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A few nights back, before going to bed, I was reading this story called Dimensions by Alice Munro from her collection of short stories called Too much Happiness.
Like most of her stories, this too starts out in a simple way. A page out of an ordinary life. Then we get glimpses that unsettle us. We aren’t quite sure what it is because nothing is ever mentioned explicitly. The tension keeps building so gradually that an unsuspecting reader might not even realize the rising undercurrent of anxiety at all.
And then, in a span of two lines she almost punches me in the gut. She literally gives me goosebumps, makes my heartbeat more rapid, and forces me to sit up in bed at close to midnight and utter, ‘Holy shit! No wonder you won the Nobel Prize!’
And let me tell you about the beauty of those two sentences. Even there she is at her ordinary, objective best. No excess emotion at all. The story finishes with another striking and heart wrenching imagery with a bit of a balm to soothe the trembling soul.
But. I kept waking up several times in the night thinking of the scene created by those two lines. I even had a nightmare related to that.
This. This is what a brilliant author does. Even within the span of a short story, she can rip out your beating heart from your chest and make it bleed. Once again, I was reminded how I’m simply under Munro’s spell.
Oh yes, and do I recommend this book? After reading the above, what do you think? 🙂