Monday, June 14, 2010

"Passion," by Alice Munro in the collection, Runaway (NY: 2004)

On his blog here at Reading the Short Story, Charles E. May invites us to read the Alice Munro story, “Passion” (available online here at The New Yorker) as part of the International Short Story Conference held this month in Toronto (click here for program). May is participating in a panel, “Theoretical Approaches to Alice Munro’s ‘Passion’.” Her story is intriguing for all the unanswered questions it raises about the main character, Grace, and her search for meaning about her past as she revisits the Traverses’ house. We follow the young woman, marked by independence of spirit and intellect but limited by means where family background and expectations do not rise much above aspirations to learn the skill of chair caning, serviceable talent to support a decent life. The story’s real intrigue concerns such questions as the role of luck, memory, and happiness. In spite of Grace’s ‘gypsy airs’ and her ‘wild-looking dark curly hair’ that had to be tamed when she waited on tables, love and passion are out of reach. Maury who professes love does not appeal to her and his brother, the deep melancholy, married Neil sparks her thirst for mystery and daring. But he dies in an auto accident and she is given subsequently a sum of money from Neil’s mother. The story is rich in emotional tone and leaves the reader with the pleasure of mulling it over and over. Don’t’ forget to check out Mays’ blog here for further mulling over.

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