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Too Much Happiness: Stories by Alice Munro

Too Much Happiness: Stories (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Alice Munro

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1,498764,946 (3.83)163
Title:Too Much Happiness: Stories
Authors:Alice Munro
Info:Knopf (2009), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:2009-2010 Additions

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Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro (2009)


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English (59)  Spanish (7)  Finnish (3)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (2)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  All (75)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
I'd read at least one of these stories in a magazine before, so I knew some of what to expect. Munro's stories aren't exactly conventional; they tend to cover much broader ranges of time than traditional short stories. Many of the stories in this collection, in fact, are about the way that life gets away from us in the passage of time. Some of the stories take rather grotesque, shocking turns (as in "Child's Play"), but for the most part, these are stories about ordinary people whose lives are transformed by maybe one extraordinary experience of love or betrayal or transgression. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Alice Munro is a marvel. She focuses in on very specific subject matter (though she pushes those boundaries more in this collection than any other I have read, especially in the title story). Yet with all the similarities in her work, every story surprises me, and leaves me feeling off kilter. I think its the way she frames stories. Her narratives start at moments that seem like the middle of a story and make you wonder what came before, and then the stories end somewhere utterly different from where you expect them to end. It leaves you feeling like you missed something before and after, and yet each story is absolutely complete. I do not know how she does this, but she always does. I crave that off-kilter feeling. There is a beauty in the way she manages to make you see things from uncomfortable perspectives which implies a mastery of language. Munro brings language to heel and makes it do what she wants to it to do, but her language is not expansive or beautiful. Her language is plain, sometimes rather ugly, sometimes positively vulgar. Yet there are no more perfect words for what she is saying.

Bottom line, another perfect collection, though for me the greatest among equals was Wenlock Edge, which is odd and creepy and speaks exquisitely to the ways in which women accept the unacceptable, repress our honest reactions, take the blame for wrongs visited upon us, and lower our standards to recast situations to make even the most repulsive things appear as if they are satisfying to us. ( )
  Narshkite | Dec 10, 2016 |
Has Alice Munro written a bad book? I haven't read it yet, if she has. The stories here are all wonderful. The only one that didn't work for me was the closer and title story about Sophia Kovalevski. Was a bit of a departure from her usual sparse style, and the story demanded a bit more detail. The best for me were: Some Women, Fiction, and Wood. Child's Play and Dimensions were also good, if a little more obvious. ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Aug 5, 2016 |
A collection of Munro's stories where we are able to meet people who seem real and through her words, have a glimpse into their hearts and minds.
  MerrittGibsonLibrary | Jun 30, 2016 |
I started this book shortly after my husband died, because something about the misfortune implied by the phrase "too much happiness" struck a chord with me as I struggled with the feeling that perhaps I had been too happy, really, for it to be a sustainable happiness. I couldn't help feeling, for a time, that maybe I had inadvertently and indirectly brought about this crushing loss, because it is the natural order of the universe to balance itself, and maybe the proximate cause of my pain had been, well, an excess of happiness.

That may have been too personal a statement for a book review, but now, having finished this book, I am experiencing a faint echo of that feeling I just described. It took me more than a year to slowly finish this book, putting it away whenever the emotion was too much. In the meantime, of course, Ms. Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. But having read that Ms. Munro is not well enough to attend the Nobel ceremony in her honour, I can't help but feel that the universe is being forced to take her away from us to settle a cosmic imbalance of genius that has existed for too long. She's just too talented.

Fittingly, the last story in this collection is based on a true one, of Europe's first female mathematics professor, who in somewhat Alcottian style finds love and freedom but shortly thereafter dies of pneumonia. Hers is the title story; another instance of too much happiness resolved, apparently, by death.

Perhaps that's a more maudlin reading than Munro intended. Still, there's no denying that her stories drip with sentimental genius. Read her, if you haven't yet, and steel yourself for the rush of pleasure that must nevertheless be balanced by the disappointment of reaching the end. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
The Germans must have a term for it. Doppel­gedanken, perhaps: the sensation, when reading, that your own mind is giving birth to the words as they appear on the page. Such is the ego that in these rare instances you wonder, “How could the author have known what I was thinking?” Of course, what has happened isn’t this at all, though it’s no less astonishing. Rather, you’ve been drawn so deftly into another world that you’re breathing with someone else’s rhythms, seeing someone else’s visions as your own.

One of the pleasures of reading Alice Munro derives from her ability to impart this sensation. It’s the sort of gift that requires enormous modesty on the part of the writer, who must shun pyrotechnics for something less flashy: an empathy so pitch-­perfect as to be nearly undetectable. But it’s most arresting in the hands of a writer who isn’t too modest — one possessed of a fearless, at times, fearsome, ambition.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Leah Hager Coen (Nov 27, 2009)
Alice Munro knows women. Yes, she’s a genius with words no matter what the subject, evoking lives rich with secret horrors, but it’s her skill at articulating the nuances of the female experience that makes one gasp with the shock of recognition. This collection, set mostly in classic Munro territory—out-of-the-way places around Ontario—boasts as many of these illuminating moments as her other books.
added by Shortride | editThe Atlantic (Nov 1, 2009)
Munro said in her acceptance speech for the Man Booker International Prize, which she was awarded earlier this year, cementing the wide acclaim she now commands, that she is interested not in happy endings but in “meaning… resonance, some strange beauty on the shimmer of the sea”. This remarkable collection certainly captures that – and more of a sense of happiness than might at first seem possible.

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alice Munroprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boyce, PleukeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Udina, DolorsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zerning, HeidiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Doree had to take three buses - one to Kincardine, where she waited for the one to London, where she waited again for the city bus out to the facility.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307269760, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2009: "She hated to hear the word 'escape' used about fiction. She might have argued, not just playfully, that it was real life that was the escape. But this was too important to argue about." Taken from a story called "Free Radicals," this line may be the best way to think about the lives unfolding in Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness. Real life assaults her central characters rather brutally--in the forms of murder and madness, death, divorce, and all manner of deceptions--but they respond with a poise and clarity of thought that's disarming--sometimes, even nonchalant--when you consider their circumstances. Her women move through life, wearing their scars but not so much wearied by them, profoundly intelligent, but also inordinately tender and thoughtful. There's more fact than fiction to these stories, rich in quiet, precise details that make for a beautiful, bewildering read. --Anne Bartholomew

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:34 -0400)

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Nine new short works include the stories of a grieving mother who is aided by a surprising source, a woman's response to a humiliating seduction, and a nineteenth-century Russian âemigrâe's winter journey to the Riviera.

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