Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Alice Munro to retire?

Via the Elegant Variation comes very sad news: Alice Munro is expected to announce tonight, at a fundraiser in Toronto, that she has written her last book.

Munro is scheduled to give a reading at a benefit and book launch for Writing Life, a PEN Canada anthology of essays from 50 Canadian and international authors that is scheduled to hit stores July 1. In her contribution to the volume, Munro cites a tremor in her writing nerves in the face of constant interruptions and advancing age. (She will be 75 next month.) She says she can quit writing "in the interests of a manageable life" and with the knowledge that it's rare for outstanding work to be produced in a author's later years, "so one or two books fewer won't really be anybody's loss."
Many will beg to differ.

She is a master of the short story, and her work, in its sober, exact beauty, recalls that of another writer whose pen fell silent too soon, John McGahern. Her next book will be her 13th, another book of short fiction, which is due for a November release. Here's what the MacDowell Colony had to say this year as it awarded her its highest honour, the MacDowell medal:
"Reviewers have often compared Munro to Chekhov, and this is no overstatement. When you close a book of hers, you know a lot more about what it means to be human."

If the rumours are true, her voice will be much missed.

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