This quote, a well known one, by Alice Munro just kills me.
I guess I’m a kind of anachronismâ€¦ because I write about places where your roots are and most people don’t live that kind of life any more at all. Most writers, probably, the writers who are most in tune with our time, write about places that have no texture, because this is where most of us live.
I don’t buy it, but I sense the question of change here, like watching 24 hour news and thus washed over by the “present.” Texture must be sense, the sense of space and the suitability of being in it. I don’t buy it because I wont necessarily live where my son or daughter “will” live. Munro’s stories draw me because they pull at the notion of memory from many directions. The recall the smaller elements of experience. These become vast.
I love Munro. But it does seem that her stories are grounded in human nature just as much as era or background. I think that the main thing that comes through with her are the characters. Could they be placed in the more unusual spaces of current contemporary fiction, I don’t know. It’d be neat to see how they get along. As readers we do open ourselves up more now to accept the unknown without seeking the comfort of home.
I disagree with her sentence that begins with “Most writers”. Drop that phrase and I would agree with the resulting sentiment. True Historical backdrops seem too often overlooked.. and I’m talking before the 20th cenury here. Perhaps mainstream writers find it too much of a challenge/hassle to write in Period setting. One does have to be a bit of a history buff. But isn’t that why Writers always seemed to excely in History in school ;-)
Perhaps it’s more simple than that: Writers don’t want to be looked at as outdated. Though any writer with his or her salt shouldn’t ever worry about that.
Sort of related here: I’ve recently started mapping the framework to a new novel that takes place during and after the Second Crusade. One of the main things I have to keep in mind is not to make my characters too-forward thinking. There are just some thoughts and ideals that would be too advanced for a character in that period of history. But these are the kinds of challenges I like as a writer, since they force me to be a sort of anachronism. I like being an anachronistic (is that a word? lol) writer. That’s where I find my strength is because we can always learn from history.
Anyway, I find the quote to be too ambiguous. Just another writer using complex psychological phrases to describe the writing craft. I don’t know why writers do this? Leave the fancy dress-ups to the scholars and journalists. What good is a writer whose language goes over the head of the reader?
I don’t read a language that’s over the head here. The issue, I feel, is a question of craft. If you want to write about the crusades then the question of texture and built memory here, as Munro suggests it here, matters.
I don’t have issue with her drawing a connection between writing and anachronism. I have issue with how she brought this across in her quote. I feel as though I’m missing something very imporatnt she is trying to say to me as writer. For some reason I just can’t because of they way she is speaking here.