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Runawayby Alice Munro
"Someone writing at this level well into her seventies, outliving the female friends to whose memory the book is dedicated and who must have been part of its inspiration, is a literary inspiration herself....Maybe even more stories are lying in wait. Such first-rate abundance is an astonishment in any lifetime, let alone that of a middle-class mother, and is — to rework Faulkner's quip regarding Keats — worth any number of young daughters. Though, of course, for the writer it is always more complicated than that. For the reader, however, it is a lovely and simple matter of greed and joy." Lorrie Moore, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
Synopses & Reviews
In Alice Munro's superb new collection, we find stories about women of all ages and circumstances, their lives made palpable by the subtlety and empathy of this incomparable writer.
The runaway of the title story is a young woman who, though she thinks she wants to, is incapable of leaving her husband. In "Passion," a country girl emerging into the larger world via a job in a resort hotel discovers in a single moment of stunning insight the limits and lies of that mysterious emotion. Three stories are about a woman named Juliet — in the first, she escapes from teaching at a girls' school into a wild and irresistible love match; in the second she returns with her child to the home of her parents, whose life and marriage she finally begins to examine; and in the last, her child, caught, she mistakenly thinks, in the grip of a religious cult, vanishes into an unexplained and profound silence. In the final story, "Powers," a young woman with the ability to read the future sets off a chain of events that involves her husband-to-be and a friend in a lifelong pursuit of what such a gift really means, and who really has it.
Throughout this compelling collection, Alice Munro's understanding of the people about whom she writes makes them as vivid as our own neighbors. Here are the infinite betrayals and surprises of love — between men and women, between friends, between parents and children — that are the stuff of all our lives. It is Alice Munro's special gift to make these stories as vivid and real as our own.
"Nothing is new in Munro's latest collection, which is to say that the author continues to perfect her virtuosic formula in these eight short stories, several of which previously appeared in the New Yorker. While her style typifies the traditionally realistic, often domestic genre of that magazine, Munro's stories are also global, bighearted and warm. In the title story, a housekeeper tries to leave her emotionally abusive husband, entangling her employer in the process. Three interconnected stories — 'Chance,' 'Soon' and 'Silence' — follow a schoolteacher as she falls for an older man, returns as a young mother to visit her ailing parents on their farm and much later tries to 'rescue' her daughter from a religious cult. In 'Tricks,' a lonely nurse on a day trip encounters a man from Montenegro and vows to return to his clock shop one year later to resume their affair. In deliberate prose, Munro captures their fleeting moment of passion on a train platform: 'This talk felt more and more like an agreed-upon subterfuge, like a conventional screen for what was becoming more inevitable all the time, more necessary, between them.' Munro's characters are hopeful and proud as they face both the betrayals and gestures of kindness that animate their relationships. One never knows quite where a Munro story will end, only that it will leave an incandescent trail of psychological insight. Agent, William Morris. 100,000 first printing. (Nov. 14)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
""Runaway" is the first story in this stunning collection, sure to be a runaway success. All of the eight stories here are new, published in book form for the first time. Two of the eight have never appeared anywhere, so this will be a special feast for the millions of Munro fans around the world.
Miraculously, these stories seem to have been written by a young writer at the peak of her powers. Alice Munro's central characters range from 14-year-old Lauren in "Trespass," through the young couple in "Runaway," whose helpful older neighbour intervenes to help the wife escape, all the way to a 70-year-old woman meeting a friend of her youth on a Vancouver street and sitting with him to recall their tangled lives fifty years earlier, through a web of cheerful lies.
Three of the stories, "Chance," "Soon," and "Silence," are linked, showing us how the young teacher Juliet meets her fisherman lover on a train (and, by terrible chance, visits his B.C. home on the day after his wife's funeral); how, years later, she brings baby Penelope back east to show her parents and learns sad secrets about their marriage; and how, twenty years on, she visits the estranged Penelope in her cult-like B.C. community. The result is more powerful than most novels, a quality in Alice Munro's stories that has been noted by many reviewers.
The final story, "Powers," spans 50 years and runs from Goderich to Vancouver and involves a cast of four characters, each of whom steps forward to dominate the scene, not least Tessa, the plain girl whose psychic powers take her on the vaudeville circuit. But it is Alice Munro's own powers that dominate this collection and that will amaze reviewers and readers. Howcan she keep getting better? How can any one person know so much about the heads and hearts of so many different people? And how can she weave them together in stories that delight academics and ordinary readers alike, making each new Alice Munro book a runaway bestseller?
"From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has published ten previous 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; her Selected Stories; The Love of a Good Woman; and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage — 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 its Giller Prize, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Lannan Literary Award, England's W. H. Smith Book Award, and the United States' National Book Critics Circle Award. 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. Alice Munro and her husband divide their time between Clinton, Ontario, near Lake Huron, and Comox, British Columbia.
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