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Dance of the Happy Shades
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Dance of the Happy Shades

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,652 ratings  ·  135 reviews
**Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature**

Alice Munro's territory is the farms and semi-rural towns of south-western Ontario. In these dazzling stories she deals with the self-discovery of adolescence, the joys and pains of love and the despair and guilt of those caught in a narrow existence. And in sensitively exploring the lives of ordinary men and women, she makes us a
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 2nd 2000 by Vintage (first published 1968)
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The Stranger by Albert CamusOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezOf Mice and Men by John SteinbeckThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayLord of the Flies by William Golding
Nobel Laureates
172nd out of 397 books — 315 voters
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Best Short Story Collections
118th out of 707 books — 560 voters

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Community Reviews

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Aug 20, 2012 Jenn(ifer) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, John Cheever, Chekhov and Faulkner
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: s.penkevich

Intro (this piece inspired the title story):

Does anyone remember Steve’s review of Lydia Davis’s “Collected Stories” when he said “Lydia Davis shits out tiny nuggets of pure golden prose and says 'oh, this old thing’'?”I didn’t exactly agree with him on the Lydia Davis front, but I would love to steal that quote and use it in reference to Alice Munro.

Alice Munro is a master story teller. No, she didn’t twist my brain into knots and exasperate me. No, she
Mar 01, 2013 Laima rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Spenk and Karen
Dance of the Happy Shades by Alice Munro

I really liked this book.

I liked it a LOT.

Ok… I loved it!

I’ve been meaning to read work by Alice Munro for a while so when I found a second hand copy of Dance of the Happy Shades for a few dollars, I picked it up.

This book is a Governor General’s Award winning collection of short stories.

The following quote by Hugh Garner in the forward to this book, pretty much, in my opinion, describes the quality and essence of Ms. Munro’s writing.

“The second-rate writ
Like the children in fairy stories who have seen their parents make pacts with terrifying strangers, who have discovered that our fears are based on nothing but the truth, but who come back fresh from marvellous escapes and take up their knives and forks, with humility and good manners, prepared to live happily ever after-like them, dazed and powerful with secrets, I never said a word. (Images)

Thankfully Munro stores up those childhood secrets and works them with a strange alchemy into gold. Thi
I chose this book for an independent reading project in my high school fiction class. My teacher suggested Munro because he though I could identify with her particular writing style. This collection kept me enraptured with plot, characters, and the numerous nuggets of unexpected beauty dispersed throughout. Alice Munro is a brilliant writer, a fact I believe can be affirmed by the end of the titular story, Dance of the Happy Shades. Her stories and the characters within them have the uncanny abi ...more
I fell hopelessly in love with Alice Munro!

I find it hard to review short stories because they are some you love and adore that you can read over and over again but also some you dislike. (Not in this case though!)
Our subject in the English lesson this year was Canada. We talked about environmental problems, multiculturalism and even read a few examples of Canadian "literature". Which my teacher picked out really, really bad I think and my opinion on this strengthened after I read this short sto
Darcy McLaughlin
I felt a certain shame as a Canadian reader having never read any of Alice Munro's stories. I don't know how I made it this far without it, but the Canadian Lit classes I took in university decided to try to kill off any affection I had for our native writers through sheer boredom (I'm looking at you Sinclair Ross). Fortunately there's work like "Dance of the Happy Shades", a book that by all means should be boring but is captivating due to Munro's incredible ability to transform the mundane Can ...more
Neveen Helmi
أول مجموعة قصصية أقرئها لأليس مونرو،وأول مجموعة قصصية نشرت لها. الكتاب ببساطة شديدة مبهر وممتع، القصص مستني شخصيًّا رغم كونها محلية جدًا لو جاز التعبير من بلد آخر وثقافة مختلفة.
انطابعي عن أليس مونرو بعد انتهاء الكتاب يتلخص في أنها من أفضل كتاب القصص القصيرة الذين قرأت لهم حتى الآن، أسلوبها المميز، والتكنيك الخاص الذي تستخدمه في صياغة القصة وترتيب الأحداث ملحوظ من القصص الأولى في المجموعة. هي فعلاً صاحبة مدرسة جديدة في كتابة القصة القصيرة، ربما لهذا السبب منحت جائزة نوبل.
رغم اختلاف القصص وتنوعها
Several of these stories were amazing. The last two, which I read early on, "The Peace of Utrecht" and "The Dance of the Happy Shades" were so subtle and strange in a very realistic, possible way. I loved them. I don't think I've ever really learned to be satisfied with short stories, or maybe I haven't learned how to read them. I'm always left wanting more, left wanting a novel. A short story can be beautifully crafted and the characters and their lives may be vividly brought to life within twe ...more
From "Boys and Girls": "I no longer felt safe. It seemed that in the minds of the people around me there was a steady undercurrent of thought, not to be deflected, on this one subject. The word girl had formerly seemed to me innocent and unburdened, like the word child; now it appeared that it was no such thing. A girl was not, as I had supposed, simply what I was; it was what I had to become. It was a definition, always touched with emphasis, with reproach and disappointment. Also it was a joke ...more
The little I’ve read of Munro shows a steady attentiveness to the particular, as opposed to the general, nature of the studied life. While a good deal of her later fiction makes thematic and consistent her concentration on the clarified lives of older women, this collection tends to recall and collect stories of children and childhood for the sake of their own peculiar awakenings, even where these are opened before and examined in a harshly retrospective gaze.

Stories like The Shining Houses and
This collection of early Munro is so strong, so observant, and so wise. They contain perfect examples of her strengths. The stories are all placed in rural Ontario, perhaps in the 1960's, with a variety of adults working on farms or other jobs found in small towns. Many stories also explored the lives of adolescents and children. These stories are a special gift.
Gina Whitlock
Munro writes about real people in every day life. Most of her stories center on farm life. This set of short stories is very enjoyable and the characters are well developed. The most haunting story for me was The Peace of Ultrecht, two sisters caring for their aging mother. Although not everything was the same for us in real life, the story was too hauntingly close.
3 Sterne

Kurzgeschichten sind generell einfach nicht mein Genre. Ich empfinde es als anstrengend, mich alle paar Seiten auf neue Figuren und auf ein neues Setting einlassen zu müssen. Außerdem passiert mir einfach zu wenig und wenn dann endlich was passiert, ist die Story zu Ende. ;)

Dennoch wollte ich gerne mal was von der letztjährigen Nobelpreisträgerin Alice Munro lesen. Stilistisch ist sie wirklich sehr gut und ein paar der Geschichten fand ich auch inhaltlich interessant, leider nicht alle.
Tatyana Naumova
Хороший, но очень скучный и беспросветный сборник. Много женского вопроса опять же.
The economy of prose and the sheer humanity of Munro's characters takes my breath away every time.
Lynn Sloan
Last October, in 2013, Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and my writers group decided we should read each of her books, in order of publication. This first volume of Munro’s is wonderful. Her opening story,
Walker Brothers Cowboy,” is one of my favorite stories. In it we are introduced to the landscape that will dominate much of Munro’s work: Ontario near Lake Huron, a hard landscape, and a family living on the outskirts of a town; the father is tranquil, and barely making a
A friend gave me "The Love of a Good Woman" as an introduction to Alice Munro in December 2011. The last lines of my review for that collection read:
"So I can't say I liked the stories - most made me uncomfortable. But her writing is superb. And the stories made me think for a long time after reading each one. For those reasons I will read more Alice Munro."
And that I have done. I have read three (and now four) more collections and countless stories published in magazines and her "Selected Stori
Ernest Junius
In all honesty, I only decided to get my hands on Alice Munro’s books after her winning of Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. Admitting this will only make me look like a shallow person, but I assure you I am not always as shallow as I sometimes appear to be. After I got the book in late 2013, I made a whole year of mental preparation to ready myself to actually say, Yes. I have to read it right now.

3 things were holding me off during that one year period:
1. Alice Munro is known for her short s
Frances Sawaya
Gentle and stunning at the same time: gentle in the flow but stunning in the harsh blows to the spirit. Virtually every sentence a work of art, much like every film frame becomes a painting when captured by the great cinematographer. I started noting quotes and sections to refer to when discussing this collection and it soon became an impossible task. I finished the book a few days ago but have been mulling over every story and thinking over the themes and characters. Just the aspects of "cowboy ...more
Johann Guenther
MUNRO, Alice: „Tanz der seligen Geister“, Frankfurt 2013
Manche Kritiker nennen sie die „größte Erzählerin des 20. Jahrhunderts“. Sie ist wirklich eine großartige Erzählerin. So wie die russischen Klassiker das 19. Jahrhundert Russlands uns nahe bringen, erfährt man von Munro das ländliche Amerika des 20. Jahrhunderts. 15 Kurzgeschichten mit dem Titel der letzten Geschichte „Tanz der seligen Geister“ hat 1968 den Grundstein ihrer Bekanntheit gesetzt, der 2013 zum Literaturnobelpreis führte.
15 Erz
You just can't go wrong with Munro. I'll say, though, that this one was the least engaging collection of hers I've read - it's a debut, so in some sense, you can tell she hasn't quite hit her stride in terms of prose and pacing, even if the material that she makes so astonishing later in her career is also the subject matter of this book. The last three or four stories are just fantastic, though.
This is Alice Munro's first published collection. I hadn't read it for some years, and I'd forgotten how perfect some of the stories are. Such sureness of touch: it includes several of my favourite stories, notably Boys and Girls, Dance of the Happy Shades, and most especially Red Dress -- 1946. The comparisons with Chekhov and VS Pritchett are thoroughly justified.
Felix Purat
Recent winner of the Nobel Prize, known at times as the Canadian Chekhov - eventually I was destined to get around to reading some Alice Munro. I chose Dance of the Happy Shades at random from an English language bookshop in Heidelberg, and began reading.

I wasn't certain what to make of her stories at first, since literature taking place in very domestic settings is usually a turnoff for me. But the truth of the matter is, Munro's short stories are top quality pieces of literature. Subject matt
"Walker Brothers Cowboy"
"The Shining Houses"
"Thanks for the Ride"
"The Office"
"An Ounce of Cure"
"The Time of Death"
"Day of the Butterfly"
"Boys and Girls"
"Red Dress—1946"
"Sunday Afternoon"
"A Trip to the Coast"
"The Peace of Utrecht"
"Dance of the Happy Shades"
Simone Subliminalpop
La prima raccolta di racconti di Alice Munro (1968) ed era già chiaro a partire da lì.
Sono tutti, se non bellissimi, quasi, ma lo stesso segnalo tra i migliori episodi: “Il cowboy della Walzer Brothers”, “Maschi e femmine” e “La pace di Utrecht”.
"A house is all right for a man to work in. He brings his work into the house, a place is cleared for it; the house rearranges itself as best it can around him. Everybody recognizes that his work exists. He is not expected to answer the telephone, to find things that are lost, to see why the children are crying, or feed the cat. He can shut his door. Imagine (I said) a mother shutting her door, and the children knowing she is behind it; why, the very thought of it is outrageous to them. A woman ...more
Adam Ross
Finished. Incredible. I'd recommend the title story as a classic, though nearly all the stories are first rate with the exception of "The Shining Houses."
More than with any other writer, as I'm reading her descriptions of personalities and emotions, I'm saying to myself 'yes, that's the perfect way to describe that'. They are very particular and elusive things. She gets a grip on them.

Here are a few just from "The Peace Of Utrecht"

"Mother is that your house?"
And I felt that my daughter's voice expressed a complex disappointment- to which, characteristically she seemed resigned, or even resigned in advance; it contained the whole flatness and stra
James F
I'm beginning to read Alice Munro because she is the 2013 Nobel Prize winner in Literature. This is Munro's first collection of short stories, published in 1968. Fifteen stories, set in rural and small town Canada. Obviously well-written, in a realistic style, but with a certain sameness of tone: all are about people who are in some way trapped in unsatisfying lives. Nearly all are in the first person, many of them narrated by young girls -- she writes about childhood with a refreshing lack of n ...more
Initially, I was disappointed in Dance of the Happy Shades because it did not produce the same awe-inspiring reaction as Munro's Lives of Girls and Women, but upon finishing this first published collection of Munro's short stories, I again see her brilliance, and especially the potential for growth. I intentionally chose to read her earlier works so that I can observe her development as an author through time. These short stories cover a myriad of life experiences, and Munro is especially adept ...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
More about Alice Munro...
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“At high school I was never comfortable for a minute. I did not know about Lonnie. Before an exam, she got icy hands and palpitations, but I was close to despair at all times. When I was asked a question in class, any simple little question at all, my voice was apt to come out squeaky, or else hoarse and trembling. When I had to go to the blackboard I was sure—even at a time of the month when this could not be true—that I had blood on my skirt. My hands became slippery with sweat when they were required to work the blackboard compass. I could not hit the ball in volleyball; being called upon to perform an action in front of others made all my reflexes come undone. I hated Business Practice because you had to rule pages for an account book, using a straight pen, and when the teacher looked over my shoulder all the delicate lines wobbled and ran together. I hated Science; we perched on stools under harsh lights behind tables of unfamiliar, fragile equipment, and were taught by the principal of the school, a man with a cold, self-relishing voice—he read the Scriptures every morning—and a great talent for inflicting humiliation. I hated English because the boys played bingo at the back of the room while the teacher, a stout, gentle girl, slightly cross-eyed, read Wordsworth at the front. She threatened them, she begged them, her face red and her voice as unreliable as mine. They offered burlesqued apologies and when she started to read again they took up rapt postures, made swooning faces, crossed their eyes, flung their hands over their hearts. Sometimes she would burst into tears, there was no help for it, she had to run out into the hall. Then the boys made loud mooing noises; our hungry laughter—oh, mine too—pursued her. There was a carnival atmosphere of brutality in the room at such times, scaring weak and suspect people like me.” 6 likes
“He tells me how the Great Lakes came to be. All where Lake Huron is now, he says, used to be flat land, a wide flat plain. Then came the ice, creeping down from the north, pushing deep into the low places. Like that—and he shows me his hand with his spread fingers pressing the rock-hard ground where we are sitting. His fingers make hardly any impression at all and he says, “Well, the old ice cap had a lot more power behind it than this hand has.” And then the ice went back, shrank back towards the North Pole where it came from, and left its fingers of ice in the deep places it had gouged, and ice turned to lakes and there they were today. They were new, as time went. I try to see that plain before me, dinosaurs walking on it, but I am not able even to imagine the shore of the Lake when the Indians were there, before Tuppertown. The tiny share we have of time appalls me, though my father seems to regard it with tranquillity. Even my father, who sometimes seems to me to have been at home in the world as long as it has lasted, has really lived on this earth only a little longer than I have, in terms of all the time there has been to live in. He has not known a time, any more than I, when automobiles and electric lights did not at least exist. He was not alive when this century started. I will be barely alive—old, old—when it ends. I do not like to think of it. I wish the Lake to be always just a lake, with the safe-swimming floats marking it, and the breakwater and the lights of Tuppertown.” 3 likes
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