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Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You: 13 Stories
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Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You: 13 Stories

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,569 ratings  ·  110 reviews

In the thirteen stories in her remarkable second collection, Alice Munro demonstrates the precise observation, straightforward prose style, and masterful technique that led no less a critic than John Updike to compare her to Chekhov. The sisters, mothers and daughters, aunts, grandmothers, and friends in these stories shimmer with
Paperback, 246 pages
Published October 12th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1974)
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When I try to look at life through the prism of Alice Munro's wisdom and perspective, I see the good in the understandably bad and vice versa; I find the mundane, magnificent. She deconstructs the ordinary with a sedate deference, a tranquility that is as sage-like as it is incredible. She tells me that the ache of grief can be dulled by the guilt resulting from an impulsive mistake, that there's a triumph in taming the throes of an impotent, unreciprocated love, that there are occurrences which ...more
James R
When Alice Munro received the Noble Prize, I was curious to read a collection of her stories. I had no previous exposure to her. I chose this collection rather randomly and didn't even notice the 1974 original publication date. Other reviewers have expressed that this is not their favorite collection. Others have commented on the limited scope of plot and character. There certainly is a theme and a consistency among the stories. I'm thinking, perhaps, I should try a more recent collection (and a ...more
The hub has got it into his head that I like Alice Munro. Well, he’s right about that, but it doesn’t mean he can keep on giving me Munro’s books ad infinitum. In the first place, theres a finite supply, and in the second place, I’ve already read most of them. When this turned up for me on xmas, I was sure I’d read it. But either my memory is worse than I think it is, or I had not. I wish I could say what it is that a love about Munro’s writing. She ignores the advice that a short story should c ...more
Colleen O'Neill Conlan
I love Munro's writing. She reminds me of all the complexities of a woman's relationships. As daughters, sisters, wives, lovers, friends. God, she writes sisterly characters exceptionally well. I'm especially drawn to stories of elderly sisters, often living together after one or the other is widowed. There is love, but there is all this history and conflict between them, as in the title story. Memorial is another sister story, about one sister arriving at the other's home for her teenage son's ...more
Oct 01, 2009 Kirsten rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Munro fans; women; humans.
There's an odd mixture of sadness and pleasure to be gained from reading Munro. Time and again, I finish her stories, and all I can think is "She *gets* it," which isn't really a sufficient way of encapsulating her artistry as a story-teller. I enjoyed this entertaining review by Jonathan Franzen, and agree with everything he has to say:

"Something I've Been Meaning To Tell You" is Munro's second collection, and was published in 1974. Compared with her lat
In Dance of the Happy Shades, Alice Munro found herself on several occasions visitor to a richly dilemmatic territory of storytelling that her mature work has since lived in. But, about as she was with those narratives that moved organically and to unbound endings, she stayed as often in places that were visibly finite and grounded by their styles in the time they were written. Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You looks like a conversation between these two different approaches, or between tw ...more
Joan Colby
This early collection of 13 stories by Alice Munro shows her at the top of her form. The stories seem artless, almost directionless, and then seize us by the hand and take us into a hall of illumination. A master of this form, she deserved the Nobel which was awarded to her last year. Oddly, in this book, I didn’t think the title story was the strongest. My favorites are “Material”, “How I Met My Husband” and “Marrakesh”. That said, Munro was incapable of writing a bad story.
Munro's second collection of stories (originally published in 1974) is a fine book, and the stories have all of Munro's essential signature elements -- a minimal plot, vivid and surprising (yet entirely apt) depictions of rural Canada, and deep character development obtained with a pasimonious expenditure of words. Ultimately, though, they pale in comparison to her later, more finished, works like those found in "Friend of My Youth" or "Runaway".
Elaina Vitale
Nov 27, 2007 Elaina Vitale rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: suckers
Can Alice Munro even write a bad story?
Glenn Sumi
There are some gems in here – the sinister title story, the terrifically funny "Material," the great anti-romance "How I Met My Husband," the lyrical "The Found Boat," the poignant "The Ottawa Valley" – but this feels like a transition book in Munro's early career, caught between the brilliant Lives Of Girls And Women (1971) and Who Do You Think You Are? (1978).

A few literary experiments here haven't aged well. But "Material" is one of her strongest stories – a great look at how artists transfor
Jun 17, 2008 Kerri rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of short stories and the inner workings of women
Recommended to Kerri by: Sarah
This collection of short stories got off to a slow start, and finished off the same way for me. But the middle was biting and raw, and those stories really hit at the core of some of the more uncomfortable feelings of being human (or female, specifically)?

I remember now that I tried to start this book long ago, and put it aside before finishing the first story-- I just couldn't get into it. That first story had me stuck again. It's the type of thing where you read five pages and realized you ha
I thought I had read everything Alice Munroe has written, when I came across this collection in a used book store (where I generally like to purchase my books).
While I loved some of the stories, in particular, "How I met my husband", and "Tell me yes or no", there were a few I had to force myself through, which has never happened to me with this author before. Having said that, it is still a highly worthwhile read. Her characters are richly developed, and evoked a sense of curiosity and wonder.
It's obvious in several cases that these stories were written in the seventies. This feels odd because it seems to me that in most Munro stories I have a sense that locating the events in a particular time, while certainly possible, is often irrelevant.

There were also several interesting forays into first person narration: "Material," "How I Met My Husband," "Forgiveness in Families." Indeed, these were three of my favorites of the collection. Perhaps the best was the title story; there is the
I'm not a huge fan of realism as a genre, but Alice Munro is such a good writer that I always enjoy her work. She is outstanding at shaping her short stories in such a way that they proceed logically, yet not predictably, from introduction to conclusion. The only slight criticism I have is that the range of the stories in this book is small: they are about similar women in similar situations. One or two stories with different settings or protagonists would provide the mixture with a little more ...more
Olivia Haber-Greenwood
This series of stories asks about aging, about sexuality, about duplexes and the people that live in them. I liked the story "How I met my husband" because it's about a young woman who has a sexual encounter with a man, is very taken by him, and waits for a long time for a letter from him. She finally realizes it won't come, and that she can't be someone who spends her whole life waiting. In the meantime, the mailman has taken her eagerness at his arrival to mean she loves him. And that's the ma ...more
Alice Munro is now receiving the attention she deserves after being honored with the Nobel prize for literature. This collection has gems, but I wouldn't rank it with her best. However, a couple of short excerpts will show what is so special about her stories. In her story "Material" she deconstructs the book jacket bio, full of hyperbole, of her ex-husband, a writer. He is described as having worked as a telephone lineman (he once had a job for less than 2 weeks painting telephone poles), and a ...more
Wowowowo. Alice Munro can capture a family, can capture motherhood, adolescence, jealously/grief/forgiveness in a mere couple of pages. Forgiveness in Families from this collection is perhaps my favourite. With each story, readers are gripped by her opening lines; in some, like How I met my Husband, it is the denouement that leaves us reeling. I can't believe I used to ignore her on bookshelves. There are so many stories in this collection I will continue to peruse.
This is a wonderful collection. Munro's "Dance of the Happy Shades" was published in 1968 and this in 1974. During those 6 years Alice's two older daughters went through their teen years, while her youngest was still in elementary school; she continued to live in Vancouver (which she hated), and she divorced Jim Munro in 1972. Her writing is much improved, but it is her story telling that has blossomed. You can sense she had new-found confidence in her writing; her efforts had been validated; sh ...more
Andrew Davis
Thirteen stories from the master of short story. Each different and when reading them it's like getting into a different world and taken by the hand by the author. In best tradition of Chekov and Katherine Mansfield.
A quote from "Walking on Water": "Eugene would chat with old people, he was a favourite with them; they saw him as a gentle ambassador from the terrible land of youth."
"Walking on Water"
He had joined these clubs not out of a real desire to be sociable but as a precaution against his natural tendencies, which might lead him, he thought, into becoming a sort of hermit. During his years in the drugstore business he had learned how to get through all kinds of conversations with all sorts of people, to skate along affably and go on thinking his own thoughts. He practiced the same thing with his wife. His aim was to give people what they thought they wanted, and con
Naile Berna
Five Stars! I can not read Munro enough... I am just amazed how much of live a person can experience, and have the talent and skill to put it into words in such a fashion...

I tried writing down the names of the stories I loved the most, and gave up. I loved very single one of these stories.

Munro is such a good companion, a mentor, a mother, a friend. My favorite author of this day.
Whenever I take a ferry (which doesn’t happen as often as I’d like), I feel like a character in an Alice Munro story: a woman traveling through an isolated and potentially dangerous yet stunningly beautiful landscape in which anything might happen and change her life forever. And so, for a trip to Vashon Island, in the Puget Sound, last weekend, I took along Munro’s 1974 collection, Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You. As with many of her stories, the main theme of the collection is betrayal ...more
Written in the early seventies, some of the stories are strongly marked by the hippie culture of the time. If you can get beyond this the stories are very good.
Books Ring Mah Bell
Alice Munro is one of the best things to come out of Canada. Her writing more than makes up for Alanis Morissette.

And Celine Dion.
Amisha Kabra
The stories in the book all center around the theme of secrecy and secrets that the main characters have, some sinister and others harmless. The stories that stood out for me were "How I met my husband" because of the light hearted twist, "Marrakech" and "The Ottawa Valley". Alice Munro has an unpretentious and factual way of writing and she goes out of her to make things clear so when you feel a story is vague, it's most likely because she's kept it ambiguous and open to interpretation on purpo ...more
A critic I read called her writing "savage." I agree. Absolutely trenchant. This is writing, and this is reading.
Every story was good, though some felt unfinished. The first three were incredible: 'Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You', 'Material', 'How I Met My Husband'-- wow, these were flawless.
The rest of the book didn't quite live up to that. If I read one of the first three in a magazine I'd have looked up the author, but the later ones I wouldn't have thought to. Very well-written, only not as grabbing.

Possibly because of the flaw of all short story collections-- repetition. Characters and plots
Frances Sawaya
Many of the stories deal with how we define ourselves, by the choices we make, by the "things" we surround ourselves with, by the way we use the limits of time. From "The Spanish Lady" --- Now one of my daughters is hitchhiking in Europe and the other is a counselor at a camp for handicapped children, and all that time of care and confusion that seemed as if it would ever end seems as if it never was. What a sentence! And Munro carries these thoughts on time right through to the story's conclusi ...more
see other ravings about alice munro. i find every one of her stories crucial.
The comparison to Chekhov is apt. These are timeless stories that cut to the core of human emotion and interaction. The surrounding scenery and setting are secondary to the characters in them, characters full of long memory, or hurt, but always with deep deep complexities. This is the type of book that really rewards a re-read, a careful read and a thoughtful pause after a page or at least a story. Plowing through them on plane rides like i did really isn't the best way. Still, these stories wer ...more
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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
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“The unhappiest moment I could never tell you. All our fights blend into each other and are in fact re-enactments of the same fight, in which we punish each other--I with words, Hugh with silence--for being each other. We never needed any more than that.” 26 likes
“Hugo felt the world was hostile to his writing, he felt not only all its human inhabitants but its noises and diversions and ordinary clutter were linked against him, maliciously, purposefully, diabolically thwarting and maiming him and keeping him from his work. And I, whose business it was to throw myself between him and the world, was failing to do so, by choice perhaps as much as ineptitude for the job. I did not believe in him. I had not understood how it would be necessary to believe in him. I believed that he was clever and talented, whatever that might mean, but I was not sure he would turn out to be a writer. He did not have the authority I thought a writer should have. He was too nervous, too touchy with everybody, too much of a showoff. I believed that writers were calm, sad people, knowing too much. I believed that there was a difference about them, some hard and shining, rare intimidating quality they had from the beginning, and Hugo didn’t have it. I thought that someday he would recognize this. Meanwhile, he lived in a world whose rewards and punishments were as strange, as hidden from me, as if he had been a lunatic.” 4 likes
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