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Dear Life: Storiesby Alice Munro
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Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction
A Best Book of the Year: The Atlantic, NPR, Vogue, AV Club
A brilliant new collection of stories from one of the most acclaimed and beloved writers of our time.
Alice Munro’s peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but always spacious and timeless stories is once again everywhere apparent in this brilliant new collection. In story after story, she illumines the moment a life is forever altered by a chance encounter or an action not taken, or by a simple twist of fate that turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into a new way of being or thinking. A poet, finding herself in alien territory at her first literary party, is rescued by a seasoned newspaper columnist, and is soon hurtling across the continent, young child in tow, toward a hoped-for but completely unplanned meeting. A young soldier, returning to his fiancée from the Second World War, steps off the train before his stop and onto the farm of another woman, beginning a life on the move. A wealthy young woman having an affair with the married lawyer hired by her father to handle his estate comes up with a surprising way to deal with the blackmailer who finds them out.
While most of these stories take place in Munro’s home territory — the small Canadian towns around Lake Huron — the characters sometimes venture to the cities, and the book ends with four pieces set in the area where she grew up, and in the time of her own childhood: stories “autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact.” A girl who can’t sleep imagines night after wakeful night that she kills her beloved younger sister. A mother snatches up her child and runs for dear life when a crazy woman comes into her yard.
Suffused with Munro’s clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these tales about departures and beginnings, accidents and dangers, and outgoings and homecomings both imagined and real, paint a radiant, indelible portrait of how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be.
"It's no surprise that every story in the latest collection by Canada's Munro is rewarding and that the best are stunning. They leave the reader wondering how the writer manages to invoke the deepest, most difficult truths of human existence in the most plainspoken language....The author knows what matters, and the stories pay attention to it." Kirkus, starred review
"Unreserved praise for the continued wonderment provided by arguably the best short-story writer in English today....On whatever level of reader familiarity Munro is working, in every story she finds new ways to make the lives of ordinary people compelling." Booklist, starred review
"With her penetrating new collection, Alice Munro demonstrates once again why she deserves her reputation as a master of short fiction....'This is not a story, only life,' declares the protagonist of the title narrative. With the subtlety and complexity of Munro's writing, it's hard to tell the difference." Pamela Newtown, O Magazine
“One of the great short story writers not just of our time but of any time.” The New York Times Books Review
“Wise and unforgettable. Dear Life is a wondrous gift; a reminder of why Munro’s work endures.” The Boston Globe
“Unquestionable evidence of her unfaded abilities....Reading these stories will tell you something about Alice Munro’s life, but it will tell you more about Alice Munro’s mind — and, not entirely surprisingly, this proves to be even more compelling.” The New Republic
“Alice Munro is not only revered, she is cherished....Dear Life is as rich and astonishing as anything she has done before.” The New York Review of Books
“There is no writer quite as good at illustrating the foibles of love, the confusions and frustrations of life or the inner cruelty and treachery that can be revealed in the slightest gestures and changes of tone....The stories of Dear Life violate a host of creative writing rules, but they establish yet again Munro’s psychological acuity, clear-eyed acceptance of frailties and mastery of the short story form.” The Washington Post
“Exquisite....No other author can tell quite so much with quite so little. The modest surfaces of Munro’s lapidary sentences conceal rich veins of ore.” Chicago Tribune
“Munro’s wonderfully frank and compassionate stories suggest that perseverance, the determination to keep at the work of living, can invest a life with dignity through the end of one’s days.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Absorbing....Most haunting of all are the four autobiographical sketches that end the book, which display Munro’s gift of observation and ability to trace big emotional arcs in short brushstrokes.” Entertainment Weekly
“Alice Munro has long been acknowledged as one of Canada’s literary treasures. This new volume, with its historical slant, its autobiographical material, its impressionistic descriptions of scenery, its occasional nostalgia and pleasing irony, confirms her reputation.” The Washington Times
“How does Munro manage such great effects on a relatively small canvas? It’s a question that most anyone who has seriously attempted to write a short story in the last 20 years has pondered....Munro has a genius, no empty word here, for selecting details that keep unfolding in the reader’s mind.” Los Angeles Times
“Reading Alice Munro is like drinking water — one hardly notices the words, only the marvel at being quenched....Behind each sentence is a world, conjured more distinctly than in many an entire novel.” The Plain Dealer
About the Author
Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has published twelve collections of stories and two volumes of selected stories, as well as a novel. 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 Literary Award, the United States’ National Book Critics Circle Award, the Edward MacDowell Medal in literature, and the Man Booker International Prize. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Magazine, Granta, and other publications, and her collections have been translated into thirteen languages. Alice Munro lives in Clinton, Ontario, near Lake Huron.
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