Runaway by Alice Munro
This is from the story, Powers:
Who should I see in the store but Tessa Netterby whom I hadn’t seen for maybe a year. I felt badly I’d never got out to see her, because I used to try to keep up a sort of friendship after she dropped out of school. I think I was the only one that did. She was all wrapped up in a big shawl and she looked like something out of a storybook. Top Heavy, actually, because she has that broad face with its black curly mop and her broad shoulders, though she can’t be much over five feet tall. She just smiled, the same old Tessa. And I asked how she was – you always do that when you see her, seriously, because of her long siege of whatever it was that took her out of school when she was around fourteen. But also you ask that because there isn’t much else to think of to say, she is not in the world that the rest of us are in. She is not in any clubs and can’t take part in any sports and she does not have any normal social life. She does have a sort of life involving people and there is nothing wrong with it, but I wouldn’t know how to talk about it and maybe neither would she.
This collection of short stories has an introduction by Jonathan Franzen, in which he underlines Munro’s claim to being the best fiction writer now working in North America.
I can’t argue with him. I read these stories and stand speechless before them. She makes me glad I’m alive. She dominates this world of the short-story, packs into it much more than I was ever aware that it could hold. And I’m a fan of the short-story, have been for years.
I’m always coming across people who tell me, I can’t be bothered with short stories, they’re over before they begin. I much prefer a novel.
And the novel is my own preference as well, but it shouldn’t close-out the possibility of other forms.
For anyone interested in the craft of writing, this book is a must. For anyone interested in poetry, please don’t miss it. You thinkers; you seekers after magic; you unbelievers; are you listening, paying close attention? And for all of you out there who are prepared to stand stupidly in front of this life of ours with a smile on your face and your mouth open, there is a genius at work in Alice Munro, don’t let it pass on the other side of the street.