Friday, October 8, 2010

On Perspective

One of my favorite authors is Alice Munro. (Back in the 1990s, I briefly worked on a case with her son and was more in awe of the fact that he was Alice Munro's son than his reputation as a litigation lawyer.) Her prose is uncomplicated and her stories artfully capture the human condition. Her latest offering is a collection of short stories, (cheekily) titled Too Much Happiness.

Too Much Happiness: Stories

I bought the book earlier this year, purposely choosing it for its short story format because sometimes it is weeks before I have time to continue where I left off. As with all beautiful writing, I found the time to continue and finished the book in the course of three consecutive evenings, in the last evening reading until just before the break of dawn. Like young children's literature, short story fiction is a genre that requires so much precision. The characters in Too Much Happiness are recognizable and relatable, and the vignettes that the writer chooses for developing these characters are genius.

To me, perspective is getting out of the drama of our own lives and daily interactions, in order to appreciate that everyone else has a story too. Two weeks ago, one of the babies in our newborn daughter's room died; my husband and I felt so sad for the parents, whom we had seen making regular visits up to the day before their baby's death. When my husband shared this with his colleague, the colleague made an interesting remark: everyone who works in the finance industry (and complains about his job) should spend one week a year in a hospital.

Alternatively, I suggest you read Alice Munro for similar effect.

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