How did you first come to encounter the work of Alice Munro?
I discovered Munro’s writing at a propitious moment in my own life and also, as it turned out, in hers. In 1973 I had just completed a B. A. at a university in my native Ohio, had decided to take a year off to explore graduate-school possibilities in Canada, and so had begun reading Canadian literature. At the suggestion of one of my mentors, I took out a subscription to the Tamarack Review, a quarterly focused on contemporary Canadian writing. The first story in the first issue I received—November 1973—was Munro’s “Material.” I read it, was struck hard by it, and became enraptured by her work right then—it is still among my favourite Munro stories. The next August I enrolled in an M.A. program at the University of Waterloo (Ontario) and, after coursework, presented a thesis on Munro’s narrative techniques in her uncollected stories and first book, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968). It was among the earliest critical studies of her stories, and I have been reading and analysing them ever since. (more…)