When I heard Alice Munro had won the Nobel Prize for literature, I pulled my copy of The View From Castle Rock off the shelf, thinking I might open it and find the perfect quote to post.
What I found instead, was this: A bookmark made by daughters of a good friend, a fellow reader with whom I traded many books back in the day. I think it was a birthday gift. Those are my cats Billie (long gone) and Gus (still spry at age 15).
The girls who made this are in college and high school now. And their mother, my friend, died in 2011 — something I still, more than two years later, can’t quite believe at times.
So instead of thinking about Alice Munro, now I’m thinking about my 40th birthday, when I was on medical leave from work, and my friend surprised me by bringing lunch by the house. I had been sitting on the patio reading Anita Shreve. We ate Thai takeout in the shade and chatted.
I don’t remember what we talked about — only what we ate and what I was reading.
I’ve retained the wrong details.
Alice Munro, I’m certain, could have turned this into literature. Her great gift has always been spinning elegant, spare short stories from ordinary circumstances.
As for me, I’m going to tuck my recovered bookmark into the novel I’m reading.
That’s my prize today.