The final part of Alice Munro's latest collection, Dear Life, comprises four works she describes as "not quite stories". They are, she writes, "autobiographical in feeling ... the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life”.
Published here exclusively is one of those:"Voices"
When my mother was growing up, she and her whole family would go to dances. These would be held in the schoolhouse, or sometimes in a farmhouse with a big enough front room. Young and old would be in attendance. Someone would play the piano — the household piano or the one in the school — and someone would have brought a violin. The square dancing had complicated patterns or steps, which a person known for a special facility would call out at the top of his voice (it was always a man) and in a strange desperate sort of haste which was of no use at all unless you knew the dance already. As everybody did, having learned them all by the time they were ten or twelve years old.