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Too Much Happinessby Alice Munro
"Munro has spent 41 years escorting us through her rooms, through the fertile house of her imagination — 'Your body ages,' she said in an interview with The (London) Observer, 'but your mind is the same' — directing us to her windows, pointing out the world view beyond." Ellen Urbani, The Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review)
"As always, Munro demonstrates an extraordinary ability to inhabit the minds of characters who bear little surface resemblance to her, and she is also far more at ease than most contemporary writers with a wide range of social classes." Brooke Allen, The Barnes and Noble Review (read the entire Barnes and Noble review)
Synopses & Reviews
Ten superb new stories by one of our most beloved and admired writers — the winner of the 2009 Man Booker International Prize.
In the first story a young wife and mother receives release from the unbearable pain of losing her three children from a most surprising source. In another, a young woman, in the aftermath of an unusual and humiliating seduction, reacts in a clever if less-than-admirable fashion. Other stories uncover the deep holes in a marriage, the unsuspected cruelty of children, and how a boy's disfigured face provides both the good things in his life and the bad. And in the long title story, we accompany Sophia Kovalevsky — a late-nineteenth-century Russian emigre and mathematician — on a winter journey that takes her from the Riviera, where she visits her lover, to Paris, Germany, and, Denmark, where she has a fateful meeting with a local doctor, and finally to Sweden, where she teaches at the only university in Europe willing to employ a female mathematician.
With clarity and ease, Alice Munro once again renders complex, difficult events and emotions into stories that shed light on the unpredictable ways in which men and women accommodate and often transcend what happens in their lives.
Too Much Happiness is a compelling, provocative — even daring — collection.
"Munro's latest collection is satisfyingly true to form and demonstrates why she continues to garner laurels (such as this year's Man Booker International Prize). Through carefully crafted situations, Munro breathes arresting life into her characters, their relationships and their traumas. In 'Wenlock Edge,' a college student in London, Ontario, acquires a curious roommate in Nina, who tricks the narrator into a revealing dinner date with Nina's paramour, the significantly older Mr. Purvis. 'Child's Play,' a dark story about children's capacity for cruelty and the longevity of their secrets, introduces two summer camp friends, Marlene and Charlene, who form a pact against the slightly disturbing Verna, whose family used to share Marlene's duplex. The title, and final, story, the collection's longest and most ambitious, takes the reader to 19th-century Europe to meet Sophia Kovalevski, a talented mathematician and novelist who grapples with the politics of the age and the consequences of success. While this story lacks some of the effortlessness found in Munro's finest work, the collection delivers what she's renowned for: poignancy, flesh and blood characters and a style nothing short of elegant." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"10 masterly stories...A remarkable new book." Troy Jollimore, Los Angeles Times
"Filled with subtle and far-reaching thematic reverberations....[Munro has] an empathy so pitch-perfect....You [are] drawn deftly into another world." The New York Times Book Review
"Profound and beautiful." Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine
"Alice Munro has done it again....[She] keeps getting better....Her brush strokes are fine, her vision encompasses humanity from its most generous to its most corrupt, and the effect is nothing short of masterful." The San Francisco Chronicle
"Richly detailed and dense with psychological observation....Munro exhibit[s] a remarkable gift for transforming the seemingly artless into art....[She] concentrate[s] upon provincial, even backcountry lives, in tales of domestic tragicomedy that seem to open up, as if by magic, into wider, deeper, vaster dimensions." Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books
"A perfect 10....With this collection of surprising short stories, Munro once again displays the fertility of her imagination and her craftsmanship as a writer." USA Today
"Masterly....[A] remarkable new book." The Los Angeles Times
"Daring and unpredictable....Reading Munro is an intensely personal experience. Her focus is so clear and her style so precise....Each [story is] dramatically and subtly different." The Miami Herald
"A brand-new collection of short stories from Alice Munro — winner of a Man Booker Prize — is always cause for celebration, and Too Much Happiness doesn't disappoint. It dazzles. The 10 spare, lovely tales are...brimming with emotion and memorable characters....Munro's are stories that linger long after you turn the last page." Entertainment Weekly
"Finely, even ingeniously, crafted....Deliver[ed] with instinctive acuity." The Seattle Times
"Rich....Truthful, in the deepest sense of the word....Reading an Alice Munro short story is like sinking into a reverie. She expertly captures the shadings and byways of associative thought....[Munro] will surely be remembered as the writer who took the short story to the depth of what short fiction can plumb." The Kansas City Star
"Rich and satisfying....A commanding collection and one of her strongest....Short fiction of this caliber should be on everyone's reading list. Munro's stories are accessible; she simply writes about life....Honest, intuitive storytelling that gives the short story a good name." Chicago Sun-Times
"[Munro is] universally acknowledged as one of the greatest short-story writers of our time....[Her] work [is] at such a high level....These stories are extraordinary, ample with the shrewdness and empathy that we have come to take for granted in Munro....Her most distinguishing characteristic as a writer is...her extraordinary intimacy with her characters." The New Republic
"Coherent and compelling....Munro manages to turn the sentimental into the existential." The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Stunning....An unexpected gift....Here we have 10 perfectly honed pieces, each a study of the human psyche in hard-to-imagine circumstances that Munro presents, seemingly effortlessly, in an economy of words and sentences." The Buffalo News
"As always in her distinctive stories, Alice Murno's style is vivid, her attention tireless, her curiosity omnivorous, and her sentences drawn from the freshest of springs." The Washington Post
"Few writers can match the clarity and immediacy of Munro's descriptions whether she is portraying a subsiding marriage, a treacherous childhood, or the erotic and intellectual sojourn of a 19th century Russian mathematician." The Boston Globe
"I sit still for Alice Munro's expository passages every time. She lays down such seemingly ordinary but useful sentences, one after another after another....I stay to marvel....Is there anyone writing short fiction today in English who has more authority?" Alan Cheuse, NPR
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 Book 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, the Paris Review, 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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