to marry fellow student James Munro. She became a full-time housewife and mother of their three children. They moved from province of Ontario to  province of British Columbia – Dundarave, West Vancouver and in 1963 to Victoria, where they opened Munro's Books a popular bookstore which still operates. Alice and James Munro divorced in 1972 and Alice returned to Ontario to become writer in residence at the University of Western Ontario. In 1976, she married Gerald Fremlin whom she met at the university. The couple moved to a farm outside Clinton, Ontario and later to a house in Clinton, where her husban died in April 2013.

         In 1979 to 1982 Munro toured Australia, China and Scandinavia. In 1980 held the position of writer in residence at bouth - the University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland. Through the 1980s and 1990s, she published a short-story collection about every four years. Many of Munro's stories are set in Huron County. She has called  Wingham, Ontario the most interesting place in the word and her stories portraits woman living in small town. Her strong regional focus is one of the features of her fiction. She has been called also Canada's Chekhov. Similiar to the work of the Russian short story master.

         Alice Munro's highly acclaimed first collection of stories, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968) won the Governor General's Award, Canada's highest literary prize.. That succes was followed by Lives of Girls and Women (1971). Munro's collection of stories Who Do You Think You Are? was published also as The Beggar Maid in U.S.A. This book earened Munro a second Governor General's Award in 1978, also in 1986 for The Progress of Love.

         The Bear Came Over the Mountain – about erderly couple grappling with infidelity- both the husband's in the past and the wife, who is losing her memory and has fallen for another man at her nursing home. It was adapted in 2006 for film Away From Her. It debuted at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival and it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.  Munro's story Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage was also adapted for film. She is fantastic portrayel of  human beings. Her last series of stories is the 2012 Dear Life. 14 collection of short stories including The View from Castele Rock, collections of historical and autobiographical stories

(2006), was the favourite of the permanent secretery of Swedish Academy.

         Alice Munro's works have appeard frequently in publications such as The New Yorkers, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review. Her collections have been translated into thirteen  languages. Some critics have asked whether Munro actualy writes short stories or novels. Alex Keegan, writing in Eclectica, gave a simple unswer: „Who cares? In most Munro stories there is as much as in many novels.“

          Munro's excellence has been recognized with numerous prestigious awards including the Man Booker Prize (1980) for The Beggar Maid, Too Much Happines (2009). The Giller Prize – for  the Love of a Good Women (1998), Runaway (2004), PEN/Malamund Award for Excellence in Short Fiction (1997), National Book Critics Circle Award (1998, U.S.) for The Love of a Good Woman,  Commonwealth Writers Prize and many others.

           Alice Munro in 2010 was conferred a medal Knight of the Orde of Arts and Letters, order of France, for her literary contribution.

Maria Chrappa

An interview with Alice Munro

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 and his mother and the mother's nurse whom the husband doesn't yet know he's in love with. How did that happen? I don't know.

What are your writing habits--Do you use a computer? Do you write every day? In the morning or at night? How long does it take to complete a story?
I've been using a computer for a year--I'm a late convert to every technological offering and still don't own a microwave oven--but I do one or two drafts long hand before I go to the keyboard. A story might be done in two months, beginning to end, and ready to go, but that's rare. More likely six to eight months, many changes, some false directions, much fiddling and some despair. I write everyday unless it's impossible and start writing as soon as I get up and have made coffee and try to get two to three hours in before real life hauls me away.

What advice would you give to young writers?
It's not possible to advise a young writer because every young writer is so different. You might say, "Read," but a writer can read too much and be paralyzed. Or, "Don't read, don't think, just write," and the result could be a mountain of drivel. If you're going to be a writer you'll probably take a lot of wrong turns and then one day just end up writing something you have to write, then getting it better and better just because you want it to be better, and even when you get old and think "There must be something else people do" you won't quite be able to quit.

What writers have most influenced you and who do you like to read?
When I was young it was Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connor, James Agee. Then Updike, Cheever, Joyce Carol Oates, Peter Taylor, and especially and forever, William Maxwell. Also William Trevor, Edna O'Brien, Richard Ford. These I would say are influences. There are dozens of others I just like to read. My latest discovery is a Dutch writer, Cees Nooteboom. I hate doing lists like this because I'll be banging my head soon that I left somebody wonderful out. That's why I speak only of those who have influenced, not of all who have delighted me.

Cynthia Ozick has called you "our Chekhov." How does that comparison make you feel?
I have recently re-read much of Chekhov and it's a humbling experience. I don't even claim Chekhov as an influence because he influenced all of us. Like Shakespeare his writing shed the most perfect light--there's no striving in it, no personality. Well, of course, wouldn't I love to do that!

Many critics have praised you for being able to create an entire life in a page. How do you achieve such a feat?
I always have to know my characters in a lot of depth--what clothes they'd choose, what they were like at school, etc . . . And I know what happened before and what will happen after the part of their lives I'm dealing with. I can't see them just now, packed into the stress of the moment. So I suppose I want to give as much of them as I can.

Most of your stories have not strayed very far from home--your native Ontario. What makes where you live such fertile ground for so many different stories?
I don't think of myself as being in any way an interpreter of rural Ontario, where I live. I think there's perhaps an advantage living here of knowing more different sorts of people than you would know in a larger community (where you'd be shut up, mostly, in your own income or educational or professional "class"). The physical setting is perhaps "real" to me, in a way no other is. I love the landscape, not as "scenery" but as something intimately known. Also the weather, the villages and towns, not in their picturesque aspects but in all phases. Human experience though doesn't seem to me to differ, except in fairly superficial ways, no matter what the customs and surroundings.

Memory plays a key role in many of your stories. What is it about the power of memory and how it shapes our lives that most intrigues you?
Memory is the way we keep telling ourselves our stories--and telling other people a somewhat different version of our stories. We can hardly manage our lives without a powerful ongoing narrative. And underneath all these edited, inspired, self-serving or entertaining stories there is, we suppose, some big bulging awful mysterious entity called THE TRUTH, which our fictional stories are supposed to be poking at and grabbing pieces of. What could be more interesting as a life's occupation? One of the ways we do this, I think, is by trying to look at what memory does (different tricks at different stages of our lives) and at the way people's different memories deal with the same (shared) experience. The more disconcerting the differences are, the more the writer in me feels an odd exhilaration.

Do you have a particular story or stories that are especially close to your heart?
I always like the story I'm trying to write at the moment the best, and the stories I've just published next best, In my new book, I'm very attached to "Save the Reaper" and "My Mother's Dream." Among the older ones, I like "Progress of Love" and "Labor Day Dinner" and "Carried Away" a lot. And actually many others.

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