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Dear Life: Stories

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  17,248 ratings  ·  2,430 reviews
With her peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but spacious and timeless stories, Alice Munro illumines the moment a life is shaped -- the moment a dream, or sex, or perhaps a simple twist of fate turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into another way of being. Suffused with Munro's clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for s ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 13th 2012 by Douglas Gibson Books (first published January 1st 1995)
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I had never read any Alice Munro, and I find it's difficult to say anything sensible about her. Obviously, the stories are very good. (She just won the Nobel Prize. Duh). But what's most impressive is that she doesn't seem to be doing anything in particular. With some writers, it's easy to understand why they're so highly regarded. Take Vladimir Nabokov. I look at his brilliantly constructed sentences, his cleverly ambiguous allusions, his breathtakingly unexpected metaphors, and I sigh: ah, I w ...more
I’m always careful not to fall victim to popular opinion when reading any book, especially one by such an acclaimed and beloved writer as Alice Munro. I tried to forget the fact that Munro had only recently won the Nobel prize for fiction. This is only my second Munro so maybe I’m not the best judge of her work but I did find this collection very enjoyable.

I find that with Munro it’s the little details. Her stories are everyday stories of everyday people living mainly in small-town Canada, peopl


It is reassuring to see that the Nobel Prize for literature went recently to someone who writes so clearly and so unpretentiously.

I am not much of a reader of short stories. Shifting from one to the next is always anticlimactic. And often their being grouped in one particular volume is also contrived. This is the case with this collectioin. Most of these stories were first published at different dates in various literary magazines (Granta, Harper’s, Tin House...).

The settings are v
Susan Tekulve
As with all of Alice Munro's books, I rushed out to buy this newest collection, and then I rushed home, eager to plunge into it. I am an ardent fan of Alice Munro's work, and I think this collection is good, better than good. The most breathtaking, full and energetic of the short stories in this collection is "Amundsen." It takes place in a TB sanatarium near a remote town in Northern Canada. The story is about a young woman who takes a job teaching the children in the sanatarium and, eventually ...more
alice munro - great contemporary writer and bigtime oxymoron* - has a new collection coming out nov 13, just 3 days after i'm to be married. which is great as i'm expecting to be all reflective and nostalgic but also forward-looking and hopeful, a mishmash of sentiment and emotion and whatnot; which works out as nobody conjures up all that conflicting crap better than munro.

so, a few days after the wedding, we head down to del mar and, our first night walking the main drag of the tiny seaside t

Dear Alice,

What a good investment you've turned out to be.
A little girl growing up in rural Canada in the early twentieth century, far from the turmoil experienced by your contemporaries in Europe, you nevertheless created several lifetimes’ worth of unique stories from the limited resources you were given.
I watched while you observed every detail of your rural existence, filing away images and experiences for future use like some Canadian Picasso accumulating a studio full of junk which one f
I'm a writer myself, and within the last two years or so have begun to concentrate a bit more on writing short fiction.

To write is to read, as they say, and I have made an effort to read more short fiction. Many people, from members of my writing group, to lecturers I've listened to, to writers of articles on the subject I have read have advised the same thing; read Alice Munro.

"Perfect. Masterful. Genius. Epitome of what a short story should be today." All of these are accolades heaped upon Mun
Dear Life: “One day he just got the idea that he could do the acting and not go through all that church stuff. He tried to be polite about it, but they said it was the Devil getting hold. He said ha-ha I know who it was getting hold. Bye-bye.” Greta should have known that he could have possibly been a bye-bye kind of guy, yet she risked her young one and marriage, in order to kiss and fondle this stranger. Loneliness, this inevitable part of our waking, breathing moments you’ve given us.

Dear Lif
This is Alice Munro's most recent collection of short stories. Despite the advanced years of this grande dame of Canadian literature, her narrative powers have lost none of their sharpness. This offering has a family resemblance to other works of hers which I have read in the past. The setting is often a small Canadian town where life is very humdrum and ordinary. In this environment, shocking. tragic, bittersweet and sometimes humorous events can arise. They are chronicled with a detached, ofte ...more
Jan Priddy
I am a great fan of Munro and wrote my critical essay in grad school mostly about one of her stories. She breaks rules, I believe intentionally and intelligently, and to a purpose. Her earliest stories are simply good, but then over time, as her reputation grew, she could do whatever she liked. And she did. I admire what writers do once they can afford to entirely please themselves. "The final four works in this book are not quite stories . . . things I have to say about my own life" including t ...more
Dear Ms Munro,
We often visited Nana and Grandpa’s in Kincardine while we were growing up in London in the early 70s. They had a rich supply of Readers Digest, crossword puzzle books, and National Geographics. I’d catch up on all that new reading, then retreat to my own books that I’d brought along. I was quite happy to sit on the couch for hours and read, while absorbing the family reunion vibe around me. They would gently tease me every time, “There she is with her nose in a book again.” They h
Nidhi Singh
Something that happens in most of Alice Munro’s stories is one of the many desired things that almost never happen to me. Those chance meetings that lead to moments of epiphany, those transformative experiences. I always thought I would also have one of those at some turn of the road. Or a forgotten someone would call out my name in a crowd. Or a certain name, a voice, would spark the memories a bygone past. Something that would lead to a retelling of life’s tales. And such difference that would ...more
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Absolutely no one
Recommended to Carmen by: Book Club
Story 1: To Reach Japan
A story about a woman who's determined to have an affair.

Now, I don't condone affairs. But sometimes I can understand them, e.g. Addicted by Zane. But here, no reason is given for Greta cheating. And it doesn't seem to matter who she's cheating with: any available and interested man will do. So it's not “love” affairs she's having.

My educated guess about why Greta is cheating on her husband is that she's bored. She's a poet who works from home and she has a small child.

Where do I begin? My second Munro and I feel that familiar sensation, like feeling for the barely palpable edge of the sticky tape on the roll, a way in, when everything feels like the centre, a cycle that's encircled me, that I've had with me for so long I can't imagine either end.

It's not as if the stories are all the same or blur into each other - far from it in fact! The mood and mode of each is so crisply distinct I can imagine Munro writing in an organised study, selecting from the options

3 "extremely memorable" stars.

I am writing this at 245 a.m. and we are at our cottage on Lake Huron and it was my favorite kind of day and evening and night and the spirit of Alice Munro was everywhere today. My partner spent a small time in his childhood in the town of Wingham Ontario (this is where Alice Munro grew up)and we had dinner there with his sister who lives very close to Clinton Ontario where Alice Munro currently lives. They are both ardent fans and I relished their discussion as th
This was my introduction to Munro's short stories. I read them one at a time and savoured each one. I really enjoyed these extraordinary stories. Some of these stories just breathe life. Ordinary life can sometimes be so special! I won't easily pass up a chance to read more stories by Alice Munro.

(Book abandoned on page 133, after story 5.)

There's something to be said for a quiet story, the kind that unfolds languidly, that is open-ended. This is true of Munro's short stories. On the flip side, this kind of story can lack dramatic punch, fail to elicit any strong emotion in the reader, and seem pointless. This also is true of Munro's stories. Each of Dear Life's roughly 20- to 25-page-long stories centers around a female protagonist who experiences a sudden revelatory mo
Jonathan Peto
Warning: Depressing but true to life, which is even more depressing. Do not read this if you are having any doubts about staying in this world. On another note, these stories may remind you why you left small towns for the big city. They include beautiful landscapes peopled with cruelty and indifference. The few times characters venture into cities the beautiful landscapes fall away but the bleakness remains.

One characteristic of this collection that I really enjoyed was how elements of the stor
Mar 17, 2013 Elaine rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Many years ago, when I was in college, Alice Munro came to campus to do what was called a Master's Tea, a talk to a very small audience with an opportunity for conversation and questions after. I was in a phase where I was going to a lot of talks, and even though I hadn't read a word she'd written, I signed up. I was somewhat disappointed when she proceeded to read a short story (no memories of which one), and then talk gently and encouragingly about the craft of writing short fiction. I was at ...more
This isn't the type of book I would normally be compelled to read. If you're not familiar with Alice Munro's work (as I wasn't) the official blurb doesn't really give much of an idea as to what it's about. There's a reason for that, the short stories contained within Dear Life are hard to describe in any significant way even after you've read them.

The stories are steeped in melancholy and the quiet frustrations of ordinary existence. Not necessarily sad stories so much as stories that aren't al
Mitch Duckworth
By way of disclosure, I am a devoted fan of Alice Munro . . . My critical thinking is dubious at best when attempting analysis of her work, nearly half of the fourteen stories in Dear Life are minor masterpieces, and of those, perhaps half—conservatively, three or four stories—may rival the best work she’s ever done. Not excelling in the fine art of literary criticism, I cannot even pretend to know. The only thing of importance to me is how I feel when I turn the last page. It’s something like s ...more
There are a lot of good things coming from Alice Munro winning the Nobel Price this year. First of all, she deserves it like there is no tomorrow. Secondly, more people than ever before are reading, or having a first taste, of short fiction. But also, it made ‘Dear Life’ the moderator pick in one of the book groups I participate in and we’ve had some brilliant discussions about every one of these stories, making the whole experience even better.

This collection features some fabulous stories, and
I can give this collection all the accolades I’ve given to the other collections I’ve read by Munro. As I said of The View from Castle Rock: Many of the stories are as good as anything I've read by her, though some of the ones here are even better. As I said of Too Much Happiness: ... some of these I'd read before and it was a pleasure to read them again ... This pleasure ... comes not from her characters or her plots ...but from the themes ..., some of which need to be teased out. And as I said ...more
So, short stories: generally not a fan. I have all sorts of insecurities about this, like my dislike of poetry - I feel like there's always something I'm not QUITE getting (Ethan Canin's The Palace Thief, as I have said a gazillion times, is the one book of short stories I really liked - and they're not really that short).

But Alice Munro is an important writer, and because of a class on international political systems I took in college, as well as a book I once read about Celine Dion, I have a l
This is the second collection of Munro's short stories I've read.

It will also be my last.

Munro is famous for having a detached writing style. Her style may win awards, but it bored me to tears. It's as if the author herself was not even interested in what her characters were doing. She failed to make me care about any of these people and as a result, the stories were not memorable.

The only one of these tales that stuck in my mind is the first tale, To Reach Japan which involved a married woman
Every time I think that Alice Munro simply can’t get any better, her next short story collection comes out and she astounds me all over again.

This is a writer who possesses “the gift”…the gift to make each of her characters pulsate with life. There are only two kinds of short stories here: the extremely good ones and the excellent ones.

Most of these are set in Munro’s native home in Ontario and are filled with perceptive young women who are at the cusp of a life’s transition. One of the best, fo
Larry Bassett
Alice Munro: Winner of Nobel Prize in literature

This book was published when the author was in her 80s. This Canadian writer is a recent and enjoyable discovery for me. Her stories have a pleasant quirkiness that often capture the wonderment of children and idiosyncrasies of adults.

I was immersed in her story of the elderly woman concerned about her forgetfulness who travels by car to a nearby small town to visit a doctor only to realize that the trip is being imagined by a terrified woman in an
This is my first experience reading Alice Munro and I get it. This lady can write. I enjoyed the first two stories of the collection best. I often struggle with short stories in general and worked hard to stay with this collection- especially with the stories that did not resonate. I look forward to reading her earlier work.
Jennifer (aka EM)
Bittersweet to read this and think AM may not be writing anything else. A little more erratic than some of her other short story collections, especially in the first four stories, but the final section - autobiographical but not stories so much (as she says) - was a capping-off poignancy that really worked.
I'm sometimes asked about my favorite writers and answer citing too many to make much of an impression--either about my taste or the writers themselves. One writer who always makes my lists, however, is Alice Munro. If that sparks any interest, and I'm asked what I like about her, I say that she writes short stories with the qualities of novels, possesses an almost perfect, meditative narrative style, and surfaces the weird from the mundane without ever losing her dignity or judgment

Quite a mout
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2015: The Year of...: Dear Life: Stories 98 94 Feb 07, 2015 08:10AM  
21st Century Lite...: 12/13 Dear Life - Haven 24 59 Jan 23, 2015 09:52AM  
21st Century Lite...: 12/13 Dear Life - collection as a whole 27 81 Jan 13, 2015 08:04AM  
21st Century Lite...: 12/13 Dear Life - Pride 26 60 Nov 09, 2014 03:47PM  
Alice Munro Nobel Prize 4 51 Jul 23, 2014 09:59AM  
21st Century Lite...: 12/13 Dear Life - To Reach Japan 54 134 Jun 21, 2014 12:32PM  
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Alice Ann Munro, née Laidlaw, is a Canadian short-story writer who is widely considered one of the world's premier fiction writers. Munro is a three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction. Her stories focus on human relationships looked at through the lens of daily life. She has thus been referred to as "the Canadian Chekhov."

She is the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Liter
More about Alice Munro...
Runaway Too Much Happiness Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories Lives of Girls and Women Selected Stories, 1968-1994

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“We say of some things that they can't be forgiven, or that we will never forgive ourselves. But we do-we do it all the time.” 80 likes
“The thing is to be happy,' he said. 'No matter what. Just try that. You can. It gets to be easier and easier. It's nothing to do with circumstances. You wouldn't believe how good it is. Accept everything and then tragedy disappears. Or tragedy lightens, anyway, you're just there, going along easy in the world.” 74 likes
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