Opinion | How to Buy Yourself a Longer Life


Following the death this month of Alice Munro, a Nobel-recognized master of the short story, The Times resurfaced an appraisal of her work by Ben Dolnick that was published in January. It included this astute observation about the genre in which she glittered: “There’s something reassuring about novels — you know where you stand with them. Even if all you’ve read is ‘Moby-Dick,’ you can say with a straight face that you’ve read Melville, just as a visitor to Paris can say she’s been to France. Short story writers, though, don’t have capital cities. You can wander and wander through their collected works and still feel as if you’re missing the main attractions. You never know quite when you’ve earned a passport stamp.” (Thanks to Peter Bernstein of White Plains, N.Y., and Margaret Velarde of Denver, among others, for spotlighting Ben’s article.)

In a tribute to Munro on Literary Hub, Jonny Diamond observed: “She wrote for everyone who has let the sharp edge of regret dull into a daily ache, who has been surprised by love, by need, by the desire for more, who has hesitated and lost, who has kept going, kept wondering, kept feeling, so deeply and so quietly, through all the endless days that take us from one end of life to the other.” (Barb Tiddens, Metuchen, N.J.)

Sticking with books: Ron Charles in The Washington Post had a tiny quibble with the novel “All Fours,” by Miranda July, whose protagonist turns her temporary lodging into an arena of erotic self-discovery. “This motel oasis, designed for her comfort, feels to her like a revelation and a revolution,” he wrote. “But it’s essentially Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’ with K-Y Jelly. And that’s not the only thing slippery about it. Yes, ‘All Fours’ is much funnier and infinitely sexier than Woolf’s essay, but the novel’s financial naïveté feels almost willful. The narrator imagines that her newfound freedom is predicated on having more confidence and better orgasms, but it’s actually predicated on having better child care and health insurance.” (Melissa Guensler, Fredericksburg, Texas)

Also in The Post, Matt Bai sought to trace J.D. Vance’s boundless sycophancy, including his appearance last week at Donald Trump’s trial: “I can’t say from experience how you’re supposed to know when you’ve officially become part of an organized crime family, but if you feel it necessary for your professional advancement to show up at a courthouse and pay respect to a patriarch charged with fraudulent payments to a porn star, chances are you check all the boxes.” (Stacia Lewandowski, Santa Fe, N.M., and Daniel Heckman, Decatur, Ill., among others)

In The Atlantic, Tom Nichols marveled at all the suck-ups surrounding Trump: “This G.O.P. embrace of Trump’s nihilism is not some standard-issue, ‘my guy, right or wrong’ defense of the party leader. What Republicans are doing now is a deeper and more stomach-churning abandonment of dignity, a rejection of moral agency in the name of ambition.” (Danny Boyson, Collegeville, Pa.)

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