The View

The View From Castle Rock, the titular story in the collection, traces the immigration of a Scottish family leaving Castle Rock for a better life in the new world. I’ve read that Alice Munro used her family history to write the book. I’m not sure how much is true in this story but what resonated with is that even though our family immigrant experiences were vastly different there are still some things that are shared.

In the story the family embarks on a sea voyage and at one point early on the passengers are alerted to the fact they will now have the last view of Scotland. Some people will stand by the rail to catch a quick glimpse and some will linger on until the last bit fades. The father, Old James, tells his daughter-in-law that she should go say farewell to her native land for she will not see it again.

Something similar happened to me every time we’d go visit our family in Mexico. On our drive back across the border my dad would always point out that we were coming up to the middle point on the bridge. There’s a marker at that mid point, and I would always look out the back window as we crossed the middle point on the bridge. In my mind I was saying good-bye to my family and Mexico. Funny enough now as an adult I think it’s still part of me because every time I go back and forth I always look out for that marker.

But back to the story, to me it just felt very real. I liked how I felt that I got to know each of the members in the story and had an idea about their individual dreams of the new world. And, I felt very satisfied when I finished this story. There are times when I’ve read short stories and feel like the ending is abrupt or just up in the air. Here, the author goes so far as to tell us what happened next after the voyage. I really liked that.

I read this story for A Curious Singularity and also as one of the six short stories I’m planning to read for the Short Story Challenge. This was my first introduction to Alice Munro but I will definitely go back to her writing. I want to see what else I’ve missed.

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