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The View from Castle Rock: Storiesby Alice Munro
"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
Alice Munro mines her rich family background, melding it with her own experiences and the transforming power of her brilliant imagination, to create perhaps her most powerful and personal collection yet.
A young boy, taken to Edinburgh's Castle Rock to look across the sea to America, catches a glimpse of his father's dream. Scottish immigrants experience love and loss on a journey that leads them to rural Ontario. Wives, mothers, fathers, and children move through uncertainty, ambivalence, and contemplation in these stories of hopes, adversity, and wonder. The View from Castle Rock reveals what is most essential in Munro's art: her compassionate understanding of ordinary lives.
"[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.)
"Revelatory....A work of aching authenticity." The Boston Globe
"Masterful....Munro really does know magic: how to summon the spirits and the emotions that animate our lives." The Washington Post Book World
"Fascinating....Munro's powers are at their peak....She continues to charge forward, shining a light on what is most fearsome and true." Chicago Tribune
"Exhilarating....[Munro's] ability to travel into the minds and feelings of people long dead is uncanny." The New York Times Book 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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"The View from Castle Rock is a sad and beautifully written book." BookPage
From the award-winning and bestselling author of Runaway comes a new book of short stories that is "as transporting as anything shes ever written" (New York Times).
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
Part One / No Advantages
The View from Castle Rock
The Wilds of Morris Township
Working for a Living
Part Two / Home
Lying Under the Apple Tree
What Do You Want to Know For?
What Our Readers Are Saying
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