Silly, censorious feet
It took me a long time to read Friend of My Youth, an Alice Munro collection from 1991. I read about half the short stories at summer’s outset, and then left the book lying around, the sight of its plaid jacket sometimes triggering guilt pangs. After a relaxing three-day weekend to the Adirondacks earlier this month, I finally found the motivation to finish it. There were two vivid scene-setting passages from separate short stories toward the end that I particularly enjoyed.
1. “She ought to have stayed away from this neighborhood. Everywhere she walked here, under the chestnut trees with their flat gold leaves, and the red-limbed arbutus, and the tall Garry oaks, which suggested fairy stories, European forests, woodcutters, witches—everywhere her footsteps reproached her, saying what-for, what-for, what -for. This reproach was just what she had expected—it was what she courted—and there was something cheap about doing such a thing. Something cheap and useless. She knew it. But what-for, what-for, what-for, wrong-and-waste, wrong-and-waste went her silly, censorious feet.” [from the short story titled “Differently”]
2. “Austin hangs on to Karin as they struggle along the boardwalk—or where the boardwalk must be, under the snow. Sheets of ice drop from the burdened branches of the willow trees to the ground, and the sun shines through them from the west; they’re like walls of pearl. Ice is woven through the wire of the high fence to make it like a honeycomb. Waves have frozen as they hit the shore, making mounds and caves, a crazy landscape, out to the rim of the open water. And all the playground equipment, the children’s swings and climbing bars, has been transformed by ice, hung with organ pipes or buried in what looks like half-carved statues, shapes of ice that might be people, animals, angels, monsters, left unfinished.” [from the short story titled “Pictures of the Ice”]
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