75 years of CanLit on CBC: Alice Munro on Morningside

CBC 75 On November 2, 2011, CBC celebrates its 75th anniversary and CBC Books is taking part in the celebration with a look back at 75 years of Canadian literature. Over the years, CBC has interviewed authors known and new, covered literary awards and hosted book clubs. CBC personalities have written books themselves; some have had books written about them. Join us this month as we feature some of our favourite moments and books from the past 75 years!

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In 1978, Alice Munro sat down for a feature chat with Don Harron on his CBC Radio show Morningside. To date, the internationally acclaimed author has written almost 20 short story collections. Her writing has garnered numerous awards, including the Man Booker International Prize, the Giller Prize (twice) and the Governor General's Award for fiction (three times). She is often touted as one of the greatest writers of contemporary fiction and her stories are known for their realistic portrayal of relationships and the human condition, set against the backdrop of Southwestern Ontario.

Alice Munro But at the time of this interview, Munro had published just three books, the most recent being Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You. The clip starts with a reading from her short story, The Ottawa Valley, and then shifts to a fascinating conversation about Munro's writing style, her preference for short stories over novels and the female perspective.

Munro couldn't pinpoint her style exactly, but said, "what I have as an ideal...is something so clear, as if you're looking through perfectly clean water." The intention of this clarity is that "the words don't get between the reader and what's happening." Although Munro said she admires writers who have ornamental styles, she added that "it's not for what I want to say."

Her second book, Lives of Girls and Women, was her "idea of a novel," as the stories are interconnected. But she commented that she hadn't tackled writing a novel since. "Sometimes I feel that everything can be said in a short story that I would say in a novel," she explained.

Munro went on to say that the goal of her writing, regardless of length, is "to make a reality between covers that is more powerful than reality itself." Judging by the widespread acclaim her work has met with over the years, it seems clear she has accomplished that goal.

For more on "The Lives of Alice Munro," visit the Digital Archives.

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