‘An Ounce Of Cure’ by Alice Munro

Munro, Alice 1961

An Ounce Of Cure by Alice Munro, 1961

The magic trick:

Elegantly weaving all of the story’s themes into the first two paragraphs while also setting the plot into motion

We finish our month of love stories on the SSMT site with a second visit to Alice Munro’s Canada. “An Ounce Of Cure” captures perfectly that torture of immature love and heartbreak, specifically brutal during the high-school years.

I especially like the winding way the story begins. The narrator gets from the attention-grabbing opening line of “My parents didn’t drink,” to the specifics of the plot’s key time and place within two paragraphs, touching on the narrow-minded community, her prudish parents, the pressure to prepare for adulthood and her relative innocence all along the way. And that’s quite a trick on Munro’s part.

The selection:

But ignorance, my mother said, ignorance, or innocence if you like, is not always such a fine thing as people think and I am not sure it may not be dangerous for a girl like you; then she emphasized her point, as she had a habit of doing, with some quotation which had an innocent pomposity and odour of mothballs. I didn’t even wince at it, knowing full well how it must have worked wonders with Mr. Berryman.

The evening I baby-sat for the Berrymans must have been in April. I had been in love all year, or at least since the first week in September, when a boy named Martin Collingwood had given me a surprised, appreciative, and rather ominously complacent smile in the school assembly.

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