I love reading not only for pleasure, but for symbolism and metaphors. I know I should not admit these kind of things publicly, but it’s true! Underneath it all, I am the ultimate geek that jumps for joy when I see beyond the written word and just for a moment, find myself looking through the author’s eyes, and understand them and their purpose. However, there are days when the author just shuts me out and says “ha ha, you ain’t getting this one!”. Unfortunately I have had one of those experiences, and it kind of sucks. As a passionate supporter of Canadian authors, I try to read as much Canadian literature as I can, not only because I enjoy it but also because I want to create more awareness of it and its complexity and beauty. Canadian literature explores many new realms that I feel American audiences would appreciate, and in the future I will be sure to share many wonderful titles here.
Recently I decided to reach back into the archives of Canadian authors and pull out one of the pilgrims of Canadian writing, Alice Munro. I have enjoyed many of Munro’s works during my years as an undergraduate, and have always found her writing complex and real. This time around, I found that same complexity, but could not achieve a level of complete comprehension that would have allowed me to enjoy her writing with the same pleasure that I have previously experienced.
“Too Much Happiness”, is a series of short stories primarily focusing on many female protagonists. The stories all have an element of darkness in them, and a base sense of death and sexuality. It’s hard to describe, but in my opinion its this kind of writing ability that separates good writers from great writers. Even though I had difficulty deciphering the deeper meaning behind Alice Munro’s characters experiences, I was still intrigued and very aware that there was something more, I just couldn’t see it yet. Perhaps it is a matter of viewing the characters objectively instead of subjectively. As a Canadian, I felt that my personal opinions and knowledge of certain areas referenced in the short stories perhaps led me to make assumptions about the characters that created limitations on my understanding of the deeper meaning. In this case, familiarity worked against me, and left me asking questions that I don’t know are meant to be answered. Perhaps in this case, my readers can lend their views and tell me what they think!