Wednesday, September 12, 2018

THE LOVE OF A GOOD WOMAN

Alice Munro. The LOVE of a GOOD WOMAN. 1999.

Why do I own so many unread books by Canada's Nobel Prize-winner Alice Munro? Partly, the collections of short stories do not have the push or pull of plot to get me into and lead me on to the end. But reading this book club selection makes me admit: she is such an intimidating writer, she knows so much about human beings and their motivations, it's almost frightening. 

Our club decided to each pick story and present it. I was going to do "Save the Reaper" because at first I was confused, lost in the present/past switches, and unclear what the title could refer to. Then the main character Eve remembers a fragment, not correctly, seemingly inspired by the fields ready for harvest. An allusion to the Lady of Shallot, long fields of barley and of rye, before she looks into the mirror at Lancelot and the curse is realized. So the reaper is a harvest machine. It is also the grim reaper, time, approaching death. It is also the biker hive Eve stumbles into, alluding to Grim Reapers, a biker group, and the way fear of aliens from outer space is nothing compared to the cruelty and evil just down the road. 

But then I read the title story. Wow. A murder mystery without any police or detective. In effect, we the readers are the investigators. And Munro deals out the clues from the first card, hiding the mystery under a tale of a specific town in a specific time--the happy days of childhood, the variety of home life, the aspirations of women for careers, the professionals who make house calls, the challenges within relationships and within marriages. 

Who is the "good woman" and whom does she love? 



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