Alice Munro is without doubt a very good author – after all she recently won the Nobel Prize for literature. The thing is – and I’m embarrassed to admit this – I just don’t get her. In an earlier blog posting, I applauded her winning the Nobel Prize and was as proud as any Canadian could be. It motivated me to dig out my hard-cover copy of her latest book, “Dear Life” and give it another shot. About three-quarters of the way through the book I gave up – again. While her stories of the people and small town places in southwestern Ontario ring familiar, I find them tedious and depressing, which, as someone who grew up in a small Ontario town is understandable. But her story lines and writing style fail to make me want to turn the page and keep reading. If someone could explain why she was Nobel-worthy I’d be very grateful.
I’m just a simple lover of books, not a student of literature, an academic, a critic or probably even all that smart. So there’s obviously something I’m missing. There are so many other Canadian authors I like better than Alice Munro which makes the criteria for selection from the world-wide pool of Nobel prize contenders even more incomprehensible.
The answer I think lies in the subjectivity of the reader. I’ve also found that I rarely liked Oprah’s book club picks either. Some were wonderful reads but for the most part they were bleak and depressing. Similarly, the Giller prize winners consistently leave me cold. I no longer go out and buy the latest Giller books because I’m always disappointed.
My most reliable source of recommended great reading material is my Boomer Broad friends. Our tastes are similar for the most part and when they’re not, I simply stick with the ones I like. My tastes run to historical fiction, non-fiction, humour, biographies and auto-biographies. You can check out what I’ve read lately in the Books section of my blog. No more Alice Munroe. No apologies.