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Dear Life: Stories

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  13,710 ratings  ·  2,051 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’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...more
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
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...more

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...more
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
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
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...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...more
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.
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...more
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...more
Sep 11, 2014 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.


(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...more
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...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...more
Oct 26, 2012 Cathie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cathie by: Advance Reading Copy from Publisher
Dear Life  Stories by Alice Munro

A wonderful collection of short stories. Poignant tales of love, loss, change. The stories are unsettling, messy, like life. The characters are not perfect but very human in all their flaws, their dreams, their realities.

It was not an easy read. The stories themselves are well written but the characters are complex and messy and left me many times searching for answers that simply are not there. It is like life.

The piece de resistance is the last section of this book called "FINALE". Munro's in...more
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
Sarah Ryburn
These stories are, simply put, vintage Munro. More of the magic for which I adore this writer. She's really one of the two reasons (Alistair Macleod's the other) I've realized a deep and abiding love of the short story genre, and for this I feel a deep and abiding gratitude. I read two yesterday, "Corrie" and "Dolly," about two such different women which nonetheless evoked a singular, profound regard for Munro's craft and wisdom as a writer. Such skill.

One of my favorite stories in this collecti...more
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.
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...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I've read two other volumes of stories by Alice Munro, and I would say that I feel the same way about this volume - solid stories, but not anything that connects deeply with me.

There are at least three stories that feature trains, but most take place in Ontario around Lake Huron, many in past eras, in poor, underpopulated, chilly places. Several had moments where suddenly something happens, and I'd have to read back because I wasn't paying enough attention. Or the author would explain what happ...more
I can't believe it, but I finally read an Alice Munro story collection. I'm not sure what took me so long, but now I've done it, and I understand all the hype. Munro has a way of capturing a mood or emotional state in just a few brief words. Her characters are normal people, but she tells the stories so as to reveal the deeper meanings and struggles in everyday lives. I was particularly surprised by how many of these stories feel like epics. They cover decades of time in just a few pages without...more
Bonnie Brody
Fans of Alice Munro will be very happy with her new collection of short stories. Those that are new to her writing would be better served by starting out with one of her earlier books as these stories are not all that typical of her writing and there is an autobiographical section in the back of the book.

Ms. Munro has published twelve collections of short stories and one novel. She is a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Booker Award and the Lannan Literary Award. Her books ha...more
This is Alice Munro at her best. I read somewhere that the stories in this book are shorter than most of her other short-stories and it is true, we are told only the most essential, and then, the amazing thing is what is not told. What, as the reader, we are left to wonder.

I think I did this book a disservice though. I could not avoid reading one story after the other; finishing one just in time to start another. I used to be a smoker, many years ago when it was still fashionable to do so. But...more
Camille Stein
Y antes de darse cuenta estaba de nuevo en la calle, fingiendo que tenía una razón tan buena como cualquier persona para poner un pie delante del otro.

Pasión descarnada, siempre igual, siempre distinta, contada con la resignación suficiente de quien conoce los procesos, las premisas y las conclusiones inevitables. Con la distancia, la renuncia y el escepticismo del que se sabe lejos de poder reconstruir lo que un día fue el inicio, la infancia o la plenitud. Trazos precisos de amores impreci...more
There is something about the simplicity of Alice Munro that irks me. I will be rude and generalize here but her stories remind me of the boring and bland outlook that Canadians have towards life, it is a contemporary European outlook that revels in the illusion of security, order and happiness, but, nonetheless, empty and void of the harshness and tragedies that make for worthy and interesting lives. I find it hard to get through her stories, there is barely a plot, and there is barely any confl...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Alice Munro Nobel Prize 4 43 Jul 23, 2014 09:59AM  
21st Century Lite...: 12/13 Dear Life - To Reach Japan 54 99 Jun 21, 2014 12:32PM  
21st Century Lite...: 12/13 Dear Life - collection as a whole 25 64 Jan 07, 2014 10:10AM  
CBC Books: December '13 - Dear Life, by Alice Munro 59 86 Jan 06, 2014 11:31AM  
21st Century Lite...: 12/13 Dear Life - Dolly 10 42 Jan 06, 2014 05:40AM  
21st Century Lite...: 12/13 Dear Life - Corrie 16 35 Dec 23, 2013 03:09AM  
  • Hellgoing: Stories
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  • Bark: Stories
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  • Ivyland
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  • Island: The Complete Stories
  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
(Arabic: أليس مونرو)
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...more
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.” 66 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.” 66 likes
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