Saturday, May 26, 2012

Alice Munro / Friend of My Youth


by Alice Munro

I read books by Alice Munro in no particular order, whenever one comes to hand. I usually comment, most recently on The View from Castle Rock.
         The short stories in Friend of My Youthare set in Canada, many in the town of Wally, where of course everyone knows everyone else — even after many years. The themes here are of return, return to a place and time one knew at an earlier stage of life; confidences, women tell each other how it was or how it might be; betrayal, betrayal of friends,  sisters, lovers. People have secret lives and aspirations and sometimes they share them with others, but not always.
        In the story “Wigtime” Anita returns to the town where she grew up and encounters Margot. The used to walk home from school together.
        They spun the day out a little longer, talking. Any subject would do…. They talked so easily and endlessly that it seemed they talked about everything. But there were things they held back.
        Anita held back two ambitions of hers, which she did not reveal to anybody. One of them — to be an archeologist — was too odd, and the other — to be a fashion model — was too conceited. Margot told her ambition, which was to be a nurse. You didn’t need any money to get into it — not like university — and once you graduated you could go anywhere and get a job. New York, City, Hawaii — you could get as far away as you liked.
       Two teen age girls talk. Some things are said and some are not. It’s real life, so Margot gets married and never gets away, while it is Anita who becomes a nurse. Confidences return, as they tell each other how it happened, betrayals and all.

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