nightpatrol, October 25, 2014 (view all comments by nightpatrol)
Alice Munro can say so much in so little space. Her visually stunning words create poignant stories which have the ability to resonate with our own memories and lives, all in stories of a mere 20-25 pages. If you haven't read Munro, this collection is a good place to start. This may seem odd, because this is Munro's most recent body of work (2012) and may very well be her last (though we all hope otherwise). Over the years, her strength as a writer has not wavered. These later pieces contain all the beauty and poise of her earlier work, but they also carry with them all of the wisdom she has gained throughout her life. Dear Life is a lovely introduction to Munro. It would be enjoyable to begin with this collection and to work your way backwards, ensuring you do not miss staples like The Moons of Jupiter and Lives of Girls and Women.
writermala, June 13, 2013 (view all comments by writermala)
It's been a while since I enjoyed a book of short stories as much as I did this one. To read in such picturesque words about events and times in the not so distant past is indeed a treat and Munro has done justice to the times in a remarkable way. Indeed in this collection of short stories, Munro has packed so much detail that I may never read a novel again!
dmm, January 19, 2013 (view all comments by dmm)
I had read some of these stories in the New Yorker, but it was very good to read the whole volume's stories together for their cumulative significance and impact. Munro introduces the last four pieces in the book by saying that they are "the first and last--and the closest--things [she has] to say about [her] own life." I find that they, in addition, have a great deal to say to me about my own life and the human condition. This book touches me.
SF Bay Reader, January 3, 2013 (view all comments by SF Bay Reader)
Like an ace of an oyster shucker, Alice Munro has opened up another great set of stories. She has a wise and eloquent voice. To read her stories is to open yourself up to advice as if from a close friend -- aha, a pearl. She is as dangerously witty as she is sensitive -- reminding us at once to be raw in our true selves AND to laugh at life. We are blessed that she keeps them coming!
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Joan Didion once said 'I didn't want to see life reduced to a short story... I wanted to see life expanded to a novel.' Didion had her own purposes, but Munro readers know that the dichotomy between expansive novel and compressed short story doesn't hold in her work. Munro (Too Much Happiness) can depict key moments without obscuring the reality of a life filled with countless other moments — told or untold. In her 13th collection, she continues charting the shifts in norms that occur as WWII ends, the horses kept for emergencies go out of use, small towns are less isolated, and then gradually or suddenly, nothing is quite the same. There are no clunkers here, and especially strong stories include 'Train,' 'To Reach Japan,' 'Haven,' and 'Corrie.' And for the first time, Munro writes about her childhood, in the collection's final four pieces, which she describes as 'not quite stories.... I believe they are the first and last — and the closest — things I have to say about my own life.' These feature the precision of her fiction with the added interest of revealing the development of Munro's eye and her distance from her surroundings, both key, one suspects, in making her the writer she is. While many of these pieces appeared in the New Yorker, they read differently here; not only has Munro made changes, but more importantly, read together, the stories accrete, deepen, and speak to each other." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by Kirkus, starred review,
"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."
by Booklist, 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."
by Pamela Newtown, O Magazine,
"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."
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.
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