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Holidays Done Right

I.) My favorite gift that I received this year for Christmas was certainly Moons of Jupiter, which is a book of short stories by Alice Munro. I felt this way because first of all, the gift came from my dad — not my English professor, poet of a sister. I guess that means he has been listening to me at the other end of the telephone line while I ramble on about books and words and horses. But the book was also my favorite because, I mean, it’s Alice Munro, and I think she’s kind of really incredible.

II.) The reason I think Munro is so brilliant in her writing, is the voice. When I read her work I find myself questioning if what I’m reading is a story, or an actual account of an event. It’s extremely believable and extremely vivid. It’s in the details — the look of the postcard in “Postcard.” It’s in the imagery — the eyes of the rodent in “Images.” It’s in the concrete locations and complex character development. Munro is an expert at capturing life and putting it into words.

Munro has this awesome ability to start her stories out slowly, with patience and the kind of introduction that makes her work so vibrant and beautiful. She takes the subject matter and slows it down into the tiny fragments that make it all so believable. And once she’s captured you with the motion picture that the story has become, she delivers the climax of the story, smoothly and without becoming hurried. When Munro brings the story to a close, it’s not that she puts a bow on it and ties it all together. Rather, she puts a cherry on top of the whipped cream that her story had already created. In my Fantastic in Fiction class last spring we discussed the idea of stepping back, slowing down, and looking around when the narrator needs to think. Steven Millhauser is another writer who does a wonderful job slowing things down in a way that adds the perfect amount of sweetness to an already wonderful story.

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