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New Book By Bob Thacker

ThackerProfessor of English and Canadian Studies Bob Thacker has published a new book, Reading Alice Munro, 1973-2013. Bob has published a book length biography on Munro, Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives: A Biography, and has edited numerous collections of Munro’s work.  Corry Baldwin, one of the editors of Bob’s new book, wrote this overview of the book and of the work Bob has done on Munro:

 As a literary critic, Robert Thacker is in the unique position of having the trajectory of his professional life mirror that of the subject of his critical focus: Alice Munro. Thacker encountered Munro’s writing in 1973 as he was beginning his academic study, reading a recently published story of Munro’s in an issue of the Tamarack Review.   Munro herself was still early into her writing career. Thacker quickly made the writings of Munro the focus of his own critical writing, tracking her career as she became one of the most respected writers of her generation.

In Reading Alice Munro, Thacker collects much of this critical writing. The essays are chronological, and contextualized within the critical-literary times in which they appeared.

 It is this contextualization and framing that makes Reading Alice Munro more than just a collection of one critic’s writings. They do more than trace the career of a critic, offering a window into the development both of Munro’s career and of Munro criticism itself. Reading Alice Munro provides the reader with a unique perspective on the growth of critical attention given to Munro throughout her career—as well as on what Thacker regards as the often inadequate quality of this critical attention.

 For although she is admired as a writer, Munro, Thacker argues, has not been given the serious critical attention she deserves. Thacker pushes for more widespread critical appraisal of Munro’s writing, and offers his own critical commentary and assessments along the way. Foremost are the critically significant ways in which Munro blurs the distinctions between fiction and biographical writing. Thacker argues for the importance of taking these biographical influences into account, and to this end advocates the use of the extensive yet underused Munro archives at the University of Calgary.

 The essays in Reading Alice Munro recreate, as Thacker says, “moments in literary history,” and offer “a cogent record” of the emergence of a major literary figure. They are also a record of a life in Munro criticism.

~ by pdoty on November 9, 2015.

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