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Friend of My Youth

(Irish Independent Lifetime Reads #16)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  4,507 ratings  ·  411 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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Raul Bimenyimana
Alice Munro at this point is a favourite. One of the writers –like Morrison, Baldwin, Proust, Tolstoy, Woolf among others, I can always expect to leave me marvelled, impressed and feeling a sense of loss parting with her work.

This collection of short stories was no different. Ten stories, each exploring the past, showing that the past isn't always some far-off place we can easily look back on, as though it's an antique object we raise and peer at, but also an ever-present and even intrusive part
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
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
I must have read this more than 10 years ago, but as I re-read these short stories, I wasn't surprised to find that I easily remembered each and everyone. They all came back with overtones of my earlier reading in comparison to how I was responding to them now. The book of course hasn't changed - what has changed is me, and I suppose my reading requirements. I remember reading these stories with a kind of squeamish satisfaction - similar to when you pass an accident, driving slowly to absorb the ...more
Jennifer (formerly Eccentric Muse)
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
Megan Baxter
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Alice Munro's short stories are always a delight to read, and Friend of My Youth is no exception. In almost every collection of hers I have read, there is a line or two of description that makes me start out of my chair and realize, yes, that perfectly describes something I have been feeling.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smor
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 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Fran Lebowitz on Toni Morrison: “She’s one of my best friends, and she is the only wise person I’ve ever known. I know lots of very smart people, but I only know one wise person.” I listened to Fran say this a while ago now, but it stuck. There are very intelligent writers, who craft these stories and novels packed with strong feelings of empathy and compassion for how and why people behave, and live, as they do. There are masterful works, humanist or not, formally inventive and innovative, by b ...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
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! ...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. ...more
snackywombat (v.m.)
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
A good collection of ten engaging short stories about ordinary people. I liked all the stories. The characters are concisely described. The events in each story are simple and interesting. For example, a widow visits where her husband stayed in Scotland during the war and catches up with the characters he associated with. A woman escapes from a difficult marriage only to find herself in an equally difficult affair. A number of the stories are about characters reflecting on their teenage years an ...more
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Although academics have made a career from the oeuvre of Alice Munro - AM: Paradox and Parallel; AM: Art and Gender; AM: writing her lives; AM: Mothers and Other Clowns; etc etc etc.... - she does not need to be laboured over. In the case of this book, take short story writer Alan Beard's five line review. A line for each star. I agree. It's an especially good collection.

Rather than elaborate unnecessarily on that, I am merely going to note that I more or less found myself on the page in the sto
Sep 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Just loved this! Another queen of the short story to add to my forever reading list.
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
George K. Ilsley
Happy to tag this as read — I'm always going to be reading Alice Munro.

I had a grand plan of reading Alice Munro's work in order of publication date. I did start at the beginning, and read her first book, and I skipped around this book, since I am too wild to read short stories in order. So I did read this one, too, and reread some of it.

My grand plan is never going to happy. Newer books call to me, from other authors and Alice too. But I just have to say: I love Alice Munro!! ❤️
Preston Scott Blakeley
Very psychosexual
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.
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great portraits of humanity. I love Munro! Her characters are unexpected, interesting, empathic, and wonderful. I love her. Very recommended.
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
Emily January
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alice Munro is second to none!
Infada Spain
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Excellent example of short story (and my favourite) was the one titled Hold me fast, Don't let me Pass.
Ruby Jusoh
Jan 18, 2022 rated it it was amazing
(Reflection) My first Munro. The short stories are astoundingly affecting. Like... I was shooketh. Her flow is unpredictable, her words are intimate, a sort of monologue. The stories might have been set in Canada but oh they feel so real and close to our hearts.
📗 Friends of My Youth by Alice Munro
Her tales appear to be simple on the surface. Stories of everyday people going about their lives. But intense emotions linger continously and I was caught surprised page after page. The first story i
Luna Claire
Sep 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading story collections. It's a special art form to create character and story in a small compact and yet powerful format. Munro is brilliant, and a master. ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book took me to another space each time I started reading one of it’s stories,the feminine nature of the characters were so tangible I felt that I had lived them before.
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
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
Naleendra Weerapitiya
Jan 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Friend of my youth: The story that gave the name to the book is vintage Munro. Reminiscing on a time when Canada was much backward, conservative, and religious, the story touches on two main themes. How a daughter misses her mother - long deceased, and how some people simply don't open up, however much long a time they've been closely associating. That conservative Canada's view on sex may have played its part is clear.

Five points: This story runs through two parallels - a woman, the level she w
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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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Irish Independent Lifetime Reads (2 books)
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