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Whistler Reads: TOO MUCH HAPPINESS

abstract:When Alice Munro publishes a new book of short stories, it becomes an international literary event. Too Much Happiness (available Aug 25th 2009, McClelland & Stewart/Canada; Knopf/US; and Chatto & Windus/UK) is her 14th book. Considered Canadaís most important living writer and a master of the short story genre, Munro's writing routinely receives accolades from luminaries of the literary world and she's bestowed with prestigious national and international awards: the Giller Prize twice, the Governor General award thrice, and in 2009 she was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work. (What next, the Nobel?) She has had an international following since the 70s and is described as "Canada's Chekhov" for her style of writing. Wouldn't you agree, itís about time we all read Alice Munro? Read my review in the Pique and get your tickets ($15) here. Bring a friend and be entered into the draw for free books.

article:

August 15, 2009
— Order this book online via amazon.ca at $20.78 (hardcover) price guarenteed, or if you are in Whistler reserve a copy at Armchair Books. Retails $34.99 (and get the 10% discount to WR members.) You'll have one month to read. Choose any one story, your pick of the bunch or, heck why not all ten in the collection? Like a music CD or the ordering of songs on a vinyl record, it's interesting to consider what links these particular stories and why Munro published them together. The subjects deal with Munro's well-honed territory of ordinary women dealing with the vicissitudes of life in Huron county, but it also has edgy pieces involving child murders, strange sex, and terrifying home invasions. Join us for wine, conversation and a discussion of this Canadian literary diva at the lovely Whistler home of (venue and directions provided with PayPal ticket purchase) this September 24th, Thursday at 7:30-9:30 pm.
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    About The Author

    If you've been to Victoria, BC you'll undoubtedly have come across Munro Books a beautiful book store converted from a bank building in the heart of the city. It's not a coincidence. It's owned by Alice Munro's first husband James Munro. The two met as students at Western University in Ontrario, where Alice was majoring in English. Born into a family of fox and poultry farmers, Alice grew up in rural Ontario, first working as a waitress, a tobacco picker and a library clerk. She used to read her stories over the local radio station. Her mother, Anne Clark was a school teacher and her father was Robert Eric Laidlaw.

    Alice first published a story titled, "The Dimensions of a Shadow" while a student in 1950. She and James married, moved to BC had three daughters together, named Shelagh, Jenny and Andrea. (Another daughter was lost just after childbirth.) The couple divorced in 1972 and Alice moved back to Ontario where she joined the staff at her old alma mater, Western as an English professor. She remarried to Gerald Fremlin, a geographer and the two moved to a farm in Clinton, Ontario. She currently lives a quiet life in the town of Clinton, respected by the locals who populate the small community and tolerate the literary tourists who come by to see the places in the stories she has written about, much like they do for Faulkner (Lafayette County) or Steinbeck (Monterey Bay area), both whose writing shares a strong sense of geography.

    During her time in Clinton, a baker's dozen books ensued along with all the aforementioned awards and prizes, and Alice declared she was going to retire from writing. Happily, Too Much Happiness refutes that notion. Today Alice Munro's stories frequently appear in publications such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Paris Review.

    Book Discussion Points & Further Research Links

    1. Why has Alice Munro's fiction endured?
    2. Which of the stories in "Too Much Happiness" is your favorite?
    3. Are there similarities in character, setting, or plot elements that distinguish the series?
    4. Why do you think she prefers the short story genre?
    5. Jane Urquhart writes, "One of the great mysteries of Alice Munro's genius as a short story writer is that she manages to cause her readers to feel closer to the characters than they do to certain members of their own family." Did you experience this?
    6. Not the only fish in the sea, let's compare Munro's writing to the short stories of Margaret Atwood, Roberson Davies, Guy Vanderhaeghe or Annie Proulx (the last writer though American, did get her Masters degree from Concordia University in Montreal, Que.)

      Reviews

      The Telegraph, UK

      The Guardian, UK

      The Walrus Magazine

      Other Works by Alice Munro

      Alice Munro's Best: Selected Stories

      Runaway

       

       

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