If I did not respond that much to Alice Munro's work, it's because she writes about a territory I know all too well: the everyday betrayals of trust that ruin people's lives. It did not occur to me that there was anything special about what she said, having seen so much of this sort of thing in my lifetime, but on thinking it over I guess the plight of ordinary people as she views it is an important topic.
The latest New Yorker has reprinted her masterful story, The Bear Came Over the Mountain. This is the tale of license for men and duty for women. What is especially telling about this work is the revelation of all the secrets men keep from women (which of course the women know all about and yet can't do much about)-- and yet they demand a smooth and comforting domestic life, after all they have gotten away with. Well, some of them might just be a little surprised at what the Frau was up to!
Life-ruining betrayals. This was John Galsworthy's territory,too: considered to be a minor novelist, but he was writing about average people, whose lives were full of great joys and sorrows that they could't articulate. So when they do manage to say it, it has a huge impact.
I'm glad that this woman, someone who comes right out and writes about the flip side of respectability has been honored with the Nobel Prize. This is not the "small town" genre that some mistake it for but universal in its meaning. Forcing women to live a lie is a great sin, especially when it is someone else's lie.