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Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

Too Much Happiness: Stories

A review by Brooke Allen

The novelist Benjamin Cheever once brilliantly summed up New Yorker fiction as the kind of story where nothing much happens, but you feel a little sad about it anyway. Alice Munro's wonderful short stories (12 volumes of them so far), many of them originally published in The New Yorker, can mostly be said to fall into this category. But in old age she seems to be moving in a new direction, for things do happen in the ten tales that make up her latest collection, Too Much Happiness: lots of things, sometimes violent things. The tone is set in the very first story, "Dimensions," a disturbing look into the mind of a young woman to whom unspeakable damage has been done.

We first encounter Doree as she rides the bus to prison to visit her husband. She is a motel chambermaid: "She liked the work -- it occupied her thoughts to a certain extent and tired her out so that she could sleep at night." Why does she wish to have her thoughts occupied? What images does she wish to banish from them?...




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