What do two women who are pillars of Canadian literature talk about when put in an interview setting? For Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro, it means a conversation that meanders from Munro's love for short stories ("it turned out I had no talent for writing novels anyway") to a shared love for flawed characters ("Has anybody ever written a book that was really good with people who were nice all the time, or even part of the time?").
The authors took part in a Google Hangout hosted by Random House Canada, with the notoriously difficult-to-pin-down Munro being questioned by Atwood for Selected Shorts, a public radio show based in New York City, for an evening dedicated to honouring her Nobel Prize in Literature. Since winning the award in October, Munro has taken part in minimal interviews, even declining to attend the ceremony, but appears to have made an exception for a talk with her longtime buddy. Virtually, at least, as she tuned in from her home in Victoria.
Munro and Atwood's friendship is well-documented (Munro even has a framed picture in the background of the interview), which is probably what allowed Atwood to ask questions about the hate mail Munro receives and questions like "Why can't your characters be more likeable?"
Despite the occasional technological glitch, it's a fun, intimate look at how two icons who wear the crown of literary celebrity lightly interact when given the opportunity, complete with giggles and eye rolls. And if anyone can figure out at least five books on Munro's bookshelf, we want to know.