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Friend of My Youth

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  3,562 ratings  ·  279 reviews
**Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature**

A woman haunted by dreams of her dead mother. An adulterous couple stepping over the line where the initial excitement ends and the pain begins. A widow visiting a Scottish village in search of her husband's past - and instead discovering unsettling truths about a total stranger. The ten stories in this collection not only astonis
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 5th 1991 by Vintage (first published October 1990)
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4.11  · 
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 ·  3,562 ratings  ·  279 reviews

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Jennifer (aka EM)
Dec 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: maple-flavoured
Coming back to Alice Munro - she speaks to me in an entirely new way, now. Stories of adult daughters and mothers and sickness and grief; infidelities and eccentricities; stories of aging - the "sardonic droop of defeat" (Differently, p. 218). Stories of women's friendships. Stories of how life happens to people, and what they become when it does. All perfectly realized, quiet and wise, perfectly told and told completely. Captured into a form over which Munro exerts complete control, making it a ...more
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Munro never disappoints. These are all wonderful stories. Though, plot-wise, my life is nothing like the stories here, I am left wondering after each story how Munro knows my inner life so well. Her grasp of human nature, her evocation of the world of her characters: all of it is astounding. The more I read of Munro, the more I am convinced of her genius.
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Do not look away
Shelves: read-in-2017
Wow, what a ride.
Disquieting. Merciless. Thought-provoking.
Two sisters, one man. Much misery.
Men and women and their ascribed roles moving from generation to generation and leaving track on their children. Changing the pattern requires an effort that not all women are ready to make. Do we get any choice at making effective decisions about what our life is going to be like?
Religion, society and fear become the worst enemies towards emancipation. There is no time to hesitate, because life releases
Small town southern Ontario settings, ordinary people going about nothing more spectacular than living, loving, working, dying; but Alice Munro turns the seemingly mundane into glowing, jewel-like tales that reveal the ‘shameless, marvellous, shattering absurdity’ of life. Each story leaves you faintly breathless, full of wonder at how she can so smoothly pull back the curtain, reveal the essence, the core of being. What I particularly loved in this, her seventh collection, first published in 19 ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have a new best friend. Best of all, she has written a lot of books. Not only were these great short stories but there was that bit of carry over here and there that let me construct the locale, the town, the lake, the salt mine beneath. Lake Huron is mentioned. But the clue finally came up about a road, that let me know what bit of Ontario I was visiting. And I've been there. Not for long, but I have been there; the extra reward that comes from good short stories.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Kinda boring. Well-written, but each tale of domesticity and humdrum-ity fell flat for me after the first two stories. Just too much husbands and wives and domestic ho-hum. I understand there's plenty under the surface there, but I GOT BORED, YO. I actually stopped reading with 100 pages left. Onward!
snackywombat (v.m.)
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers
Reading this was a long time in coming. The story "Meneseteung" that I read five years ago in the Best American Stories of the 20th Century was actually the first Alice Munro that I had come across and then over the years countless people--mainly writers--have mentioned her as a favorite. This stands to reason: Munro is a writer's writer. She spins tales; she writes real stories. Yet they have a modernism and sophistication that transcends time, place, trends, gender... everything. Her style rem ...more
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This lady stuns me in so many ways. She offers lessons in subtlety. Yes, brilliance can be quiet. Munro takes the past and modernizes it, rereads it with a more savvy and uncertain lens, with paradox. Themes of female sexuality, of desire, of deception (self and other), of (dis)connection, of still-present pasts, permeate this collection. No one escapes his/her history or historical contexts; individuals’ lives do not play out in a vacuum; generations are different, but it’s still complicated an ...more
Emily January
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alice Munro is second to none!
2.5 stars.

After really liking Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (my first brush with Alice Munro) I was curious to read more. That collection stories made me think it would be good to revisit in the future.

This collection was pretty disappointing.

by the last three stories I was rolling my eyes at the last sentence of each one. These felt As if the author was working through a checklist. a writer, a woman, and infidelity (real- or fantasized), a divorce, canada, glory days, a (f
Mar 30, 2014 rated it liked it
This book has been in my bookcase, unread, for over two decades and Ms. Munro's recent Nobel Prize win prompted me to finally open it. I found a collection of surprisingly earthy, sexual and sometimes disturbing —but believable—tales of the everyday lives of farm and small town residents in Ontario. Munro was pushing 60 when she wrote these stories but these are not the tea-cozy tales of an impending retiree. For the most part her language is incisive, astringent and rarely superfluous. Virtuall ...more
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before Alice Munro had won the Nobel Prize in literature I hadn't read anything by her. I'd only seen her name in passing. Also I've not been in the habit of reading short stories since I was an English major. My love for reading short stories have been rekindled with this collection. I plan to read more of her story collections.

I chose Friend of My Youth not expecting to really relate to any of the stories or really care about the characters since I read that Munro writes about ordinary Canadi
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I remember first reading Alice Munro a number of years ago and, quite apart from the long searching task of merits being enlarged and made single and countable, being just overwhelmed by the nearness of the reading experience in a way I hadn’t been before. Different collections, though, can do different things. Friend of My Youth, because of its careful lengths and its doubled permission to allow the mundane its earned enlargement, reproduces, or rather produces, that first-second nearness and a ...more
Corinne Wasilewski
Alice Munro -- master of the short story, winner of the Nobel -- why did these stories leave me stone cold? Could it be that I'm not much into the politics of sex and how they play out between lovers, husbands and wives, and best friends? No. That's a theme with universal appeal. And the writing is seamless -- I have no issue there. The problem is, once you peel off the paper and ribbon, there's no soul underneath. These stories are written with a dispassionate eye that mostly skims the surface. ...more
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How is it possible I have been able to overlook Alice Munro for so long? Looking back, each story was equally strong and memorable which is hard to come by in in a collection of short stories. I have been meaning to read more collections, and part of me feels as if it was a mistake to begin with Munro because anything else may feel weak by comparison. Which Munro should I read next??
Orla Hegarty
Ms. Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. I had read her before then but now wish to consume way more of her (perfect?) work.
Alexandra Santos
Gorgeous and dark. This collection is heavily focused on infidelity and identity and self-hood within romantic relationships. I've got 4 more Alice Munro books to read but I think I'll have to take them slow - Munro cuts human nature to the quick and sometimes I just don't want to think about the emotional brutalities we commit in our search for happiness.
John Newcomb
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
WHen I first read Chekhov short stories I thought they were often profound. I then discovered Katherine Mansfield and thought that her stories opened the soul. Alice Munro paints her life enhancing tales on a small stage (usually Upper Ontario or British Columbia) during a specific period of time (usually between the 1930s to 1980s) and almost always from the view of a fem,ale protaganist. Yet within these parameters she explores the whole depth of human experience and emotions with a wisdom and ...more
Victor Carson
Nov 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I found this collection of short stories while looking for Alice Munro's new collection, which was just released this month. The stories in Friend of My Youth were copyrighted in 1990. I have read many of the author's stories but I continue to be mesmerized by her ability to reveal her characters so well that you feel sure that each of the stories really happened. A critic might say that the stories lack artistic unity and fail to leave the reader with an overall impression or a central idea. It ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book where every short story is so big and heavy that i needed two days break afterwards. The proze is amazing, there are even one sentence stories and novels. My favourite was Oranges and Apples.
Bennison Smith
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These ten stories stand as testament to Munro's winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature a few years back. These stories cannot be skimmed or read quickly; there is so much care put into every word which appears on the page. I look forward to reading more of Munro's short stories soon.
The experiences of Munro's characters in this collection are pretty well removed from my own. Most are women in their 50s or so, looking back on young marriages in the 50s, affairs and divorces in the 60s or 70s, visiting old friends or acquaintances after or during deaths of parents.

That said, what Munro does without fail in every story of hers I've read is capture the universal feeling of fear and excitement as your life changes and transforms, and the scarier feeling of realizing that there'
Andy Miller
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy reading Alice Munro collections from different times of her life, there is a difference in perspective and subject. This collection was published in 1990.

The title story, Friend of My Youth, is an example. While Munro's later stories often focus on reminscences of a narrator in her later years, this narrative is based on a story from a the narrator's mother about a year the mother spent teaching n a rural community and boarding with a Cameronian (a Mennonite type of religion that forbade
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As is typical for Alice, she does not give much away in these stories; she leaves it to her reader to find emotion and empathy. But with this collection, Alice is a bit more generous with narrative and circumstance. Her characters are amplified and their stories are rich and full. Still, you can't help but wonder, what propels these people to make the decisions they do? I think in most cases no decision is really made; making a decision requires having options. The women in these stories grow up ...more
"Not my cup of tea" was perhaps the only opinion I had of this book. It started out so promising with the first two stories that I hoped it would continue in the same spirit. After that however the stories grew more monotonous and repetitive for me. I think it's more a matter of the audience. Being a child of immigrants who wasn't born in Canada either and grew up with a Euro-centric upbringing, I had a hard time with these stories because they began to bleed into each other and cause me to doze ...more
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Whoa! What's going on here? I guess I have been out of school too long because I had forgotten about the ridiculousness of short stories. Each little story, no longer than a chapter, starts developing nicely and then ends mid-sentence, with no resolution and often no conflict, plot or any other literary convention. The themes include death, infidelity and the general malaise of some depressing middle-aged folks. Each 'story' I read in this book left me stunned, gaping at the page break, wonderin ...more
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1992 notebook: Fantastic. Particularly Five Points with the salt mine and the dead machinery entombed there - below the lake. The shop with the Polish girl who paid men to have sex with her and the walk along the road high heel-less; and Wigtime - the school friend who married the lecherous bus driver and banished his mysterious wife. Lovely, lovely stuff.
Dec 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Alice Munro is a good writer, with powerful style. What I admire in her stories is the tension, the way she knows to push it and keep it especially when it seems to be fading in the details.
However, I admit, her fave subjects are not of maximum interest for me: realtions, family, mariage, adultery, illness, singleness.
Alice is going back on the shelf for the time being. I had pulled her down to the current reading chair table when the Nobel prize was announced.

These short stories are captivating in style if, for me, not entirely in substance. Or vice versa. Some of each.

There are a two more of her books/collections I want to delve into soon. The I think I'll be better prepared to offering a star rating.
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the thirteenth Alice Munro book I've read. There are so many things I love about her work, but one that just occurred to me is that although she is so penetrating—she sees through so much, has such wisdom about human peccadilloes and deceptions—she also writes about people with such love, tenderness, and respect.
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Lectores Chapines: LIbro de Mayo: Amistad de juventud 2 14 May 30, 2014 01:54AM  
Literautas: Amistad de Juventud (marzo - mayo 2014) 1 35 Mar 14, 2014 03:19AM  

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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
“People are curious. A few people are. ... They will put things together, knowing all along that they may be mistaken. You see them going around with notebooks, scraping the dirt off gravestones, reading microfilm, just in the hope of seeing this trickle in time, making a connection, rescuing one thing from the rubbish.” 55 likes
“Her silent singing wrapped around the story she was telling herself, which she extended further every night on the deck. (Averill often told herself stories-- the activity seemed to her as unavoidable as dreaming.) Her singing was a barrier set between the world in her head and the world outside, between her body and the onslaught of the stars.” 2 likes
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