Gawker Heroes: Alice Munro

"A man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days," Goethe supposedly said. Alice Munro is a woman. She endured a lot of ordinary days. She mastered the short story and won a Nobel for literature this year. She should be a fucking hero to every woman, Canadian, and would-be writer.

A chronology:

Start writing early.

Go to school for writing.

Work as a waitress.

Also, a tobacco-picker.

Library clerk.

Leave school to get married, and also because your scholarship ran out.

Open bookstore with husband.

Have four daughters.

Housework and baby-raising.

Manage to write your first book at 36.

Divorce and remarry in your late forties.

Keep writing.

Win the Man Booker prize at 78.

Win the Nobel at 82.

Also, the writing, the writing:

She was learning, quite late, what many people around her appeared to have known since childhood that life can be perfectly satisfying without major achievements.

"I never think about being a feminist writer, but of course I wouldn't know," she told the New Yorker. "I don't see things all put together in that way. I do think it's plenty hard to be a man. Think if I'd had to support a family, in those early years of failure?"

"I think any life can be interesting — I think any surroundings can be interesting," she told the Nobel interviewer. "I don't think I would've been nearly so bold as a writer if I had lived in a [bigger] town and if I had gone to school with other people who were...what you might call a "higher cultural level."

What the hell have you done with your life? No matter: You still have life. You still have a chance. That is what Munro tells us, in her work and in her person. If that's not a hero to you, take your heroes and leave them far away from me.

[Photo credit: AP]


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