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This June 25, 2009 file photo shows Canadian author Alice Munro at a press conference at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Munro was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday Oct. 10, 2013. (PETER MORRISON/AP)
This June 25, 2009 file photo shows Canadian author Alice Munro at a press conference at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Munro was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday Oct. 10, 2013. (PETER MORRISON/AP)

‘She transforms ordinary into extraordinary’: Readers share what they love about Alice Munro Add to ...

I fondly remember reading Open Secrets during my last summer in Nashville, Tennessee, where I was completing a graduate degree in literature. I sat on a cafe porch with coffee, savouring these stories. Although the appeal of her fiction is universal, there was an unmistakable feeling of being at home away from home. Congratulations to Ms. Munro. We are all so pleased and so proud. Gail Fenderson, Ottawa
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She transforms ordinary into extraordinary. Every detail matters, the quiet arc of a life: she reminds readers that they are creating their own narrative. I discovered her stories in 1991 and I began steadily reading and rereading them in January 2011, teasing out the intricacies, unravelling the delicate crafting: ever-rewarding, these stories offer more to readers on each re-reading. Definitely works worth celebrating. Marcie McCauley, Toronto
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From Bogota, Colombia, I celebrate that the Nobel Prize went to Alice Munro. She is a storyteller. Words coming out of her are fluid and gracefully roll out, pulling us to go, like the bear, over the mountain, time and again. Alvin Gongora, Bogota, Columbia
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I read Alice Munro's short story Thanks for the Ride as a college student way back in 1980; I had just emigrated from Mexico, and that story had a great impact on me. Its vivid, intense style captivated me, and I instantly became Munro's fan. I am very happy for her and for Canadian culture today. Maximo Kuri, Vancouver
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No matter where you are, Munro instantly transports you to Canada. The distance between the characters, the silence between the characters, that quietness in her scenery, those hollow moments so pregnant with meaning and mystery. What she leaves unsaid among her characters seems so characteristic of Canada. Reading Munro, you can really get a sense of what goes on behind the closed doors of Canadian homes. Richard Isaacs, Brooklyn, NY
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As a writer, I learned from Alice Munro that the supreme art of fiction is specific, concrete detail. When she places you in a room she lets you see, through economic brush strokes, what's stitched into the cushion on the couch or what's hanging on the wall – not detail for detail's sake, but always detail laden with meaning. In Munro's canvasses we see the significance beyond the surface textures of life. As she says in Lives of Girls and Women, "People's lives … were dull, simple, amazing and unfathomable – deep caves paved with kitchen linoleum." Hugh Cook, Hamilton
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I love her stories. Having grown up on a backwoods farm, one of 8 kids, with no running water or bathroom, I identified with her stories. The hardships faced in those days would not be understood by this generation. But the strength of women, facing all they had to face, is remarkable and it makes me proud that I understand. Linda Jennings, Cornwall, Ont
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I met Alice Munro when I was a student at Western and she was the Writer in Residence. She was always happy to chat with students. At a reception, I asked why she was carrying a harlequin romance. She said she did it to get reactions from stuck up literary types plus she really did like reading them and then she started laughing. I have liked her ever since. Her novels are must have on my night table. Suzanne McDonald Aziz, London, Ont
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Once I came cross this great line she wrote in one of her short stories (for The New Yorker), The Jack Randa Hotel: " ... wives have diamond rings and headaches ... The truly successful ones do." Ever since I started paying a lot more attention to reading, though it was hard since it was the fourth year I had been living in North America. Dongxia Zhu, New York
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I work at an immigrant-serving agency in Calgary. Part of the reason I love Alice Munro is that I know I could give any of her stories to a newcomer and he or she would get a very clear idea of life in Canada in any given time period. Her astounding body of work is so quintessentially Canadian without making a caricature of itself. Carly Pender, Calgary
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Alice Munro gives voice to everyday people and lets them find a place in our cultural landscape. In our too often celebrity drenched culture she gives voice to the people who are too often forgotten: adolescents, women and the elderly. Her writing is concise and she allows the reader to delve in and connect with her characters in an intimate manner. In the end she leaves the reader with a prose that is human and satisfies the need for all of us to relate to one another. Paul Dewar, Ottawa
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Back in the mid '90's I read The Lives of Girls and Women for a book report in Sociology of the Family in university. This book of linked short stories was an eye-opener in regards to women making major choices in their lives that were outside the social norm. The time period was perhaps the 1940's in small town western Ontario and the story carved out feminist values that were counterproductive to accepted family life. Sexuality, religion, higher education and individual will were explored in a subtle and profound way. Dave Dickson, Toronto
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I've been reading her for almost 50 years, since I was a teenager. (I grew up in Alice Munro country myself.) Amazing that they gave the Nobel Prize to a writer who writes so locally and personally. Not for the giant themes of literature, but short gems about small, everyday people from small towns – usually women, with dreams of finding their way out of the limited horizons of the farm or the small town. In her stories, there is the drive to leave and always the pull back, too ... genius. Yvonne Cunnington, Ancaster, Ont.
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Alice Munro crafts her stories from a distance. Her writing is so disciplined. No emotion is imposed. Precise words forged with meticulous narrative structures so fully engage us, we make the stories our own. The Bear Came Over the Mountain doesn't tell us how complicated love is. It shows us. We deplore Grant for his manipulation of Marian, but marvel at the purity of his devotion. The many layers of Munro's prose also means you can happily re-read her – this weekend maybe. Amélie Crosson, Ottawa
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The Moons of Jupiter was the first Alice Munro book I read. I was in my early 20s and I remember enjoying all the stories in the book but it was the last one, The Moons of Jupiter that I remember most. I was young and had just started university so the thought of someday being by my dad’s bedside in a hospital and that he would one day die just wasn’t on my radar at that time. But it became so after I read this short story. I don’t mean this in a morose way, more that I became aware of a certain vulnerability. Munro’s mature and complex writing showed me what the future might hold for me, in terms of growing up, raising a family, time passing and the inevitable death of a parent. Jane Bateman, Canmore, Alta.
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Like Hemingway – and this is the only thing they share – she writes simple, direct English prose. Her stories are mainly about the pain, and occasional joy, of growing up in small-town southwestern Ontario. Other living Nobels – especially South Africans J. M. Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer – deal with the grand themes of racism and conflict, but Munro's unique focus is on what might be called ordinary life. Raymond Heard, Toronto
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What I love about Alice Munro's stories is that she knows that any person's interior life, no matter how secret, has an outward expression. She also well aware of the consequences when the unintended expression of one's interior life interacts with the comformity required by a community. The setting in an Alice Munro story is often a small town in Southwestern Ontario. But it doesn't have to be. The clash of a community's standards and individual expression is universal. How to "fit in" is something we all deal with. Christopher Stanek, Toronto
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I love that her stories take the reader deep into unknown waters. Often while reading her work I have found myself in her characters . I love how she treads between the normal everyday and the completely unexpected. There is an element of surprise that thrills the reader and you know the ending may be hard to take but that makes you read on at a great speed! Her work has also shown me that rural Ontario can be interesting and one can find complexities in life's simplicities. Julie Holdsworth, Newmarket, Ont.

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