Alice Munro, Nobel Laureate and Master of the Short Story, Dies at 92

“I’m thinking of something now, how it might be a novel, but I bet you it won’t be,” she said in a 1998 interview, just after publication of her widely acclaimed collection of short stories “The Love of a Good Woman.” She confessed that on occasion she had experimented with stretching her stories into novels but found that the stories “start to sag” when she did so, as though being taken beyond their natural limits. Still, the lure never completely evaporated. “My ambition is to write a novel before I die,” she said, also in 1998.

She never did.

Shortly before receiving her Nobel in 2013, Ms. Munro told several interviewers that she had decided to stop writing. As far back as 2009, she had disclosed that she’d undergone heart bypass surgery and had been treated for cancer. Her declining health had robbed her of strength, but she also remarked that she’d been writing since she was 20 and had grown weary of what Del, a character in “Lives of Girls and Women” who is generally taken to be Ms. Munro’s proxy, says is a writer’s only duty, which is “to produce a masterpiece.”

“That’s a long time to be working,” Ms. Munro said, “and I thought maybe it’s time to take it easy.”

Alice Ann Laidlaw was born July 10, 1931, in the village of Wingham, Ontario, hard by the banks of Lake Huron. She was the first of three children of Robert Eric Laidlaw and Anne Clarke Chamney. Her father had tried his luck at the rather exotic undertaking of raising silver foxes and mink, but when that failed he went through a number of professions, including stints as foundry watchman and turkey farmer.

When Anne Laidlaw developed Parkinson ’s disease, it fell to Alice, not yet a teenager but the oldest of the three children, to care for her mother, an experience that she wove through her writing. She was able to attend college after winning a two-year scholarship to the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, about 65 miles south of Wingham.

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