“The Moons of Jupiter” – The Alice Munro Story of the Month: June

He had wires taped to his chest. A small screen hung over his head. On the screen a bright jagged line was continually being written. The writing was accompanied by a nervous electronic beeping. The behavior of his heart was on display. I tried to ignore it. It seemed to me that paying such close attention – in fact, dramatizing what ought to be a most secret activity – was asking for trouble. Anything exposed that way was apt to flare up and go crazy.

Three generations wrapped up in one short story – that’s a good clue that this is the June edition of “The Alice Munro Story of the Month” here at Mirror With Clouds and the story this month is Munro’s “The Moons of Jupiter”. I’ve said it numerous times before and I will probably say it again: Alice Munro puts into a short story what most authors would have to include in a novel. This story is also included in the collection Carried Away: A Selection of Stories which I borrowed from my public library.

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“The Moons of Jupiter” centers around an unnamed female narrator who lives in Canada and is a successful author (that part sounds kind of familiar). She is visiting her father in a Toronto hospital while dealing with strained relationships with her two adult daughters. The relationship with her father isn’t perfect, either.

This story has many of the same themes I’ve seen in Munro’s other stories I’ve read this year. Even in a big city among family members, the narrator experiences isolation; however, this isolation among community seems to be at least partially self-chosen. Given that the narrator is an author, or an artist in the general sense of the term, I’m curious as to what part that plays in her determination to be by herself. That aspect isn’t necessarily explored in detail but I couldn’t help thinking about it as I read the story.

One of the more touching aspects of “The Moons of Jupiter” appears as the narrator makes her way to a Natural History museum by herself and spends time in the planetarium. When she returns to the hospital, she and her father see if they can name all of Jupiter’s moons and from where the names came.

It’s amazing how a little thing like the cosmos can bring a family together.

 

 

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