Nearly twenty years ago, Alice Munro came to give a reading at the university where I was a student. I do not remember any visiting writer being greeted with less fanfare. Photocopied posters gave her a half-hearted welcome and she was not invited to speak in the evening, in a lecture theatre, but in a basement classroom, in late afternoon. All the same she set aside an hour to read from her collection The Progress of Love and I remember very well her level gaze and low voice, and the hypnotic state that seemed to envelop those present.
In retrospect, that lack of fanfare seems highly appropriate to a writer who gives so much attention to the mundanities of life. Munro’s stories dwell on long car journeys, housework, and getting in the groceries. She is particularly good at examining the anxieties that thrive between people who fear they