Short Story #2: The Bear Came Over the Mountain (Alice Munro)

Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the ten of hearts.

Story: The Bear Came Over the Mountain, by Alice Munro

Comments: (There are plenty places online where you can find a synopsis of the story, I’m not going to provide one here).

Alzheimer’s disease – or any form of dementia – is never pretty.  “Normal” life ends, not just for the person with the illness, but for all those closest to that person.  So it is with Fiona and Grant.

Every line, every detail of this story is plausible.  Munro is a super writer; she conveys so much in one succinct sentence, or one short paragraph, that a vivid, non-sentimental, and non-judgmental picture of the main characters in the story is built up quickly and easily.

I didn’t know that the title of the story is a line from a children’s song; I’m not familiar with it.  And now that I do know, I’m not sure that it really adds anything to my appreciation of the story.

From the online reviews I’ve read it seems that most people – and the movie that has been made based on the story – interpret the final paragraphs as a wonderful, romantic, back-together-again moment.  I didn’t.  I wondered to what extent Fiona knew who Grant was when she says that she is happy to see him, and talks about how he could have forsaken her but didn’t.  I wondered to what extent his reply was authentic.  And I certainly wondered about what would happen the next day, the next week – for this moment, if it is indeed a magic one, will certainly not last.

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2 thoughts on “Short Story #2: The Bear Came Over the Mountain (Alice Munro)

  1. I have Munro’s story collection “Too Much Happiness” – of which I’ve read just a few so far – and I added two of her stories to my DMI deck this year. I remember almost adding this one because the title intrigued me.

    I agree that she is a tremendous writer, and it’s easy to see why see is one of the most acclaimed short story writers around, This story sounds poignant but maybe hopeful(?) and somewhat open to interpretation. Probably not easy to pull off in a story about Alzheimer’s.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one.

    -Jay

  2. Pingback: Deal Me In 2014 – Week 2 Wrap-Up | Bibliophilopolis

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