Geology and story in Alice Munro's "Axis"

Title: Geology and story in Alice Munro's "Axis"
Author: Blake, Jason
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2020, vol. 46, iss. 2, pp. 87-102
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

"Axis" appeared in 2011 in The New Yorker but never made it into Dear Life (2012), Munro's final collection. The story includes a brief but crucial description of the Niagara Escarpment and other geological features that interrupt the otherwise bland landscape of Southern Ontario. This focus is in keeping with the "deepening geological sensibility" of Munro's later work (Thacker 2016: 12). As Munro writes in "Axis," the Escarpment is a "tower of ancient-looking rock that seem[s] quite out of place" among the flat roads west of Toronto (2012: 131). This paper argues that Munro uses geological symbolism with an overtness not seen elsewhere in her work. The Cambrian and the emotional converge in "Axis" and geology serves as a model for how a story can be put together. The geological model appears to mirror a predictable map, but Munro complicates the parallel between geological or geographical mapping by adding the unpredictable human element.
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