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Perspective | Alice Munro's stories had a depth most novelists only dream of

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It surprises me that I can't remember the first time that I read Alice Munro, who died on Monday at 92. As a writer who let 13 years lapse between his two novels and who still (to the patient dismay of his publisher) prefers the short story to all other forms, I have vivid memories of most of my first encounters with the masters and mavericks of the story, the ones who did it better than anyone while also radically expanding the parameters of what "it" could be: Denis Johnson, Raymond Carver, Donald Barthelme, Flannery O'Connor, James Alan McPherson, William Trevor, Joy Williams, Lorrie Moore. I can tell you where I was, which story it was and whom I have to thank for bringing each of them into my life. But Munro felt like she'd just always been there. It's like how on a clear day in Portland, Ore., where I live, you can see Mount Hood from downtown. You never notice the moment that it appears; you just look up and there it is, and has been all along, even when you can't see it.

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