It's like an addiction to read Alice Munro. I want to get to know all the people, she writes about. I am in love with all the people, who crowd the beautiful stories in this collection Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Liveship, Marriage. They always seem to lead a fairly normal, unspectacular life somewhere in a small Canadian town or the countryside, until you sense, that underneath their surface, there is turmoil and weirdness and a truth, covered up in their everyday lifes, but nonetheless shaping them entirely with their underground current. The surface always, in the end, plays the minor part in all their lifes, even though it takes up most of their lifetime.
There is a woman, a boring woman somewhat, who never had any adventures, who served others, who is taken for granted by others or even ridiculed, who ships furnitures across the country to a man, she only met once, with whom she exchanged a few letters. She is not pretty or too smart, only smart enough to dive for her one great chance in life. The end of this particular story left me breath- and speechless. There was so much in it, so much surprise and beauty. I was lying in my hammock and exclaimed into the cherry tree "My god, this was perfect! A perfect story!" In another, a man has to bring his wife into a home for old people, because she shows more and more signs of dementia. He is not allowed to visit her for a month, for her to get adjusted to the new environment, but when he finally returns, she does not recognize him anymore and is more or less in love with another patient there, who is also married and only there for a brief time to give his wife a break. When she comes to take him back, everything changes and the husband does, what he needs to do to save his wife.
A very young woman visits her halfsister in Toronto to find a job maybe, but also to reunite with her sister. This halfsister is now married to their mutual music teacher from years back, she actually eloped with him and never contacted her family again until she was in desperate need of some money. The musicteacher is not too likable a character, but rather harsh and cold and with a tendency to be violent. The young woman sees herself escaping with her half sister, living a new life together and finds herself abandoned again.
Alice Munro tells us all these seemingly simple stories in such depth, she never leaves out an undercurrent and as a reader, one gets to know the characters, like they were family. I am addicted to read Alice Munro and let her explain the world to me. I want to meet everybody, she ever wrote about. No, actually, I want her to write about me and in reading my story, composed by her, I would understand, who I am, who I was, who I always was meant to be, I could see the undercurrent running my life. I would understand, that nothing in my life has the importance, that I ever thought it had, and I would understand, how important things were on the other hand, that I never noticed, while they were shaping my life. I would fall in love with myself, like I fall in love with each and everyone of her characters, because there is clarity and understanding. She makes one fall in love with life and at the same time see its utter fleetingness, just not much really, to cling to in the end and yet: does it matter? No. The moments matter and the undercurrents.
I loved every story in this book, which made me call my bookstore, my favourite bookstore, to find out, if they had any others by her in stock. I want to read The Love of a Good Woman next.Yes, I loved every story, but if you would force me to choose one, I think it would be the one, giving the book its title: "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage". The perfect story.
Every story was a revelation, about life and myself, so in the end, she writes about me, all the time, like she writes about everybody else and everything. That is, how universal she writes and how deep she dives.
© Susanne Becker