Alice Munro (1982): “How I write short stories”

[Updates: Alice Munro’s article (see below) is also referenced in an Oct. 11, 2013 Brain Pickings post.

In a dec. 25, 2013 CBC article, Alice Munro is quoted as saying: “A good short story should say everything it has to say before the final paragraph.” End of updates]


I was delighted to learn this morning that Alice Munro is the first Canadian to win the Nobel literature prize.

Among the texts that Alice Munro has written, one of my favourites is her 1982 article, “How I write short stories.”

Like visiting rooms in a house

In the article she talks about how she likes to go about reading short stories by other authors. Sometimes she starts in the middle. Or she might read from back to front. Occasionally she reads front to back.

For her, it’s like visiting the rooms in a house, spending some time in each room, having a look at the outside through different windows in the house.

Nobel prize

A Canadian Press article in the Oct. 10, 2013 Globe and Mail is entitled: “Canadian Alice Munro ‘amazed, very grateful’ for Nobel Prize win.”

A Canadian Press article in the Oct. 10, 2013 Globe and Mail highlights the international press response.

An Oct. 10, 2013 article in the Guardian is entitled: “Alice Munro wins Nobel prize in literature.”

An Oct. 10, 2013 New York Times article is entitled: “Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature.”

An Oct. 10, 2013 New Yorker article is entitled: “Alice Munro wins the Nobel.”

A Sept. 19, 2011 New Yorker story by Alice Munro begins: “I lived when I was young at the end of a long road, or a road that seemed long to me. Behind me, as I walked home from primary school, and then from high school, was the real town with its activity and its sidewalks and its streetlights for after dark.”

Amundsen is an Alice Munro short story in the Aug. 27, 2012 New Yorker about a young schoolteacher who takes a job in a town suffering from a tuberculosis outbreak.

Additional New Yorker articles by Alice Munro can be found here.

Highlights of Alice Munro interviews from CBC Digital Archives can be accessed here.

Her work brings to mind the distinction between literary fiction and popular fiction, a topic discussed in an Oct. 3, 2013 New York Times article and an Oct. 8, 2013 Guardian article.


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