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Ordinary Outsiders: A Symposium on Alice Munro

ISSUE:  Summer 2006

Alice Munro is the consummate reviser. Her story “Home” appears here for the first time in the United States, but it is a story that Munro has been working on for more than thirty years. Originally published in New Canadian Stories ’74, the story’s structure always bothered Munro. She withheld it from her story collections, instead tinkering with it over the years until it was dramatically reworked—and right. Yet even after she sent the story to VQR, she continued to fine-tune and adjust. In sending her “absolutely last and final version,” Munro confessed, “I am a nightmare author when it comes to fooling around with a finished story.” But it is this very same obsessive attention to detail that has made Munro such a singular writer. She has an unshakeable commitment to her own naturalistic brand of realism—and it simply cannot be rushed. We think you will agree: it was worth the wait. To mark the story’s appearance, we have prefaced it with Marcela Valdes’s retrospective of Munro’s career, examined through the lens of Robert Thacker’s new Canadian biography; and a series of appreciations, compiled by Lisa Dickler Awano, contributed by the writers, editors, and friends who know Munro best. Together, these pieces give a sense of Munro’s life and exalt her accomplishments, but nothing better showcases the full extent of her talent than her own matchless prose.


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