Book//mark – The Moons of Jupiter | Alice Munro, 1978

The Moons of Jupiter | Alice Munro, 1978

Cover of the first edition, 1982                                          Alice Munro

“They were all in their early thirties. An age at which it is sometimes
hard to admit that what you are living is your life.”

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

I lie in bed beside my little sister, listening to the singing in the yard. Life is transformed,
by these voices, by these presences, by their high spirits and grand esteem, for themselves
and each other. My parents, all of us, are on holiday. The mixture of voices and words is
so complicated and varied it seems that such confusion, such jolly rivalry, will go on forever,
and then to my surprise—for I am surprised, even though I know the pattern of rounds—the
song is thinning out, you can hear the two voices striving.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.

Then the one voice alone, one of them singing on, gamely, to the finish. One voice in which
there is an unexpected note of entreaty, of warning, as it hangs the five separate words on the
air. Life is. Wait. But a. Now, wait. Dream.”

“Now that I think of it, she looked splendid. I wish I had met her somewhere else.
I wish I had appreciated her as she deserved. I wish that everything had gone differently.”

“Her attitude towards sex is very comforting to those of her friends who get into terrible
states of passion and jealousy, and feel cut loose from their moorings. She seems to regard
sex as a wholesome, slightly silly indulgence, like dancing and nice dinners–something that
shouldn’t interfere with people’s being kind and cheerful to each other.”

“The images, the language, of pornography, and romance are alike;
monotonous and mechanically seductive, quickly leading to despair.”
“Speculation can be more gentle, can take its time, when it is not driven by desire.”

“Now I no longer believe that people’s secrets are defined and
communicable, or their feelings full-blown and easy to recognize.”

“Everybody said to me back home, what do you want to go to Alaska for,
and I said, because I’ve never been there, isn’t that a good enough reason?”

“I saw how the forms of love might be maintained with a condemned person but with
the love in fact measured and disciplined, because you have to survive. It could be done
so discreetly that the object of such care would not suspect, any more than she would
suspect the sentence of death itself.”

“All they did was stir up desire, and longing, and hopelessness, a trio of miserable caged
wildcats that had been installed in me without my permission, or at least without my
understanding how long they would live and how vicious they would be.”

“Long after all the chocolates were eaten, and the cousins had gone, we kept the chocolate-box
in the linen-drawer in the dining-room sideboard, waiting for some ceremonial use that never
presented itself. It was still full of the empty chocolate cups of dark, fluted paper. In the
wintertime I would sometimes go into the cold dining room and sniff at the cups, inhaling
their smell of artifice and luxury; I would read again the descriptions on the map provided
on the inside of the box-top: hazelnut, creamy nougat, Turkish delight, golden toffee,
peppermint cream.”

“These are not sentimental keepsakes. She never looks at them, and often forgets what
she has there. They are not booty, they don’t have ritualistic significance. She does not take
something every time she goes to Gordon’s house, or every time she stays over, or to mark
what she might call memorable visits. She doesn’t do it in a daze and she doesn’t seem to
be under a compulsion. She just takes something, every now and then, and puts it away
in the dark of the old tobacco tin, and more or less forgets about it.”

“for me to say.” He smiled; he shook his head. “I don’t”

Alice Munro, The Moons of Jupiter, 1978


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