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We Say Goodbye to Two Beloved Writers

Two beloved writers—one Canadian, one North Carolinian—passed away this week.

On Alice Munro

Yesterday with great sorrow we learned that Alice Munro, master and innovator of the contemporary short story, died earlier this week.

Alice Munro won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. Her stories are like mini-novels, and just when you get to the end and think “that’s that,” they open up into another possibility—an additional realm of a character’s world that goes on, not how you think it might, but somehow better, more inevitable. Her stories were alive for her, too—her characters continued to live on in her mind, and she was a consummate craftsman, famous for rethinking and rewriting the endings she’d given them.

While reading her last collection (out of thirteen), Dear Life (2012), I remember reading and rereading the ending to “Corrie,” a story in the collection, and shutting the book in open-mouthed surprise, then opening it again to make sure I read it right. It was always exciting to see what she could bend a story could do.

Munro shows us what’s possible. Her scope, in terms of geography, was not a broad one (mostly set in Huron County in rural Ontario), but her lens covered everything: the complexities of gender, love, desire, jealousy, work and class. She’s a genius, too, of the layering of time and plot.

Munro always seemed so perennially young in her prose, so youthful and fresh-faced in her photos, I foolishly believed she would never die. So long as we read her stories, she never will.

On Samm-Art Williams

On May 13, playwright and screenwriter Samm-Art Williams died at his home in Burgaw.

Williams was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2010, after a remarkable career on stage and screen as writer, actor, director, and producer. His 1980 play Home was nominated for the Tony Award for best play, and won an Outer Critics Circle Award and an NAACP Image Award. He also received two Emmy nominations, and was an executive producer of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

The Roundabout Theatre Company is producing a Broadway revival of Home, directed by Kenny Leon and scheduled to open May 17 at the Todd Haimes Theatre on West 42nd Street.

Like all their many other readers and fans, we mourn the loss of Munro, Williams, and their irreplaceable voices.