Jonathan Franzen has a worshipful, humble, and emotionally genuine piece on Alice Munro in the NYTimes. It's a writer's perspective.
I'm a reader.
Alice Munro as an author is someone I trust without reservation - there's never been one jarring wrong move in any of the books and stories of hers I've read, never anything that even hinted of a rejecting judgement, of a moral line drawn with her on one side and someone else on the other. And she has consistently, with an economy of poetic grace and narrative craft, revealed the world as it is beneath the veil and film of subjectivity, always with an unwavering and unfaltering humanity that's feminine, but in the way maternal presence is feminine; there's a completeness, a fullness that's more than individual.
That's the magic part, that's the mystery and truth of human experience part. That the woman's view is really ours, all of us - mothered by it, sheltered within it, fed by it. Not a woman's view as in an individual woman's life, but woman as center of the human experience - there at the beginning in a way the male view however powerful and knowing can't be.
It's a calm presence in the midst of everything - even the most chaotic storms of disintegration and emotional violence. It's a reach beyond anything immediate, and it's inclusive, an understanding beyond anything like sympathy, an acceptance of whatever's really there as it is.
Most renditions of God, of Godlike perspective, miniaturize the human in order to fit it into the all-seeing eye, but that's false - it's a child's version of male seeing and it's incomplete because of that; the real version illuminates the details without diminishing the whole, accepts with a kind of holding that isn't withdrawal, but patience.
Munro's eye is the missing half of the patriarchal deity, written from within the union, not from outside of it.
The apotheoisis and epiphany are there the way they are in Pissarro's landscapes, in Chekhov's stories that hers are rightly placed with - it's the informed light that comes to us from somewhere we think of as outside the system, beyond our world, although it isn't. It only seems like that because our vision is so partial and our understanding so incomplete.
Which all sounds so ponderous that I'm embarrassed to reread it, but it's a genuine effort to explain how I feel about Munro's work. Her story "Miles City, Montana", in the New Yorker some time in the mid-80's, was a religious experience for me - that's where the tone of this writing is coming from.
It has a parallel in the way the regard for the simplest necessities of living resolves in people who have finally seen how really fragile they are - sacred, humble things profaned by the acts of our living, but still sacred, viewed with an honesty that's rigorous and disciplined, and inspired.
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