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Dear Life by Alice Munro

Dear Life (2012)

by Alice Munro

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1,550684,734 (3.86)130
  1. 00
    A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both books focus on ordinary lives and families with a strong sense of place. Both are written by a master at the top of her game.
  2. 00
    The American Lover by Rose Tremain (BookshelfMonstrosity)

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Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
I remember the first story mostly, To Reach Japan. One of the best short stories I've ever read. She could turn it into a novel, but she didn't. Sad for me.

The latter stories somehow skipped my mind. This happens when you suddenly remember a story and then try to write a review of the book you read about a year or two ago. ( )
  akazuba | Aug 2, 2017 |
Sold, well-crafted, with evocative mood and tone, but not a single story moved me with an eagerness to turn the page. ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
The fourteen stories in this brilliant collection show Alice Munro coming home to southwestern Ontario, with Toronto looming on the horizon. Even “To Reach Japan,” where a Vancouver mother takes her young daughter across the country by train, ends in Toronto. On that journey, different kinds of passion produce surprises, both on the journey and at its end.
The range of storytellers is astonishing, as we hear the young voices of women recalling their teenage years and the equally convincing voice of an old woman fighting Alzheimer’s. Margaret Atwood once shrewdly noted that “pushing the sexual boundaries is distinctly thrilling for many a Munro woman,” and very few of these stories deal with men and women in sedate, conventional domestic settings.

Munro admirers will see that these stories are shorter than many in her recent col­lections, but they have all the sharpness, accessibility, and power of her earlier work, and they are—as always—full of “real” people. The final four works (“not quite stories”) bring the author home, literally. She writes: “I believe they are the first and last—and the closest—things I have to say about my own life.” ( )
  heritagebook | Dec 26, 2016 |
For me, it was just ok. Maybe because the short stories didn't grab me immediately and it was hard to get into them in that short of a period, I'm not sure. She did have beautiful details and ideas, and I never doubted the creativity of the work. ( )
  dmbkel41 | Dec 7, 2016 |
Just OK. ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
Munro's stories are full of smart young women wryly observing men's desire for dominance and other women's collusion with their own subservience. In "Dolly", the narrator observes of a love rival, "men are charmed by stubborn quirks if the girl is good-looking enough… all that delight in the infantile female brain."

But it would be wrong to think of Munro as a chronicler of the particular disappointments of being female: she draws men just as well. There is a heartbreaking portrayal of a widowed policeman in "Leaving Maverley". Despite the inevitable end of his wife's lengthy and terminal illness, he realises as he leaves the hospital: 'He'd thought that it had happened long before with Isabel, but it hadn't. Not until now. She had existed and now she did not… And before long, he found himself outside, pretending that he had as ordinary and good a reason as anybody else to put one foot ahead of the other."

There is an interesting diversion at the end of this book: the final four stories are, in Munro's own words, "not quite stories… the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life." A less well-known writer would not be allowed to lift her hands and say, "Look, there are some bits here, and I'm not sure what they are, but there you go," but they are delightful additions to this collection. Plainer, with a slightly more bitter edge, than the "fictional" stories that precede them, they are a tantalising glimpse of the memoir Munro fans would swoon for, should she choose to write it. The first indeed – but let's hope she changes her mind and makes them not the last.
added by VivienneR | editThe Guardian, Louise Doughty (Nov 25, 2012)
After the first 10 short stories in her new collection, Alice Munro inserts a single paragraph on an otherwise blank page, under the heading, Finale: “The final four works in this book are not quite stories. They form a separate unit, one that is autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact. I believe they are the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life.”

“Dear Life” describes the house Munro lived in when she was growing-up in Wingham, Ontario, where her mother was a schoolteacher and her father a fur and poultry farmer. “This is not a story, only life,” she notes, signalling the pathways, names, coincidences that might have been woven into her fiction, but here are present as memories.

“The Eye” is the most majestic of Munro’s monuments to memory. She remembers being taken, the year she started school, to see the dead body of a young woman whom her mother had hired to help after the birth of Munro’s younger siblings. Encouraged to look into the coffin, she thought she saw the young woman slightly open one eye: a private signal to her alone. “Good for you,” her mother said, as they left the grieving household.
It is fascinating to compare this with the end of the story “Amundsen” earlier in the collection. Two people who were lovers long ago meet unexpectedly crossing a Toronto street.
The man opens one of his eyes slightly wider than the other and asks, “How are you?” “Happy,” she says. “Good for you,” he replies.
In this book, Munro has laid bare the foundations of her fiction as never before. Lovers of her writing must hope this is not, in fact, her finale. But if it is, it’s spectacular.
added by VivienneR | editThe Telegraph, Ruth Scurr (Nov 21, 2012)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307596885, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2012: You half expect a new collection of stories by the beloved Alice Munro to arrive already devoured: pages dog-eared (“I feel exactly the same way! How did she know?”), spine cracked, cover bent from the dozens of times each story deserves to be read. The best thing to say about Alice Munro is said so often, it doesn’t mean much anymore. But here it is for the record: She is a master of her craft. In Dear Life, her 13th collection, Munro again breathes life--real, blemished, nuanced life--into her characters and settings (usually her hometown in Huron County, Ontario). Her empathy is the greatest weapon in her arsenal, and it is on full display here. But the most satisfying part of the new collection is the last four stories, bundled together in what the author calls “Finale,” the closest she’ll ever come to writing about her own dear life. --Alexandra Foster

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:15 -0400)

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A collection of stories illuminates moments that shape a life, from a dream or a sexual act to simple twists of fate, and is set in the countryside and towns of Lake Huron.

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