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Chenou Liu


Cathedral Music Haiku for Nobel Prize Winner Alice Munro


Cathedral music
in an autumn afternoon
the air grows thin


Note: Below is excerpted from Mark Levene's 'It Was About Vanishing: A Glimpse of Alice Munro's Stories, ' Alice Munro edited by Harold Bloom, Infobase Publishing,2009, p.96.

The apparent alternation between fantasy and fact is among the many brilliant elements of 'The Albanian Virgin.' Within this movement is the counterpoint between the insistent clues that connect the two romances - the priest's moustache and crucifix, the same details connected with Gjurdhi, Charlotte, and Claire in the present - and the narrative's unresolved, open-ended multiplicity. Whether the couples are actually the same is inconsequential, since, despite another severed head, the danger again is in our 'frayed... almost lost' connections, where 'views and streets deny knowledge of us, the air grows thin' (127) . In story, in fact, or in both connections can be made to seem endless. When Claire, providing a parallel story to that of Lottar, the Albanian virgin, invokes Munro's version of entropy, that 'it was about vanishing' (126) , she immediately imagines ' a destiny, ' a brief narrative of life with Nelson, her former lover, only, it seems, to discover him at her bookstore. 'For this really was Nelson, come to claim me. Or at least to accost me, and see what would happen' (127) . What happens is recorded as a sort of experiential haiku, notes towards parallel lives - 'We have been very happy. I have often felt completely alone' (128) - which serve as ellipses to the lush, cinematographic details of Lottar's rescue by the Franciscan and the limitless extension of their story: ' She called him and called him, and when the boat came into the harbor at Trieste he was waiting on the dock' (128)

Submitted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Edited: Friday, October 11, 2013
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