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Selected Stories

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,907 Ratings  ·  254 Reviews
This first-ever selection of Alice Munro's stories sums up her genius. Her territory is the secrets that crackle beneath the façade of everyday lives, the pain and promises, loves and fears of apparently ordinary men and women whom she renders extraordinary and unforgettable.
Paperback, 412 pages
Published November 6th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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s.penkevich
The complexity of things - the things within things - just seems to be endless. I mean nothing is easy, nothing is simple.

From short accounts of singular events to the sprawling history of a life or love affair, Alice Munro shows it is the little things that matter most. These ‘things within things’ - the greater truth in the smallest of details, are the hearts and souls of her fiction. Selected Stories is an excellent best-of introduction to the author as it collects 28 stories from three dec
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Dia
Mar 07, 2009 Dia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this collection, I'd read one or two of Munro's stories in the New Yorker -- "Deep-Holes" was good enough to tear out & keep -- but I really didn't know what she was up to in general. This collection of short stories will let the reader feel thoroughly familiar with, though never bored by, Munro's style. There are certain things she almost always does (once past her earliest works): begin with a story that isn't the real story and doesn't even really illuminate the real story ...more
Shawn
Jan 23, 2009 Shawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
She's just a genius. This book came out a decade ago, and doesn't have some of her more recent stuff -- like the wonderful Runaway -- but it's just amazing story after amazing story. The stories have some of the surfaces of quieter, plainer fiction about rural, domestic life, but they're packed with insight and dramatic moment, and Munro is more experimental than she's given credit for -- her leaps in time are jarring and amazing. Especially in the stories that are connected by character and pla ...more
Dave Comerford
Apr 19, 2012 Dave Comerford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bet Alice Munro is responsible for a lot of really bad writing. These stories involve ordinary people living in unremarkable towns and cities (Toronto; small prairie towns) doing pretty humdrum things - many of these stories recount visits to old friends or family. The language is so natural and the scenes so well drawn that the text requires no effort to read. It is tempting to believe then that they took no effort or particular talent, or even much a subject matter, to write.

What I am left
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Kaisa
Aug 03, 2007 Kaisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Alice Munro writes entirely in the medium of short stories. While I don't mind the trend of ever elongating fiction in modern literature, this collection of Munro's selected shorts is nothing short of a thrill of economy.

Munro's stories are brief, but the impressions her characters and the events to which they are sewed leave with the reader are long lasting. In White Dump, Munro gives us two characters, one a mother, the other her daughter, who move forward and back towards an event that does
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Kristen
Jul 15, 2010 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This was our latest book club pick, and it was selected because many in the literary community think that Alice Munro should win the Pulitzer Prize; it’s reputed that the only reason she hasn’t is that no author who exclusively writes short stories has ever won (oh, literary politics).

Munro’s writing style is clean, even sparse at times, but she has an ability to pack a mean emotional punch. I’ve heard it said that her stories illuminate the extraordinary in the ordinary lives of people, and it
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Helen (Helena/Nell)
Alice Munro is one of the best contemporary short story writers. I know this because everybody says so. Some of them say she is the best.

I love short stories but although I have read Munro before, I have never quite clicked with any of hers. And I love that ‘click’ that comes with the short story, that feeling as you get to the end that you intend to go right back to the beginning again, and that this will be a great pleasure, and that you will do it again and again and again.

I’ve been reading t
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the gift
i have read everything published by this author, so impressed she has won deserved Nobel. rather than go through each book i decide to just note those i really like in this selection, then maybe the collections since. you cannot go wrong with any selection. you also will never feel like you have wasted reading time, as she is always concise, always readable, always resonant...

theory on reading alice munro: if each collection has thirteen stories, three or four will be good, six or seven very goo
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Jenni
May 02, 2008 Jenni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shortstories
This is totally random, but when we were in Victoria, BC, I walked into this giant, wonderful bookstore called Munro's Books. I bought a few things there, and the cashier gave me some free store bookmarks. Well, I pulled one out the other day to stick in this book, and then read in the author bio that Alice Munro is in fact the owner of Munro's Books! Go figure.

The stories I have read so far are WONDERFUL. Thanks for the rec, Paula!
Sylvie
Dec 04, 2013 Sylvie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, this wonderful writer is not for me. Her stories are so dismal. I've tried to read Ms. Munro's work many times and I always end up abandoning it. OK, let me be perfectly blunt: For me, this woman's writing can ruin a perfectly good day. Her writing is magnificent; her subject matter plunges me down a dingy well.
Shelley
Jul 23, 2015 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the common reader
Recommended to Shelley by: Margaret
It took me a few months to labour over this short story collection: what a good investment that was! With Alice Munro you have to slow down, really, really slow down, and let yourself be carried along in the cadence of each sentence. Sentences are fragments. Paragraphs are fragments. Her whole stories can be fragments placed together, artfully and artlessly. The effects are dazzling.

My favourites, in the order of appearance in this book, are:
1. “Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You”: Masterfu
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Kam
Dec 04, 2008 Kam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was intrigued by the blurbs on the back of this edition--had heard a lot about her but never read anything, seeing as most of her work has been published in anthologies and magazines. I'm not one for short stories or short fiction, but the narrative voices here are truly distinct. In her stories about her native Canada, Munro delivers with a consistent, pragmatic and low-key narration that draws one in with details and insights not with the "unerhoerte Begebenheit" or "seminal moment" introduc ...more
Kate Campbell
Apr 26, 2014 Kate Campbell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere I read about a patient in a hospital, a wounded British soldier, who waited each day for a specific nurse to appear in hope she’d be the one to make afternoon tea. He loved her first because she did not burn the water and served tea that was always perfect. That’s how I feel about Alice Munro’s Selected Stories, all perfect.

OK, maybe not all perfect, but very close. “White Dump” strikes me as a long slog to not much, perhaps the point of the story and I’m too dense to get it. "The Alba
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Brittany
Sep 15, 2008 Brittany rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-japan
OMG, I am so happy I'm finally done with book. Apparently I am not a fan of short stories. I don't like how by the time you have gotten to know a character the story is over. And when these short stories end, they just end. There's never much of an ending. I just don't get the appeal.
Vinod Kaul
Oct 05, 2014 Vinod Kaul rated it it was amazing
My first attraction to read Alice Munro was the Nobel Prize conferred on her last year. She is not so well known in India and her books were not easy to get or so very expensive. However, the award did the trick and I was able to grab this collection of short stories at a discount from the India Book Fair at Pragati Maindan, New Delhi.

So what's so special about the writings of Alice Munro that she has won both a Man Booker and the Nobel?

To read Alice Munro is to jump into an ocean and be immerse
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Patrick Faller
Apr 14, 2011 Patrick Faller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This selection collects four stories apiece from Munro's first seven collections, from Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You through Open Secrets. Perhaps its most interesting feature is an Author's Forward, essentially a craft essay in which Munro discusses the images that give rise to her stories, the process by which she develops her layered narratives, and the roles various editors have played in her later, more daring work. In dicussing the evolution of her craft, Munro notes that as she' ...more
Sal
Jul 17, 2014 Sal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
Munro does a really fantastic job of creating very three-dimensional characters. She's able to compress an entire novel's worth of story-telling into 30 or so pages. My only problem with this collection is that in reading the stories one after another, the characters being to appear quite similar to one another. Middle-aged, divorced female reflecting seems to be the common ground. Of course, I believe these stories came in Munro's own middle age, and it reflects that. Still, she does an excelle ...more
Julius Mendoza
There couldnt be a better book if you talk about short stories than this! This is the best of the stories of the best short story writer now alive! ALICE MUNRO! When would she win the NOBEL PRIZE? I should go on that she is severely understated! Why? Perhaps the readers could not get her writing because she writes about the same theme: a girl from a rural Canadian town growing up to discover her sexuality, find her place in the socitey, exploring love and hatred and at times rebelling from the n ...more
Sierra
May 03, 2008 Sierra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alice Munro is my favorite favorite favorite, and this book contains some of her very best stories. "Differently" starts out like this:
“Georgia once took a creative writing class, and what the instructor told her was: Too many things. Too many things going on at the same time; also too many people. Think, he told her. What is the important thing? What do you want us to pay attention to? Think. Eventually she wrote a story that was about her grandfather killing chickens, and the instructor seeme
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Vicki
Mar 01, 2016 Vicki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish this book, but I read enough of the stories (10) to get an idea for what Alice Munro is about. Beautiful, sad, melancholy, skilled writing about ordinary lives. Extremely clear and talented, but so resonantly sad and sometimes helpless that I couldn't read any more than the ten stories.
Rick K.
Sep 04, 2015 Rick K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, 2015
I didn't really want to like this. The author focuses on darkness, adultery, dirty minds and pettiness. One is reminded of Sherlock Holmes, where he talks about the capacity to conceal unwholesomeness in the countryside. In some senses, the author revels in the Schadenfreude of looking at a car wreck, where her characters make poor decisions 'because they have to for themselves' and then we see their broken lives moving forward.

All that said, the problem I had with my inclination to dislike Mun
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Rochelle
Jul 03, 2009 Rochelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I love this book.

Munro is a genius. The stories are beautifully written and constantly shift in unexpected directions. She does fascinating things with time and the narrators' voices but you barely notice any of the technical work because the stories are so engrossing. The stories span 30 years of Munro's career but there are some common links between them. Certain themes pop up again and again. They all take place in the Canadian countryside and all of the characters have secrets, some of which
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Gail
Jan 24, 2016 Gail rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I have read about halfway through this book and am going to have to set it aside. I can appreciate the literary quality of Alice Munro's writing, but I don't enjoy her stories. It's not that I have to enjoy everything I read, but I haven't cared about or identified with a single character very much. None of them are very memorable.These stories are dreary and devoid of any joy, humor, hope or beauty. Every romance and marriage fails. There's a lot of cynicism here. I can see why Munro's stories ...more
Scott Cox
I rate this collection of short stories by Canadian writer Alice Munro 3+ stars. As the author notes, the stories are in rough chronological sequence. I rate the earlier stories from the 1960's and 1970's lower than I would rate the later stories from the 1980's. The earlier stories seem repetitive both in theme and character; it seemed liked the same story of a divorcee reflecting on past actions kept being retold. However the latter stories seem to have more depth and I appreciated the depth a ...more
Alan
Dec 16, 2015 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Books as good as this come along only a limited number of times in one's life. These stories create an entire world of fictional people who inhabit or had family who lived in a county in Ontario, Canada. The stories don't revolve around a typical conflict but rather the normal strains and stresses of everyday relationships -- with spouses, children, parents, neighbors, store owners, and people on the street -- are central to each story. Perspective is actually the keys element in every story. In ...more
Brian Grover
Apr 08, 2015 Brian Grover rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This is a huge collection of stories, and they're a bit dry, so I'll admit that it felt more like an assignment than a pleasant decision to crack this book. And I'll also admit that it took me a while to warm up to Munro's style, which is pretty spare - some of these really drag. Having said that, I did warm up to it, and enjoyed the collection more and more as I progressed through it.

Lots of independent, middle-aged Canadian women on display here, most of whom are divorced (several because of m
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Mayra
Dec 15, 2014 Mayra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first picked up this book I was under the mistaken impression that it was actually very boring. This impression I got from a glimpse at a few of the stories. On the outset they look boring and you don't know why you should care about the characters. You have to read it carefully and in my case a few times over to really make full sense of the beauty of each of these stories. Each story has very well-fleshed, carefully wrought characters, each molded into an individual identity influenced ...more
Al
Feb 19, 2014 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The stories in this book were written over a period of about 30 years. Almost all of them are set in Ms. Munro's native Canada, and mostly concern the lives of ordinary people. I haven't spent much time in Canada, but it seems to me that Ms. Munro has an uncanny facility to present the lives, psyches, and living environments of her characters. They are somewhat like Americans, but....well, they're not. Even to an alien like me, they're clearly Canadian.
To me, though, Ms. Munro's greatest stre
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globulon
Read her story "Walker Brothers Cowboy" in Literature and Its Writers: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama and really liked it. Then I saw a great review by spenkevich that pushed me to get a copy. So far I have enjoyed the stories I read here as well.
Hugh
Apr 18, 2015 Hugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am only halfway through this selection of Munro's stories, but I am truly amazed at her talents. She is one of the finest short story writers I have read. My reaction may be tempered with time, but at this point she seems stellar.
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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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“A story is not like a road to follow … it's more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.” 188 likes
“I loved taking off. In my own house, I seemed to be often looking for a place to hide - sometimes from the children but more often from the jobs to be done and the phone ringing and the sociability of the neighborhood. I wanted to hide so that I could get busy at my real work, which was a sort of wooing of distant parts of myself.” 22 likes
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