Alice Munro

Carolyn alerted me to an interview with Alice Munro in The New York Times four days ago, in which the famed author officially announced that she’s retiring from writing. Apparently this isn’t the first time she’s made this type of announcement, but this time it sounds a bit more serious, especially considering Munro is 81 years old.

Here’s a link to the article:

After I read the interview, I felt this … melancholy in my gut, would be the best way to describe it. Not just because one of the greatest Canadian writers ever might actually be hanging up her hat – and even if, like me, you’re not big into literature, you have to admit that Munro’s work is incredible. It was mainly to do with a particular line in the interview, where Munro says, “There is a nice feeling about being just like everyone else now. But it also means that the most important thing in my life is gone.” She corrects herself after that her late husband was the most important thing in her life, so that now he and her writing are gone.

That struck a chord with me. The idea that someday I might give up writing is scary enough, since I plan on doing it for a very long time. But I don’t think I would ever consider my writing to be gone. While I’m pretty sure Munro simply meant that the physical act of writing would be absent from her daily life, something about her phrasing makes it sound as though the entire concept of writing will leave her now that she’s retired. And I don’t think that’s possible.

Maybe it’s just that I don’t like the idea of finality in anything, but I don’t think Munro should be referring to her writing as being “gone.” Like the memories of her late husband, her writing will still persist and be a part of her. A writer’s products come from within, and so they should always be part of a writer’s mind, or soul, even if the writer stops producing. As I’ve told my students before, a writer’s brain never stops churning stories, and so I imagine Munro’s will be the same.

Or at least I would hope. The idea that Alice Munro will ever stop having flashes of writing insight is a terrifying one, indeed.

I’m not sure how cohesive this post will sound to anyone reading. I think I’m not sure how I feel about this article I just read, so I might end up posting about it again later. For now, I want to wish Alice Munro an enjoyable retirement, and that she keeps in mind that her writing will always be with her, and with the world.


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