It’s 1961 and the female narrator is traveling from Vancouver to Ontario with her husband, Andrew, and two young daughters. They are driving via the United States because it seems more exotic to travel in a foreign country. This is the setting for Alice Munro’s short story “Miles City, Montana”, and as the road trip continues, the reader gets the impression that perhaps not all is right with the world, especially when Andrew realizes there is no lettuce on the sandwiches that his wife made for the trip.
Squabbles and all, the reader feels that 1961 is the present until Munro quietly and perfectly slips in this paragraph:
I haven’t seen Andrew in years, don’t know if he is still thin, has gone completely gray, insists on lettuce, tells the truth, or is hearty and disappointed.
Then we’re back to 1961. The reader understands that neither of the two adults are accepted by the family and parents of the other. The story ends before they get to Ontario where their families live. The above paragraph puts a different spin to the rest of the story and how the road trip could potentially end.
It’s amazing how much control Munro has with a few words.
This story is included in Alice Munro’s collection Carried Away: A Selection of Stories which I borrowed from my public library.