Posted in Book Stuff

Alice Munro’s Brilliance

I am reading Alice Munro because she is brilliant. In the mid 1990s, I studied her stories for “weather,” ie the external details that make a story come alive. In the margins of a book of her short stories, I wrote “clothing,” “smell”, “rain.” Then I added weather to the next draft of The River Midnight and it suddenly popped into the third dimension.

In my new novel the main character meets many minor characters who come and go, so there isn’t the time to develop them in the way of characters who remain throughout a novel. Hence I am studying Alice Munro to see how she quickly and deftly sketches a character. It’s a hard study because the stories are too absorbing; I forget to notice technique. In Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, what I am noticing are the sudden twists: surprising, shocking, brilliant.

Maybe I will learn something different than what I was looking for.



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

4 thoughts on “Alice Munro’s Brilliance

  1. I discovered Alice Munro in university. I highly recommend “Lives of Girls and Women” and ‘Something I’ve Been Meaning to tell You”. They are both wonderful books. When will your next book be released,Lilian?

    1. I’ve just downloaded Dear Life from the library and looking forward to it. As for a new book of mine–literary fiction takes years. No date yet! But I’m working on it.

  2. I also love Alice Munroe. I think she’s a writer who is so gifted that technique blends seamlessly into storytelling. You remind me I’d love to pick up another book by her soon.

  3. Litlove, I got her latest as an ebook from the library but I think this is another case where I’ll buy a book after reading it first digitally. This will be the 3rd time I’ve done that. The previous ones were The Sisters Brothers and the Finkler Question.

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