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The View from Castle Rock: Stories

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The View from Castle Rock: Stories Cover

ISBN13: 9781400042821
ISBN10: 1400042828
Condition: Standard
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Staff Pick

Munro's prose shines in this new collection inspired by her Scottish family history. With stories as subtle and lucid as always, this is her most personal fiction to date.
Recommended by Jill Owens, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"This amalgam of history, fiction, and memoir is unlike any historical fiction or autobiographical fiction that I have ever encountered....The View From Castle Rock is not only every bit as beautiful and substantial a work as Munro's readers might hope for; it is also a work of dizzying originality. In fact, it creates an entirely new category of book into which only it can fall." Deborah Eisenberg, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A powerful new collection from one of our most beloved, admired, and honored writers.

In stories that are more personal than any that she's written before, Alice Munro pieces her family's history into gloriously imagined fiction. A young boy is taken to Edinburgh's Castle Rock, where his father assures him that on a clear day he can see America, and he catches a glimpse of his father's dream. In stories that follow, as the dream becomes a reality, two sisters-in-law experience very different kinds of passion on the long voyage to the New World; a baby is lost and magically reappears on a journey from an Illinois homestead to the Canadian border.

Other stories take place in more familiar Munro territory, the towns and countryside around Lake Huron, where the past shows through the present like the traces of a glacier on the landscape and strong emotions stir just beneath the surface of ordinary comings and goings. First love flowers under the apple tree, while a stronger emotion presents itself in the barn. A girl hired as summer help, and uneasy about her "place" in the fancy resort world she's come to, is transformed by her employer's perceptive parting gift. A father whose early expectations of success at fox farming have been dashed finds strange comfort in a routine night job at an iron foundry. A clever girl escapes to college and marriage. Evocative, gripping, sexy, unexpected — these stories reflect a depth and richness of experience. The View from Castle Rock is a brilliant achievement from one of the finest writers of our time.

Review:

"[Signature] Reviewed by Sigrid Nunez Ten collections of stories and one novel have made Alice Munro one of the most praised fiction writers of our time. In The View from Castle Rock her full range of gifts is on display: indelible characters, deep insights about human behavior and relationships, vibrant prose, and seductive, suspenseful storytelling. Munro, in a foreword, tells how, a decade ago, she began looking into her family history, going all the way back to 18th-century Scotland. This material eventually became the stories presented here in part 1, 'No Advantages.' Munro also worked on 'a special set of stories,' none of which she included in previous collections, because they were 'rather more personal than the other stories I had written.' They now appear here in part 2, 'Home.' With both parts, Munro says, she has had a free hand with invention. Munro has used personal material in her fiction before, but at 75, she has given us something much closer to autobiography. Much of the book concerns people who have died, and places and ways of life that no longer exist or have been completely transformed, and though Munro is temperamentally unsentimental the mood is often elegiac. One difficulty that can arise with this kind of hybrid work is that the reader is likely to be distracted by the itch to know whether an event really occurred, or how much has been made up or embellished. In the title story, the reader is explicitly told that almost everything has been invented, and this enthralling multilayered narrative about an early 19th-century Scottish family's voyage to the New World is the high point of the collection. On the other hand, 'What Do You Want to Know For?' at the heart of which is an account of a cancer scare Munro experienced, reads like pure memoir and seems not only thin by comparison but insufficiently imagined as a short story. Perhaps none of the stories here is quite up to the mastery of earlier Munro stories such as 'The Beggar Maid' or 'The Albanian Virgin.' But getting this close to the core of the girl who would become the master is a privilege and a pleasure not to be missed. And reliably as ever when the subject is human experience, Munro's stories — whatever the proportions of fiction and fact — always bring us the truth. (Nov.) Sigrid Nunez's most recent novel, The Last of Her Kind, will be published in paperback by Picador in December." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[Signature] Reviewed by Sigrid Nunez Ten collections of stories and one novel have made Alice Munro one of the most praised fiction writers of our time. In The View from Castle Rock her full range of gifts is on display: indelible characters, deep insights about human behavior and relationships, vibrant prose, and seductive, suspenseful storytelling.Munro, in a foreword, tells how, a decade ago, she began looking into her family history, going all the way back to 18th-century Scotland. This material eventually became the stories presented here in part 1, 'No Advantages.' Munro also worked on 'a special set of stories,' none of which she included in previous collections, because they were 'rather more personal than the other stories I had written.' They now appear here in part 2, 'Home.' With both parts, Munro says, she has had a free hand with invention. Munro has used personal material in her fiction before, but at 75, she has given us something much closer to autobiography. Much of the book concerns people who have died, and places and ways of life that no longer exist or have been completely transformed, and though Munro is temperamentally unsentimental the mood is often elegiac.One difficulty that can arise with this kind of hybrid work is that the reader is likely to be distracted by the itch to know whether an event really occurred, or how much has been made up or embellished. In the title story, the reader is explicitly told that almost everything has been invented, and this enthralling multilayered narrative about an early 19th-century Scottish family's voyage to the New World is the high point of the collection. On the other hand, 'What Do You Want to Know For?' at the heart of which is an account of a cancer scare Munro experienced, reads like pure memoir and seems not only thin by comparison but insufficiently imagined as a short story.Perhaps none of the stories here is quite up to the mastery of earlier Munro stories such as 'The Beggar Maid' or 'The Albanian Virgin.' But getting this close to the core of the girl who would become the master is a privilege and a pleasure not to be missed. And reliably as ever when the subject is human experience, Munro's stories — whatever the proportions of fiction and fact — always bring us the truth. Sigrid Nunez's most recent novel, The Last of Her Kind, will be published in paperback by Picador in December." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"With this new collection, Munro more than lives up to her reputation as a master of short fiction....All the narratives exhibit Munro's keen eye for realistic details and her ability to illuminate the depths of seemingly mundane lives and relationships. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Writing style — yes, predictably limpid and lovely....But [many of the stories] taste like autobiographical essays....On the other hand, only purists will howl over the issue of authorial intrusion, and the vast number of fiction readers will be completely absorbed." Booklist

Review:

"The View from Castle Rock is a sad and beautifully written book." BookPage

Review:

"It's a fascinating experiment, and a successful one, though its early pages demand some patience of the reader." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"The genre doyenne's perfectly modulated tales have always scored a direct wallop to the cerebral cortex....She doesn't broach any new themes, but Munro's prodigious talent is all here. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"The View From Castle Rock...feels deeply misjudged: Munro has scrupulously focused a microscope on her own life and history — to the point where she doesn't entirely allow her stories to come alive." Dallas-Ft. Worth Star Telegram

Review:

"Castle Rock is an extremely good book, filled with subtle prose and insights into human nature. It is not Munro's best collection....But for the Munro fanatic, anything from our northern Chekhov is good news." USA Today

Review:

"A blending and blurring of documented fact with the Munro gifts for dramatizing incident and fleshing character....This is the mortal Munro staking her place in that sturdy bloodline as the one of her generation who writes it down." Katherine Dunn, Portland Oregonian

Review:

"Few of the stories in The View From Castle Rock work as fully realized fictions, and the whole fails to cohere despite the presence of an unnamed narrator meant to link them." Floyd Skloot, The San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"These are Alice Munro's most personal stories. We should be grateful, for they give us a privileged portrait of a brilliant artist." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Synopsis:

In stories that are more personal than any that she's written before, Munro pieces her family's history into gloriously imagined fiction. Evocative, gripping, sexy, unexpected — these stories reflect a depth and richness of experience.

About the Author

Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has published eleven new collections of stories — Dance of the Happy Shades; Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You; The Beggar Maid; The Moons of Jupiter; The Progress of Love; Friend of My Youth; Open Secrets; The Love of a Good Woman; Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage; Runaway; and a volume of Selected Stories — as well as a novel, Lives of Girls and Women. During her distinguished career she has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including three of Canada's Governor General's Literary Awards and two of its Giller Prizes, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Lannan Literary Award, England's W. H. Smith Book Award, the United States' National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Edward MacDowell Medal in literature. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and other publications, and her collections have been translated into thirteen languages.

Table of Contents

Foreword

PART ONE / No Advantages

No Advantages

The View from Castle Rock

Illinois

The Wilds of Morris Township

Working for a Living

PART TWO / Home

Fathers

Lying Under the Apple Tree

Hired Girl

The Ticket

Home

What Do You Want to Know For?

EPILOGUE

Messenger

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

rhrjruk, January 10, 2007 (view all comments by rhrjruk)
Alice Munro is the finest writer of fiction today. That she works almost entirely in the short story form (and sets stories almost always in small town Canada)is much remarked upon by the heavyweight (male) novelists who write bigger, butcher books but genuflect before her, awestruck by the huge, quiet journeys her stories cover in the space of so few pages, so few words. She sometimes travel across decades in a single, sweeping, epic sentence, and she does so without breaking a sweat.

To say that The View from Castle Rock shows an artist "at the height of her powers" is, I suppose, as euphemistic as saying that this is a woman "of a certain age." OK, then. Alice Munro is both: She's getting older and getting greater. Her art and life now have the scope of maturity, and that maturity is the real "view" of the title.

In this collection she teases the borders between memoir and story, and she explores how the voices of family and heritage and autobiography grow up to become the narrative voices of fictions.

It's absolutely wonderful to watch the master at work.

I have only one quibble with the book: Its utterly unnecessary introduction in which Munro explains the form of the collection (this batch is based on family history, this batch I just made up, but none of it happened exactly like this, etc).

Come on, Alice. You the Man. You don't need to explain. Leave that stuff to the pygmies and the kids.
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(10 of 19 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400042821
Subtitle:
Stories
Author:
Munro, Alice
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Short stories
Copyright:
Publication Date:
November 7, 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.58x6.04x1.20 in. 1.20 lbs.

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The View from Castle Rock: Stories Used Hardcover
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Product details 368 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9781400042821 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Munro's prose shines in this new collection inspired by her Scottish family history. With stories as subtle and lucid as always, this is her most personal fiction to date.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "[Signature] Reviewed by Sigrid Nunez Ten collections of stories and one novel have made Alice Munro one of the most praised fiction writers of our time. In The View from Castle Rock her full range of gifts is on display: indelible characters, deep insights about human behavior and relationships, vibrant prose, and seductive, suspenseful storytelling. Munro, in a foreword, tells how, a decade ago, she began looking into her family history, going all the way back to 18th-century Scotland. This material eventually became the stories presented here in part 1, 'No Advantages.' Munro also worked on 'a special set of stories,' none of which she included in previous collections, because they were 'rather more personal than the other stories I had written.' They now appear here in part 2, 'Home.' With both parts, Munro says, she has had a free hand with invention. Munro has used personal material in her fiction before, but at 75, she has given us something much closer to autobiography. Much of the book concerns people who have died, and places and ways of life that no longer exist or have been completely transformed, and though Munro is temperamentally unsentimental the mood is often elegiac. One difficulty that can arise with this kind of hybrid work is that the reader is likely to be distracted by the itch to know whether an event really occurred, or how much has been made up or embellished. In the title story, the reader is explicitly told that almost everything has been invented, and this enthralling multilayered narrative about an early 19th-century Scottish family's voyage to the New World is the high point of the collection. On the other hand, 'What Do You Want to Know For?' at the heart of which is an account of a cancer scare Munro experienced, reads like pure memoir and seems not only thin by comparison but insufficiently imagined as a short story. Perhaps none of the stories here is quite up to the mastery of earlier Munro stories such as 'The Beggar Maid' or 'The Albanian Virgin.' But getting this close to the core of the girl who would become the master is a privilege and a pleasure not to be missed. And reliably as ever when the subject is human experience, Munro's stories — whatever the proportions of fiction and fact — always bring us the truth. (Nov.) Sigrid Nunez's most recent novel, The Last of Her Kind, will be published in paperback by Picador in December." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "[Signature] Reviewed by Sigrid Nunez Ten collections of stories and one novel have made Alice Munro one of the most praised fiction writers of our time. In The View from Castle Rock her full range of gifts is on display: indelible characters, deep insights about human behavior and relationships, vibrant prose, and seductive, suspenseful storytelling.Munro, in a foreword, tells how, a decade ago, she began looking into her family history, going all the way back to 18th-century Scotland. This material eventually became the stories presented here in part 1, 'No Advantages.' Munro also worked on 'a special set of stories,' none of which she included in previous collections, because they were 'rather more personal than the other stories I had written.' They now appear here in part 2, 'Home.' With both parts, Munro says, she has had a free hand with invention. Munro has used personal material in her fiction before, but at 75, she has given us something much closer to autobiography. Much of the book concerns people who have died, and places and ways of life that no longer exist or have been completely transformed, and though Munro is temperamentally unsentimental the mood is often elegiac.One difficulty that can arise with this kind of hybrid work is that the reader is likely to be distracted by the itch to know whether an event really occurred, or how much has been made up or embellished. In the title story, the reader is explicitly told that almost everything has been invented, and this enthralling multilayered narrative about an early 19th-century Scottish family's voyage to the New World is the high point of the collection. On the other hand, 'What Do You Want to Know For?' at the heart of which is an account of a cancer scare Munro experienced, reads like pure memoir and seems not only thin by comparison but insufficiently imagined as a short story.Perhaps none of the stories here is quite up to the mastery of earlier Munro stories such as 'The Beggar Maid' or 'The Albanian Virgin.' But getting this close to the core of the girl who would become the master is a privilege and a pleasure not to be missed. And reliably as ever when the subject is human experience, Munro's stories — whatever the proportions of fiction and fact — always bring us the truth. Sigrid Nunez's most recent novel, The Last of Her Kind, will be published in paperback by Picador in December." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "This amalgam of history, fiction, and memoir is unlike any historical fiction or autobiographical fiction that I have ever encountered....The View From Castle Rock is not only every bit as beautiful and substantial a work as Munro's readers might hope for; it is also a work of dizzying originality. In fact, it creates an entirely new category of book into which only it can fall." (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"Review" by , "With this new collection, Munro more than lives up to her reputation as a master of short fiction....All the narratives exhibit Munro's keen eye for realistic details and her ability to illuminate the depths of seemingly mundane lives and relationships. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Writing style — yes, predictably limpid and lovely....But [many of the stories] taste like autobiographical essays....On the other hand, only purists will howl over the issue of authorial intrusion, and the vast number of fiction readers will be completely absorbed."
"Review" by , "The View from Castle Rock is a sad and beautifully written book."
"Review" by , "It's a fascinating experiment, and a successful one, though its early pages demand some patience of the reader."
"Review" by , "The genre doyenne's perfectly modulated tales have always scored a direct wallop to the cerebral cortex....She doesn't broach any new themes, but Munro's prodigious talent is all here. (Grade: B+)"
"Review" by , "The View From Castle Rock...feels deeply misjudged: Munro has scrupulously focused a microscope on her own life and history — to the point where she doesn't entirely allow her stories to come alive."
"Review" by , "Castle Rock is an extremely good book, filled with subtle prose and insights into human nature. It is not Munro's best collection....But for the Munro fanatic, anything from our northern Chekhov is good news."
"Review" by , "A blending and blurring of documented fact with the Munro gifts for dramatizing incident and fleshing character....This is the mortal Munro staking her place in that sturdy bloodline as the one of her generation who writes it down."
"Review" by , "Few of the stories in The View From Castle Rock work as fully realized fictions, and the whole fails to cohere despite the presence of an unnamed narrator meant to link them."
"Review" by , "These are Alice Munro's most personal stories. We should be grateful, for they give us a privileged portrait of a brilliant artist."
"Synopsis" by , In stories that are more personal than any that she's written before, Munro pieces her family's history into gloriously imagined fiction. Evocative, gripping, sexy, unexpected — these stories reflect a depth and richness of experience.
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