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Alice Munro = Oscars gold

Canadian talent fared well in this year’s Oscar nominations, announced this morning. And in case you needed an excuse to catch the February 24 ceremony “ if it happens “ there’s a publishing tie-in, too.

Besides the best actress nod for Halifax’s Ellen Page for Juno, which is dominating Canadian headlines, Toronto director/actor/activist Sarah Polley is up for best adapted screenplay for her directorial debut Away From Her, based on the Alice Munro story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.” Julie Christie also got a best actress nomination for her role in the film.

The news dovetails with a mini-debate on GalleyCat about how Polley’s film has accomplished the seemingly unthinkable by sexing up Alice Munro for a mass audience. Yesterday, a mildly scandalized reader complained about the new Vintage paperback edition for The View From Castle Rock (pictured above), first published in 2004.

“I saw the cover for the paperback of Alice Munro’s latest collection, The View from Castle Rock, in an ad in the NY Times Book Review,” a GalleyCat reader emails, “and Vintage has given the book a Sessalee Hensley makeover.” … [I]t’s not too hard to see what he’s talking about, although my reference point upon first glance wasn’t so much Hensley, the fiction buyer for Barnes & Noble, as it was all those chick lit covers with women’s legs and no faces. (Not to mention the hot pink lettering; nice touch, that!) “While I understand the effort to sell more copies, it seems like a desperate approach for such a great writer,” our source continues, addressing the “chick lit” question directly: “Is that Vintage’s marketing strategy? I guess, if it gets Munro into more people’s hands it’s a good thing, but for me there’s a real disconnect in tone between the cover and the contents.”

Today, another reader rebuts by asking if Munro’s (or Munro’s publisher’s) concession to the marketplace is really such a big deal. After all, in CanLit, as in Canadian film, opportunities to sell out are few and far between.