Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Sunday 8 April 2012

"The Moons of Jupiter" by Alice Munro (Vintage, 2004)

It was first published in 1986. It has an Introduction where she says -

  • "I can't see that travel ever has much effect on me, as a writer", p.xv
  • "The stories that are personal are carried inexorably away from the real. And the observed stories lose their anecdotal edges, being invaded by familiar shapes and voices. // So one hopes, anyway", p.xiv

On the back cover, Anne Tyler writes "Only a few writers continue to create these full-bodied miniature universes of the old school".

In "Connection" the first part sets up the conflict between the narrator and her husband. Her husband starts pointing out the grammatical errors of her aunt, who'd just left. Then there's a moment when something erupts - "He was still talking as I threw the Pyrex plate at his head" (p.17) -

In "Dulse" there's repetition of a type that I've not seen before in Munro - "She had noticed something about herself, on this trip to the Maritimes ... she had stopped being one sort of woman and had become another, and she had noticed it on the trip"

In "Accident" the narrator briefly breaks in to tell us "It is in imagining her affair to be a secret that Frances shows, most clearly, a lack of small-town instincts".

In "Labour Day Dinner" there's a big cast. We're even told ages - Angela 17, Eva 12, Ruth 25, David 21. There's some parallel subtext, which I don't recall seeing a lot elsewhere in Munro

"A gibbous moon."
It was Roberta who told George what a gibbous moon was, and so his saying this is always an offering. It is an offering now, as they drive between the black cornfields.
"So there is." Roberta doesn't reject the offering with silence, but she doesn't welcome it, either. She is polite. She yawns, and there is a private sound to her yawn. This isn't tactics, though she knows indifference is attractive. The real thing is. He can spot an imitation; he can always withstand tactics

There's often a jump before the final section of stories. In "The Turkey Season" it's marked by "I have a picture of the Turkey Barn crew taken on Christmas Eve". Near the end of "Accident" we get "nearly thirty years later" and "This will go on for a while".

"The Moons of Jupiter" and "The Bardon Bus" remain my favorites, with "The Accident" coming third.

No comments:

Post a Comment