The emotional housekeeping of the world

From The Guardian:

Alice-Munro---Too-Much-Ha-001 In “Fiction“, one of the 10 new stories collected in Too Much Happiness, a woman called Joyce takes a vague dislike to a guest at a family party. The guest, Maggie, whom Joyce thinks of as the sort of young woman “whose mission in life is to make people feel uncomfortable”, turns out to be a writer who's just published her first book. Joyce buys a copy on a whim a few days later, not sure if she'll actually read it (“she has a couple of good biographies on the go at the moment”). She becomes even more unsure when she realises that it's “a collection of short stories, not a novel . . . It seems to diminish the book's authority, making the author seem like somebody who is just hanging on to the gates of Literature, rather than safely settled inside.”

Alice Munro has said in interviews that she once had similar anxieties about short stories – that she spent her 20s fretting about not producing a novel. These days, along with William Trevor, she is one of the grandees of English-language short fiction. Yet people still like to worry about her authority. In truth, there's little substance to these anxieties: she's had an international readership since the 1970s; this year she added the Man Booker International prize to her already substantial collection of awards; and her daughter has published a memoir about being brought up by “an icon”. Even so, there's a persistent idea of her as an underpraised housewife-genius from the Canadian backwoods, perhaps because it's easier to talk about the literary politics of being a woman, Canadian or a short-story writer than it is to give a sense of her densely packed but effortless-seeming work.

More here.