Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alice Munro

Congratulations to Alice Munro, the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature. The limited-edition chapbook shown here, which contains a single long story, was issued as a promotional item to coincide with her 1994 collection Open Secrets.

Here are the story's last four paragraphs, which, in keeping with the tale's daring oddness, describe more or less the chronological beginning of events.

The hotel moved her to one of the rooms for permanent guests, on the third floor. She could see the snow-covered hills over the rooftops. The town of Carstairs was in a river valley. It had three or four thousand people and a long main street that ran downhill, over the river, and up again. There was a piano and organ factory.

The houses were built for lifetimes and the yards were wide and the streets were lined with mature elm and maple trees. She had never been here when the leaves were on the trees. It must make a great difference. So much that lay open now would be concealed.

She was glad of a fresh start, her spirits were hushed and grateful. She had made fresh starts before and things had not turned out as she had hoped, but she believed in the swift decision, the unforeseen intervention, the uniqueness of her fate.

The town was full of the smell of horses. As evening came on, big blinkered horses with feathered hooves pulled the sleighs across the bridge, past the hotel, beyond the streetlights, down the dark side roads. Somewhere out in the country they would lose the sound of each other’s bells.

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