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Inamajority of the stories someone looks back on life and homes in on long dormant episodes that are now emerging as the key to a critical moment in the formation of their character. [...] time itself is the most prominent player in a collection that foregrounds female experience (although two stories follow men) in the realm of limited or gravely disappointed expectations.
one whose patience is tried by Gwyn’s avoidance of the phrase “making love” the aged Born purveys a Mr. Rochester- like invitation to marriage, which she has Evoking the in favor of “older, more hilarious locu- tions, such as rumpty-rumpty, quaffing, no difficulty declining. The scene, with the monster reduced to the reptilian fate Epic in and bonker bang.” Love and the blame- lessness of its objects may be worth in- he surely deserves, does not do much to improve the probability of the proceed- Miniature terrogating, but reduced to language like ings. that it is hard to keep one’s mind on the In one of the alternate versions of his Too Much Happiness question. adventures, Adam quotes the poet George By Alice Munro Silliness aside, after Adam’s death Jim Oppen, about whom he is writing an ap- Knopf. speaks with Gwyn to verify her brother’s preciative essay. “Impossible to doubt the 304 pp. $25.95. description of their affair, or rumpty- world: it can be seen / And because it is Reviewed by rumpty or incest. She denies it utterly. “I irrevocable // It cannot be understood, Michelle Orange loved my brother . . . but I never slept with and I believe that fact is lethal.” Author, “The Sicily Papers”; him. . . . What Adam wrote was pure Perhaps as an example of what is editor, “From the Notebook”; make-believe.” And this is what Auster lethal, the following paragraph erupts contributor, New York “Times” is good at: Invisible is composed of many without much preamble in the midst of such dissonant reports of events, and the Adam’s personal angst: “Dread has be- T TURNS OUT that retirement, or even passing back and forth of responsibility for things that may merely exist in the in- come fact. Innocence has turned into guilt, and hope is a word that rhymes with I the vague and apparently instantly re- gretted suggestion of it, suits Alice Mun- flamed imaginations of his characters. If despair. In every part of Paris, people are ro. Since the publication of The View from that is confusing, it is meant to be. Auster jumping out of windows. The metro is Castle Rock (2006), which she hinted excels at fogging an endless set of mir- flooded with human excrement. The would be her last book, the 78-year-old rors. dead are crawling from their graves.” author has been at work as usual crafting E ADVANCE to Part III. Jim is still That typifies what, for me, is lacking short stories. Several have appeared in W hanging in there, reading another sheaf of manuscript and tracking down in Invisible: The horror of that “dread” does not emerge from a rich sense of time her old haunts, the New Yorker and Harp- er’s. All 10 make up Too Much Happi- the principals in his friend’s account. or place, from a setting as patiently de- ness, her 14th volume. Adam himself, fast approaching death, tailed as Adam’s inner demons. What Fellow Canadians will recognize the only has strength to refer to himself as W, could have been a genuine confrontation title as a warning, not an expression of but he has one more moral crisis to relate: with the threat of violence that shadows rapture. Known for her rigorous emotion- Junior year abroad, in Paris, he sees Mar- the city (and the world) feels like an op- al economy, and yet pegged as the stan- got again and hears her forgive Born portunistic plot turn that proves Born to dard-bearer of a microgenre that author everything, knife episode included, be- be the Satan he alleges himself to be. Timothy Findley (somewhat laughably, cause “I take people as they are . . . I don’t Or—if we believe his defense—just a to those of us from the region) dubbed ask a lot of questions.” Perhaps, she im- posturer, not a demon at all. A most un- “Southern Ontario Gothic,” Munro has plies, Adam is overreacting. likely professor, Born never convinces; made a project of inquiring into Canadi- Born is now engaged to Hélène, a rath- he is a concoction of horrifying slogans an notions of social and self-identity. The er plain but earnest French woman whose and
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