I’ve recently finished reading Alice Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. It was my first Alice Munro book, and as soon as I’ve read the last page I wanted to run to Fully Booked or Solidaridad to get another one. She has about 14 collections of short stories, in a long literary career that is fully-decorated with the most important literary prizes. She won the Nobel Prize in 2013. As big as Alice Munro is in the literary world I never really got to try her works until now. Thankfully she was recommended by my friend, the poet Elvie Razon-Gonzalez, who can read something as deep and serious like Cloud Atlas while hanging clothes or frying fish.
I started reading the book the usual lazy way, while eating cake and sipping boiling coffee under the heat of the afternoon summer sun in Greenbelt (because everything has to be al fresco). I was looking for an empty restaurant, and found Bizu. I last ate in Bizu in 2007, when I was still a moonlighter and I treated Smoketh, Mrs. T, Abe, Lenlen, and Ghea to dessert in Bizu SM Moa. I remember paying P1,000 for all 6 of us. I was shocked when I saw on the dessert tray that a tiny piece of cake already costs P500. The waitress was already flashing a wide smile, essentially trapping me in the restaurant. I am the type who can easily get trapped in these awkward circumstances.
Four pages and a few mouthfuls of delicious tiramisu in I realized that it wasn’t the proper way to read her. I had to focus, smell, lick, chew, and swallow the words–no, the lyrics–and use Stabilo Boss to mark the the passages that I love, those that I can learn from, as a person, and as a writer. While reading books voraciously supposedly helps someone write better, reading something so fantastic somehow makes me embarrassed to put anything out there.
I researched Alice Munro’s career, and discovered a long line of work that I will soon take a crack at. There is a special kind of joy whenever I belatedly come across someone great who already has such an expansive back catalogue. In 2018 I accidentally clicked on a video of Weezer performing a cover of Africa on the Jimmy Kimmel show. I researched Weezer, and marathoned over twenty-five years worth of alternative/grunge music. Strange comparison, but I find that I’ll be doing the same with the works of Alice Munro. Or if she is from the Philippines, MISS Alice Munro.