EdwardHakim, December 24, 2012 (view all comments by EdwardHakim)
Only occasionally do I read short stories, and when I do, they are invariably of the mystery or suspense genre, usually with a 'twist' in the ending. I had of course heard of Alice Munro, but I didn't really know much about her writing. I knew that the stories in this book would be different from what I was used to, but I was not prepared for how very much I enjoyed them.
Lani Lee, December 17, 2012 (view all comments by Lani Lee)
Of course every Munro collection is wonderful (her fans are legion for a reason!), but this is the first collection since Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage that I have devoured so greedily, I hardly paused over her tricks of prose, anxious to see where she was going to take me and what was going to happen. Anyone who is already a fan of Munro will be reminded of some of her earlier work (in particular, I was reminded of Open Secrets in tone and length and narrative gymnastics). This is also a wonderful collection for someone new to Munro, since the shorter stories aren't as daunting (though once you're a fan, you could read a one hundred page "short story" by her and not balk). A special treat is the "Finale" section, wherein Munro reveals a bit of her own story. Of course, she doesn't tell us which parts of the stories are fact and which are fiction, but the elements of her fiction are there, showing a bit of insight into her inspiration. READ THIS BOOK!
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"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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