Sarah Laing's Reviews > Too Much Happiness

Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
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's review
Dec 26, 2011

really liked it
Read from December 26, 2011 to January 02, 2012

I do love Alice Munro - I think what makes her spectacular as a short story writer is that you feel immediately immersed in her stories. There is no slow warm-up, only to be foiled by a rapid conclusion. Also they have great scope - often, rather than concentrating on a particular vignette in a life, she describes the whole life. She does all those other things that great short story writers do - just the right detail, stopping before she has spelled everything out.

I loved most of the stories, in particular the one about the music teacher and her student who subsequently becomes a writer and writes a story about her, but fails to recognise her at the signing table (surely that's happened to Munro!) but I wasn't so keen on the final story - about a Russian mathematician. The scope was almost too broad and it took me a while to warm to the story.

The funny thing about Munro was that when I first read her in my early 20s, I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Her stories seemed provincial to me. But now I'm older and I love her stories for their emotional resonance, their scope, their beauty. I've read enough stories set in big cities that the small-town settings are unique and perfect for their cast of characters.

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