torsdag, april 08, 2010

Alice Munro, litt meg

Her er et langt intervju med Alice Munro i Paris Review:
Over the next three days, we talked in her home, but never with the tape recorder on. We conducted the interview in our small room at the hotel, as Munro wanted to keep “the business out of the house.”

Jeg har hatt Alice Munro svirrende i bakhodet lenge, en av de jeg skulle lese en dag. Så skrev Suzy Dahl om henne, og jeg hører etter når Suzy Dahl sier noe. Så nå har jeg vært inne i Munroe-verdenen en måneds tid, en standard og en tjukkfeit bok har jeg lest.

Jeg ville helst ha hatt et fint fotografi av henne mellom hvert avsnitt, Alice Munro foran rotet på kjøkkenbenken, ved skrivebordet der det også er rot, på trappa med vin eller kaffe, men shit så kjedelige bilder det er av henne på google. Jeg legger likevel ut de intervjubitene jeg likte best selv om det blir langt uten bilder.

Chip McGrath at The New Yorker was my first editor,
and he was so good.

I was amazed that anybody could see that deeply into what I wanted to do. Sometimes we didn’t do much, but occasionally he gave me a lot of direction. I rewrote one story called The Turkey Season, which he had already bought. I thought he would simply accept the new version but he didn’t. He said, Well, there are things about the new version I like better, and there are things about the old version I like better. Why don’t we see? He never says anything like, We will. So we put it together and got a better story that way, I think.

My great aunt and my grandmother
were very important in our lives.

After all, my family lived on this collapsing enterprise of a fox and mink farm, just beyond the most disreputable part of town, and they lived in real town, in a nice house, and they kept up civilization.
So there was always tension between their house and ours, but it was very important that I had that. I loved it when I was a little girl. Then, when I was an adolescent, I felt rather burdened by it.
My mother was not in the role of the lead female in my life by that time, though she was an enormously important person; she wasn’t there as the person who set the standards anymore. So these older women moved into that role, and though they didn’t set any standards that I was at all interested in, there was a constant tension there that was important to me.


Because you didn’t like teaching fiction?

No! It was terrible. This was 1973. York was one of the more radical Canadian universities, yet my class was all male except for one girl who hardly got to speak. They were doing what was fashionable at the time, which had to do with being both incomprehensible and trite; they seemed intolerant of anything else. It was good for me to learn to shout back and express some ideas about writing that I hadn’t sharpened up before, but I didn’t know how to reach them, how not to be an adversary. Maybe I’d know now. But it didn’t seem to have anything to do with writing—more like good training for going into television or something, getting really comfortable with clichés. I should have been able to change that, but I couldn’t. I had one student who wasn’t in the class, who brought me a story. I remember tears came into my eyes because it was so good, because I hadn’t seen a good piece of student writing in so long. She asked, How can I get into your class? And I said, Don’t! Don’t come near my class, just keep bringing me your work. And she has become a writer. The only one who did.

How much do you walk?

Three miles every day, so if I know I’m going to miss a day, I have to make it up. I watched my father go through this same thing. You protect yourself by thinking if you have all these rituals and routines then nothing can get you.

Did you always have the sense that the marriage wouldn’t last?

I was like a Victorian daughter—the pressure to marry was so great, one felt it was something to get out of the way: Well, I’ll get that done, and they can’t bug me about it, and then I’ll be a real person and my life will begin. I think I married to be able to write, to settle down and give my attention back to the important thing. Sometimes now when I look back at those early years I think, This was a hard-hearted young woman. I’m a far more conventional woman now than I was then.

Doesn’t any young artist, on some level, have to be hard-hearted?

It’s worse if you’re a woman. I want to keep ringing up my children and saying, Are you sure you’re all right? I didn’t mean to be such a . . . Which of course would make them furious because it implies that they’re some kind of damaged goods. Some part of me was absent for those children, and children detect things like that. Not that I neglected them, but I wasn’t wholly absorbed. When my oldest daughter was about two, she’d come to where I was sitting at the typewriter, and I would bat her away with one hand and type with the other. I’ve told her that. This was bad because it made her the adversary to what was most important to me. I feel I’ve done everything backwards: this totally driven writer at the time when the kids were little and desperately needed me. And now, when they don’t need me at all, I love them so much. I moon around the house and think, There used to be a lot more family dinners.

Og så er det en fin historie til slutt om hvordan hun traff sin andre mann, en kar hun hadde møtt mer enn 20 år tidligere, såvidt.

3 Kommentarer:

Blogger Tonita sa ...

Takk, - minner meg på at jeg faktisk burde gjøre alvor av å lese Paris Review.
Men er jo ikke så farlig, siden du gjør det for meg. *smask*

08 april, 2010 22:41  
Blogger fr.martinsen sa ...

Og så var det Marie Simonsens twittermelding som gjorde at jeg oppdaget artikkelen. Sånn passer vi på for hverandre i disse twittertider.

Men nå har jeg lagt Paris Review i google reader, skal følge den en stund og se hva jeg syns.

09 april, 2010 08:13  
Blogger Suzy Dahl sa ...

Trodde jeg hadde lest alt som fantes av Munro-intervjuer! Men altså ikke dette. Gracias!

09 april, 2010 08:20  

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