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Dear Life

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Suffused with Munro's clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these tales about departures and beginnings, accidents and dangers, and outgoings and homecomings both imagined and real, paint a radiant, indelible portrait of how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be.

Alice Munro's peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but always spacious and timeless stories is once again everywhere apparent in this brilliant new collection. In story after story, she illumines the moment a life is forever altered by a chance encounter or an action not taken, or by a simple twist of fate that turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into a new way of being or thinking. A poet, finding herself in alien territory at her first literary party, is rescued by a seasoned newspaper columnist, and is soon hurtling across the continent, young child in tow, toward a hoped-for but completely unplanned meeting. A young soldier, returning to his fiancée from the Second World War, steps off the train before his stop and onto the farm of another woman, beginning a life on the move. A wealthy young woman having an affair with the married lawyer hired by her father to handle his estate comes up with a surprising way to deal with the blackmailer who finds them out.

While most of these stories take place in Munro's home territory - the small Canadian towns around Lake Huron - the characters sometimes venture to the cities, and the book ends with four pieces set in the area where she grew up, and in the time of her own childhood: stories "autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact." A girl who can't sleep imagines night after wakeful night that she kills her beloved younger sister. A mother snatches up her child and runs for dear life when a crazy woman comes into her yard.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Alice Munro

201 books5,663 followers
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 Literature.

(Arabic: أليس مونرو)
(Persian: آلیس مانرو)
(Russian Cyrillic: Элис Манро)
(Ukrainian Cyrillic: Еліс Манро)
(Bulgarian Cyrillic: Алис Мънро)
(Slovak: Alice Munroová)
(Serbian: Alis Manro)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,189 reviews
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.7k followers
February 12, 2014
I had never read any Alice Munro, and I find it's difficult to say anything sensible about her. Obviously, the stories are very good. (She just won the Nobel Prize. Duh). But what's most impressive is that she doesn't seem to be doing anything in particular. With some writers, it's easy to understand why they're so highly regarded. Take Vladimir Nabokov. I look at his brilliantly constructed sentences, his cleverly ambiguous allusions, his breathtakingly unexpected metaphors, and I sigh: ah, I wish I could do that too. I know perfectly well that I can't; I don't have the necessary technical skills. But Munro isn't showy. She seems to be telling me ordinary stories about ordinary people, written in an ordinary language. They don't require concentration to read. But each one is perfectly balanced, and somehow they end up grabbing me by the heart and forcing me to reflect on universal themes of human nature: how people are unfaithful, how they lie to their loved ones, how they are unable to act at a critical moment and spend the rest of their lives wondering why not, how their memories don't quite match up.

I'm currently reading a lot of science books, so perhaps it's natural that I'm reminded of a story about Einstein and Hubble. Some time in the 30s, Einstein and his wife visited Hubble, the most distinguished astronomer of the time. They were taken to see the hundred-inch telescope, a current miracle of advanced technology.

"What do you do with it?" asked Mrs. Einstein.

"I use it to discover the secrets of the universe," replied Hubble.

"Oh!" said Mrs. Einstein dismissively. "My husband does that on the back of an old envelope."
Profile Image for Nicholas Sparks.
Author 441 books224k followers
January 13, 2016
This new collection pinpoints the moment a person is forever altered by a chance encounter, an action not taken or a simple twist of fate. These are terrific stories by an amazing talent, a writer so good I learn something new with every story.
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,119 reviews3,976 followers
May 30, 2022
Pivotal moments

I read this at the end of 2019, but am reviewing on the first day of 2020: a day for looking back and forward, for considering who and where we are, and who and where we want to be.

If I was going to write short pieces about just four incidents my life, what would I pick? The more I thought about it, the more I realised, like Munro, that it’s not the obvious headline events (graduation, marriage, parenthood, bereavement etc). Often, it’s something seemingly trivial that shapes and changes us and the direction we’re going. Mine would probably be from this list:

• Chickening out of applying for: French exchange, to be a Camp America counsellor, and for an undergraduate course at the University of Cambridge.
• My first time being drunk (plied with overly-strong drinks), aged 17, and narrowly escaping harmful consequences, thanks to my best friend.
• Leaving a teaching “career”, without finishing my probationary year, without any idea of what I wanted to do instead.
• Fighting doctors to get a compromise on feeding and treating my newborn.
• Attending the civil partnership ceremony of my father and his partner.
• Supporting my child, from a distance, through major health and mental health issues at uni (they came through, with a master’s).
• Skimming an article about the potential of book-blogging sites, way back in 2008...

Image: Me, aged 19. How different is my life now from what I expected then?

Fiction – and not

This book has ten understated stories, and four autobiographical pieces. The loosely connecting theme is girls and women breaking free from accumulated regret, though not all the main protagonists are female. Several stories include the loss of (or fear of losing) a child. What is unsaid is often crucial. Acts of omission lead to acts of commission. The language is plain and apparently simple, but always evocative, and firmly conjuring time (varied) and place (SE Canada). Some have a twist.

What’s strange is that the autobiographical pieces were much less engaging than the preceding fictions: less realistic and more dream-like.

The stories - no spoilers

1. To Reach Japan 2*
A train journey demonstrates the importance of being meaningfully present in one’s child’s life. I was confused by the opening page, and the big plot point in the middle was nasty (which I don't necessarily mind!) and implausible (which I do mind - there was no plausible motivation).

2. Amundsen 4*
Another train journey, another disorienting start - but in a captivating way. It’s cold: the region, the sanitorium, its chief doctor, and a visit to a house with “a suggestion of minimal but precise comfort”. I would have given 5*, but the final line (not a spoiler) didn’t ring true for the character or her story, “Nothing changes really about love”.

3. Leaving Maverley 5*
A girl from cultish sect works at small town cinema, but can’t watch or even hear the films. I thought I knew where Leah’s story was going, but without any big twists or shocks, Munro kept sidestepping the obvious. It’s all about what’s unsaid, unseen, undone.

4. Gravel 5*
Accept everything and then tragedy disappears.
This is about being haunted by loss, not discussing events, and choosing to forget - not an approach I recommend. Gravel, water, and a dog are significant.

5. Haven 4*
A 13-year old girl year spends a year in the mid ‘70s with her uncle and aunt, while her parents teach in Ghana. She’s initially shocked by her aunt’s deferential domestic role, “making a haven for her man”. Initially.

6. Pride 4*
Some rise up despite early setbacks, while others keep digging. The narrator is a man, who is possibly asexual - or maybe assumed to be so, by himself and others, because of his hare lip. Pride is an impediment, more for others than him. There is no ending. Nothing is said. It stops.

7. Corrie 5*
A story of blackmail, but all is not what it seems.

8. Train 5*
A soldier returns from the war, but to what and whom? He jumps off the train, walks back along the tracks, and drifts, unobtrusively, in and out of lives - his and others. He wants:
A different block of air… emptiness” but gets:
An immediate flock of new surroundings, asking for your attention”.
Trains are key at a couple of other points as well. Also, this is another character who is probably asexual, which I may not have noticed had not a GR friend commented about the near invisibility of asexual characters in literature.

9. In Sight of the Lake 4* or 3*
There are wonderful descriptions of driving and walking through a small Canadian town, through the eyes of an old woman who fears losing her memory. It brought to mind Rebecca Solnit’s brilliant A Field Guide to Getting Lost (see my review HERE). But ultimately, this is an unsatisfying cliché.

10. Dolly 4* or 3*
This starts with an ageing couple considering double suicide in very pragmatic terms. Fitting the theme of things going unsaid, they don’t plan to write a note - and she is a biographer of “forgotten novelists”. But things happen. As one of them says, “Life is totally unpredictable”.

The autobiographical pieces

The final four works in this book are not quite stories. They form a separate unit, one that is autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact. I believe they are the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life.

Image: The Munro family home in Wingham, Ontario (Source.)

The Munros lived “out of town but not really in the country... It was not like the real country, where people usually know the insides of one another’s houses and everybody had more or less the same way of making a living.
They were neither rich nor poor. Not entirely happy, but not dysfunctional either. Her parents were from different backgrounds, with different aspirations and popularity. No wonder she grew up such an astute observer.

11. The Eye 4*
I began to accept how largely my mother’s notions about me might differ from my own.
Munro’s delicate and slightly awkward relationship with her mother is demonstrated when she was 5 and her brother was born, quickly followed by another baby. There’s an au pair, a wake, and a child's overactive imagination.

12. Night 3*
After being rushed to hospital with appendicitis by horses (because of a snowstorm), Munro has sleep problems and murderous thoughts, doubtless exacerbated by - you guessed - something important but unsaid. Her father reassures her, but still without telling her everything.
The truth was told with only the slightest modification.

13. Voices 3*
Munro honestly confronts the inaccuracy of memories, exacerbated by people deliberately turning a blind eye to unsavoury things and people. The title refers to airmen at a party, who were probably British and she remembers as seeming kind, gentle, and blessed.

14. Dear Life 2*
Ramblings combining observations of her mother’s deterioration from Parkinson’s and a possible attempted babysnatch, long ago.


• “She carried not noticing to an extreme.”

• “Writing this letter is like putting a note in a bottle -
And hoping
It will reach Japan.”

• “Small untidy evergreens rolled up like sleepy bears. The frozen lake not level but mounded… as if the waves had turned to ice in the act of falling.”

• “A dry-lipped kiss, brief and formal, set upon me with hasty authority.”

• “Her smile… seemed to shower him with delight.”

• “He nearly always gave approval, but with qualifications.”

• “Haul it [laundry] in when it was dry and smelling all fresh and congratulatory.”
Profile Image for Rowena.
500 reviews2,470 followers
January 19, 2014
I’m always careful not to fall victim to popular opinion when reading any book, especially one by such an acclaimed and beloved writer as Alice Munro. I tried to forget the fact that Munro had only recently won the Nobel prize for fiction. This is only my second Munro so maybe I’m not the best judge of her work but I did find this collection very enjoyable.

I find that with Munro it’s the little details. Her stories are everyday stories of everyday people living mainly in small-town Canada, people we probably don’t expect to read about in books. Whether she is exploring the thoughts of a little child, an inexperienced university graduate, or an unsatisfied housewife, she does so expertly. I found myself engaged by the stories, stories that I found to be very believable, as well as very sad in most cases. I also enjoyed her stories set in post-war Canada, a very different Canada from the one I live in now.

Munro definitely writes with much clarity. People often comment on her well-crafted sentences and I won’t argue with that. What I love most of all is her insight into human relationships.
I enjoyed the last few stories that were supposedly autobiographical. Very nostalgic. It’s very fitting that this book is called “Dear Life.”

I felt quite sad when I turned the last page knowing this is supposedly the last book she will ever write.

“So still, so immense an enchantment.”

— Alice Munro, Dear Life
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,056 reviews1,863 followers
October 10, 2020
Story 1: To Reach Japan
A story about a woman who's determined to have an affair.

Now, I don't condone affairs. But sometimes I can understand them, e.g. Addicted by Zane. But here, no reason is given for Greta cheating. And it doesn't seem to matter who she's cheating with: any available and interested man will do. So it's not “love” affairs she's having.

My educated guess about why Greta is cheating on her husband is that she's bored. She's a poet who works from home and she has a small child.

The first guy she becomes enamored with is a journalist who takes her home when she becomes drunk at a party. In the car, they're talking and he says this:

"Excuse me for sounding how I did. I was thinking whether I would or wouldn't kiss you and I decided I wouldn't."

What an asshole! Not because, as Greta thinks, he's judging her “un-kiss-worthy” but because there is a drunk, married woman in his car and he's seeing her in a sexual way. What a jerk. What makes you think she wants to be kissed by you??!? How big of a creep are you to offer to drive a woman home from a party when she's drunk and then contemplate whether you should take advantage of her or not?!?! Also, she's married, you prick.

Unfortunately, Greta shares none of my compunctions about his behavior and starts daydreaming about the man constantly for a year. Then she writes him a letter of poetry and stuff and sends it to his work. WTF?!!?

Later, she enters affair number two. This is when her daughter Katy and herself are traveling to Toronto to live without her husband for a month because her husband is leaving the country. This actor is on the train, a play actor, and she describes him as “a boy” so I'm thinking he's at least 10 years younger than her. He entertains all the children on the train, and at the end of the day they start drinking, flirting, and touching. It's obvious to me by now that it doesn't matter who the frick the man is, she is just going after anyone with a penis – except her husband, I guess.

This conversation happens:

GRETA: "I haven't got any - " (condoms)
GREG: "I have."
GRETA: "Not on you?"
GREG: "Certainly not. What kind of beast do you think I am?"

Oh, I don't know.. THE KIND OF BEAST WHO PROPOSITIONS A MARRIED WOMAN RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER SLEEPING CHILD!?!?!!?!? I mean, her child is curled up sleeping right there. Classy. <---sarcasm

So she leaves her child, ALONE, and goes to Greg's compartment to have sex with him.

Then, after their finished having sex, she tells him she has to go back to her compartment. And he says:

""Okay. Okay. I should get ready for Saskatoon anyway. What if we'd got there just in the middle of it? Hello Mom. Hello Daddy. Excuse me just a minute here while I -Wa - hoo!"

*blink blink
What. A. Moron. Seriously. THIS is who you choose to have an affair with? This guy!?!? Incredible.

So she goes back to her compartment to find Katy is missing. She freaks out. Later she finds Katy, unharmed, who says she went to look for Mommy. Greta is feeling very guilty and shameful and as if Katy going missing was “punishment” for Greta having sex with Greg.

Then, in the final twist,

This story left me pretty cold. I couldn't understand Greta or her motivations. She made bad choices, and I didn't even understand why. I was just annoyed with her for the whole story.

Story #2: Amundsen
A woman goes to a tuberculosis hospital to be a teacher. There is a doctor there who is an asshole. He's rude to everyone, even the children that adore him. For some reason, the woman starts to date him. He says mean things to her and to a little child. Next thing you know, she's having sex with him. He's still an asshole. He promises to marry her. But after a few months, and a “let's drive to Huntsville to get married” it turns out that it's “let's drive to Huntsville so I can put you on a train back to Toronto like all the other women I fucked and then discarded.” I have no sympathy for the main character. None. The doctor acted like a complete dick right in front of her numerous times, and she didn't say anything. He humiliated a little girl, calling her fat and mocking her – right in front of the MC, who didn't defend the child or stop dating him or anything. She just lets this guy use her and also lets him treat her and other people like crap.

While I think it is, of course, the asshole's fault for being an asshole, it's also her responsibility to say something when he's being mean and rude (especially to a child!) in front of her. I have no respect for a woman who just lets a man walk all over her like that. Grow some ovaries, woman! And it should be no surprise to her that if he has no respect for anyone, that he will eventually be rude and disrespectful to her, too.

Stories 3-7 So boring they are not even worth talking about.

Story #8: Train
This was a long story. I liked reading about the woman, Belle, living in abject poverty. But then Munro had to go and ruin everything by putting a weird sexual abuse undertone to the whole thing and it was disgusting. Also, nothing much happens in this story.

Story #9: In Sight of the Lake
This was actually a pretty good story, about an old woman who's going senile. Best story in the collection.

Story #10: Dolly
This was a pretty good story about the evils of Facebook. I mean, she doesn't use those terms, but that's what I got out of it. How dangerous it is to have ex-lovers come back into your life.

Story #11: The Eye

Story #12: Night
There is a really good passage in here about evil thoughts.

Story #13: Voices

Story #14: Dear Life

Roly Grain, his name was, and he does not have any further part in what I'm writing now, because this is not a story, only life.”

This above quote, from Munro's last story, pretty much sums up the whole book. It's as if she were saying: “I'm sorry that these stories are so boring, but I must remind you they are LIFE. I will leave anything faintly interesting out of these stories because I want them to be REAL and TRUE and BORING just like life is. Not fiction, you know, which actually makes things interesting.” Uh-huh. Thanks but no thanks, Ms. Munro.

I can't believe how much fuss is made over this author. She writes, in general, about asshole men who run roughshod over their women and women who are so passive and invertebrate that it seems that they only do not CARE about being dominated, they don't even realize they ARE being dominated. It's as if they are completely passive. With no thoughts or agency of their own.

P.S. Like Flannery O'Connor Lite - a good way to describe this book.

P.P.S. 9 out of 10 people in my book club did not enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Guille.
757 reviews1,553 followers
May 11, 2023

La obra se divide en dos partes. La primera consta de diez relatos de desigual resultado. La segunda son cuatro textos autobiográficos (“Creo que es lo primero y lo último — y lo más íntimo — de cuanto tengo que decir sobre mi propia vida”).

Los primeros cinco mantienen la excepcional calidad con la que la autora me tiene tan mal acostumbrado.

Una mujer abandona su confortable vida de casada por un hombre con el que apenas compartió unas horas en una fiesta, tiempo suficiente para que naciera en ella una “obsesión inútil, extenuante y estúpida” (“Sus comentarios parecían inteligentes pero eso a ella no le importaba”, de “Llegar a Japón”); una profesora se pliega de una forma desconcertante al comportamiento frío y autoritario de su jefe, el médico de una clínica de tuberculosos, con el que tiene su primera experiencia sentimental y sexual (“Mi pasión quizá fuera una sorpresa para ambos. La imaginación resultó ser, a fin de cuentas, una escuela tan buena como la experiencia”, de “Amundsen”); una joven nacida y criada en la más estricta ortodoxia religiosa abandona el hogar por un saxofonista, no será la única vez que sorprenda con su comportamiento (“Voy tirando, pero a veces las cosas me pesan. Sobre todo a la hora de la cena. Ahí es cuando me siento rara… me refiero a estar sin los niños y todo eso”, de “Irse de Maverley”); otra mujer aburrida de su matrimonio, otro abandono de hogar, dos hijas, una de ellas no soportará la separación (“A mi madre no se le puede recordar nada de aquellos tiempos y procuro no disgustarla… Todo ese destripamiento que se hace en las familias hoy en día me parece un error”, de “Grava”); una adolescente observa la vida aparentemente feliz que lleva su tía completamente sometida a los deseos de su marido, un ser asocial y huraño (“«La misión más importante de una mujer es construir un santuario para su marido.» Creo que de hecho el comentario no lo hizo mi tía. Evitaba esa clase de pronunciamientos. Quizá lo leí en una de las revistas para amas de casa que había por allí. Revistas que a mi madre la hubieran asqueado”, de “Santuario”).

“Corrie” y “A la vista del lago” son relatos que, pienso, no están a la altura de Munro, con uno de esos finales sorpresas nada habituales en ella (“La gente siempre decía que el pueblo estaba muerto, pero en realidad cuando había un funeral era cuando más se animaba”). “Dolly” me gustó algo más, pero tampoco creo que alcance la maestría de los cinco primeros (“¿Quién es capaz de hacerle al poeta el comentario perfecto sobre su poesía? Sin pasarse ni quedarse corto, simplemente lo justo”).

Pero mi preferido es curiosamente justo el único que protagoniza un hombre, “Tren” (“Jackson sabía que los libros existían porque alguien se sentaba a escribirlos, que no salían de la nada. La cuestión era qué les movía a escribirlos, con tantos, tantísimos libros como había en el mundo”). Algo pasó en la infancia de Jackson que le obliga a huir de las relaciones sentimentales, que le impide establecer vínculos personales, que le empuja a estar siempre ocupado en algo.

La segunda parte, la autobiográfica, lo siento, pero me ha parecido poco más que un relleno… y es que me tiene muy mal acostumbrado esta Munro.
Profile Image for Kalliope.
691 reviews22 followers
January 29, 2015


It is reassuring to see that the Nobel Prize for literature went recently to someone who writes so clearly and so unpretentiously.

I am not much of a reader of short stories. Shifting from one to the next is always anticlimactic. And often their being grouped in one particular volume is also contrived. This is the case with this collectioin. Most of these stories were first published at different dates in various literary magazines (Granta, Harper’s, Tin House...).

The settings are very localized, very Canadian, and yet they are not. The situations and their plots seem easily transferable to other places: they present an individual dealing with whatever life has put on (mostly) her tray. Without much ado, these stories pay homage to the arbitrariness we have to deal with, daily.

While reading them I strangely reminded of the photographic work by Walker Evans. Yes, I know, a different country, and from a narrower time frame, the Depression from the 30s in the US. But both, them and Munro, explore that subtle line that divides life from representation, or the old dichotomy of Nature versus Art. In their Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Evans and James Agee presented their documentary work on how a section of the US population lived. They were contracted to record and collect evidence of real people in their real lives in their real surroundings. But now their book, with the photos and the text, is considered a work of creativity.

As I followed Munro’s collection, I could from feel already from the first stories, that there was an autobiographical tint to them. They all had a personal quality. I was then surprised and not surprised, when just before the last four, grouped as FINALE, Munro warns the reader that these four stories are not such. They are not fiction, but have to be considered as autobiographical writings. And in these we read:

I think that if I was writing fiction instead of remembering something that happened, I would never have given her that dress. A kind of advertisement she didn’t need. (Voices)

.. he does not have any further part in what I’m writing now, in spite of his troll’s name, because this is not a story, only life. (Dear Life).

Without Munro’s warning, I would not have felt that these last stories, even though childhood memories predominate in them, were closer to reality than the previous ones. Her accounts of the familiar and the ordinary, with her observations and her descriptions, are all her creations, her inventions. But they are rendered in such transparent language that any sense of contrivance, of artifice, of fiction is not detectable.

Her pristine language approaches us very closely to her pristine and dear view of Life.

Dear writing indeed.

Profile Image for Fionnuala.
779 reviews
November 15, 2019

Dear Alice,

What a good investment you've turned out to be.
A little girl growing up in rural Canada in the early twentieth century, far from the turmoil experienced by your contemporaries in Europe, you nevertheless created several lifetimes’ worth of unique stories from the limited resources you were given.

I watched while you observed every detail of your rural existence, filing away images and experiences for future use like some Canadian Picasso accumulating a studio full of junk, which one fine day when the light is right allows the bonnet of a toy car to become a baboon’s wide grin, a football to become its body, and a tennis ball its baby's head.

You've recycled everything that came your way. The ringlets your mother slaved over, your early piano lessons, your first viewing of a dead body, that story you read in the newspaper, the plot of the first novel you read, your neighbour’s failed marriage, your elderly aunt’s eccentric life, your own experiences of illness, every useful thing has been reused.

And as with Picasso, each new work that emerges from the mountain of stored experiences startles by its novelty, by its ability to veer off towards new and unexpected directions, by its real and frequently shocking truth.

You have used what you have been given very well, Alice.
You have earned your prize.

Yours very sincerely,

Profile Image for Jaidee.
583 reviews1,118 followers
May 26, 2019
3 "extremely memorable" stars !!

I am writing this at 245 a.m. and we are at our cottage on Lake Huron and it was my favorite kind of day and evening and night and the spirit of Alice Munro was everywhere today. My partner spent a small time in his childhood in the town of Wingham Ontario (this is where Alice Munro grew up)and we had dinner there with his sister who lives very close to Clinton Ontario where Alice Munro currently lives. They are both ardent fans and I relished their discussion as they conversed on the art of Alice and their favorite stories by her.

It was very romantic and stormy and cool when we returned to our cottage and we went for a three hour walk along the beach and into forest and I understood why I love Ontario so darn much even though I am the son of immigrant parents from the Mediterranean. Ontario is so fresh, plentiful, and beautiful. Outside of the cesspool of Toronto lies so much green and I was filled with so much gratitude to be living in this wonderful province.

After our walk my partner asked about my experience of Dear Life and I am ashamed to say that this is the first Alice I've read. I really loved two of the stories (4.5 stars) and very much liked two others (4 stars). In his generous way he offered to read them to me on the porch and I was lulled by his rich and sonorous baritone. The wondrousness of Alice shone through as well as the effects of three glasses of Riesling.

I will simply make a brief statement on each of the stories and I feel rather foolish especially around the stories I didn't particularly care for. To even state these minor opinions of mine especially after so many esteemed individuals have honoured her in a multitude of ways. However, I need to be true to the self and in fact the stories that were mediocre made the ones that I loved even more wonderful especially after I heard them recited by my partner.

Here goes:

Japan - 4 stars

A story about how we barely understand ourselves and there are perpetual shifts in our emotions, desires and ways of being in the world.

Amunsden- 4 stars

A young teacher abandoned by her older lover in a northern Ontario town at the end of World War 2....sad, uncertain, powerless

Leaving Maverly- 3.5 stars

A story about the seemingly random connections of acquaintances and the significant impact they can have on our lives.

Gravel - 3 stars

Looking back on a family tragedy with adult eyes.

Haven- 2.5 stars

A middling story about a horribly controlling man and his pathetic little wife.

Pride - 4.5 stars (fave in collection)

A platonic love story between a disfigured man and a downwardly wealthy woman. Beautifully rendered and poignant.

Corrie - 4.5 stars (second fave in collection)

Stolen love can be so expensive and devastating. Can one ever recover?

Train- 3.5 stars

The lonely wandering life of an abused soldier.

In Sight of the Lake- 2.5 stars

A not so successful story about dementia.

Dolly - 2 stars

An elderly couple behaving immaturely. This one was dull and unbelievable to me.

The eye - 3.5 stars

A five year old girl's first experience with death.

Night - 3 stars

A young teenage girl struggles with insomnia and obsessive thoughts after surgery.

Voices - 3 stars

A young girl discovers the ways of adults particularly young men.

Dear Life - 3 stars

Reflections on a life.

Who knew 3 stars could be so damn good? Goodnight I must sleep.
Profile Image for Ty.
Author 13 books28 followers
September 4, 2016
I'm a writer myself, and within the last two years or so have begun to concentrate a bit more on writing short fiction.

To write is to read, as they say, and I have made an effort to read more short fiction. Many people, from members of my writing group, to lecturers I've listened to, to writers of articles on the subject I have read have advised the same thing; read Alice Munro.

"Perfect. Masterful. Genius. Epitome of what a short story should be today." All of these are accolades heaped upon Munro and her work. So when I was at the library two weeks ago I figured it was time to sample her work. It almost seemed like my duty as a writer to partake in some of her fiction.

Perhaps it was a mistake to start with her latest collection, published just last year, but my conclusion about her thus far is that she has been oversold to me.

The writing in this collection is solid, intelligent writing, I will say. That is actually part of the problem. I got the impression it was written by an author that has a reputation, and was trying to uphold it. A reputation that, as I said, I am not sure is deserved based on these stories.

Any writer who has been flummoxed by constant advice to "show and not tell" should take comfort; 90% of what Munro does in these stories is tell. In flashback, in digression, in speculation. Pages upon pages of, "The character went through this and this and when younger saw this, and met X and did why. It was discussed at some point that she should do thus and so, and though she desired so and thus, thus and so won out. And this made her depressed. So depressed that she had taken up the habit of drinking..."

Eventually, in some cases, that sort of telling led to something relevant in the "present" of the story. (Though tense and time frame were fluid to a distracting degree sometimes.) Her brand is simplicity, and perhaps she does write in a simple way...but one can take forever to get somewhere, even if the forever is written in simple language, and I found myself saying, "what is the point?"

Naturally, literature is more about language than about character or plot, many will say. Let's stipulate that. That being the case, the language itself needs to either inspire sweeping visuals or move the reader in some transcendent way. The prose here does neither.

Perhaps one reason it doesn't do so is the depressing nature of the stories. I figured when I started there was one or two in every collection. But too many of the stories are about depressing things happening to unsatisfied and unlikable people in nondescript settings. (Most of which were very much Canadian...so much so it almost seems one needs to have grown up in Canada to catch on to any of the nuance presented.) I understand it isn't the job of a writer to always make people happy, but the writing is so distant, the characters so cold, I just didn't care what happened to them at all.

That lack of vibrancy in either plot or language made these shorter length stories a bit of a slog at times. I finished most in one sitting, as one is expected to do with short fiction, but by the time I got through about half of them (I didn't read them in order), it became clear that "Dear Life: Stories" would have been more appropriately titles "Downer: Stories."

I won't give up on Munro totally. not yet. That almost seems like treason in the writing world. But I have given up on this collection.
Profile Image for Susan Tekulve.
Author 4 books24 followers
December 12, 2012
As with all of Alice Munro's books, I rushed out to buy this newest collection, and then I rushed home, eager to plunge into it. I am an ardent fan of Alice Munro's work, and I think this collection is good, better than good. The most breathtaking, full and energetic of the short stories in this collection is "Amundsen." It takes place in a TB sanatarium near a remote town in Northern Canada. The story is about a young woman who takes a job teaching the children in the sanatarium and, eventually, falls in love with the sanatarium's melancholy doctor whose kind, yet oddly cold, intentions toward the young woman remain muddled until the very end. The story has the heft of a Russian novel, and there is, indeed, an allusion to WAR AND PEACE within its pages. However, I felt a feverish pull to keep turning its pages, and there is a good sort of mystery that keeps the story tight and page-turning.

A lot of the other stories are classic Munro, stories that examine "grown-up" themes that so many other best-selling writers, and, more to the point, big-house publishers, typically don't seem to have an interest in publishing these days--unless they are publishing Alice Munro, and maybe a handful of other wonderful literary writer, (like Elizabeth Strout), who maintain a place in today's publishing market. Quite simply, Munro writes about aging, and she does so with bravery, steadiness and stoic grace. One of her characters faces the horrors of the onset of dementia--after she is already in the grips of the disease; another character, a seventy-one-year-old woman, begins to believe that her eighty-three-year-old husband is going to leave her for a visiting cosmetic saleswoman who turns out to be an old flame of his. These stories are sadly beautiful, and they are relatively short, by Munro's standards.

What surprised and delighted me the most were the four final "works" of the book. She prefaces these "works" by saying that they "are not quite stories" because they are "autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, in fact." Munro took a similar approach in THE VIEW FROM CASTLE ROCK, which begins with an account of how she researched her ancestors in Scotland, then moves into pieces of "fictionalized autobiography" based on her Scottish ancestors in the middle. Then, the book ends in the realm of complete fiction. I like Munro's forays into memoir, and even though she doesn't truly commit to writing "the truth," I have to admire the fact that she doesn't pretend that her autobiographical stories are 100% true. By taking this approach, she avoids the trap that a number of fiction writers fall into when they venture completely into memoir. It seems, (at least in my reading of memoirs written by fiction writers), that many fiction writers who make the foray into memoir writing forget that they are still telling a story. They forget that even memoirists must create a dramatic persona of themselves so that they have the distance, (and good narrative sense), that it takes to tell a truthful AND effective story. They have no sense of perspective, and no sense of how they come off as the protagonist of their own stories; they often tell too much, or too little. In short, they forget the basic elements of narrative because they are "telling the truth."

This is not the case with Munro's autobiographical writing. In fact, the autobiographical "works" in this collection feel more immediate and energetic than a number of the fictional stories. Munro's voice in these pieces is stoic. In a piece called "Night," she recalls the time when she was fourteen, and she had a tumor removed at the same time she had her appendix taken out. She muses about how her mother never mentioned whether the tumor was cancerous or benign: "So I did not ask and wasn't told and can only suppose it was benign or was most skillfully got rid of, for here I am today." It's statements like this that reveal her stoicism, but also her warmth and humor. In "The Eye," she writes heartbreakingly about the death of Sadie, the hired girl Munro's mother apparently brought into the home to help with the chores when Munro's younger brother was born. The story hinges upon the moment when Munro's mother takes her to Sadie's wake, with the intentions of showing Alice what death looks like. And Alice, who is quite young when this event happens, imagines that she sees Sadie's eye flutter open while she is lying in the casket. It's a small, almost Gothic moment, and yet it captures perfectly that mystery and strange hope that children feel when they first see death.

Ultimately, this is a collection that amazes me, partly because Munro continues to write innovative stories at a time in her life when she has every reason to rest on her laurels. It amazes me because she confronts subjects that a lot of people turn away from, such as aging quietly, and dying quietly, of devastatingly unromantic old-age ailments. If you already like Alice Munro, you will like the fictional stories because they have all the classic Munro traits--hardscrabble settings, stoic characters, dark humor. If you are an ardent fan, such as myself, you'll love the "fictionalized nonfiction" pieces too because they offer a glimpse into the life and mind of this beloved writer.
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,243 reviews2,257 followers
February 7, 2017
You know, I have been trying to put my finger on what exactly makes Alice Munro so fascinating. Her writing is without frills - she does not use flowery language or dazzling metaphors. Her stories can be read by any schoolkid without referring a dictionary. Ms. Munro does not write about extraordinary events; her characters are middle class men and women of Canada, going about their humdrum lives. It is Ernest Hemingway plus Jane Austen.

The first story sort of had me saying: "Is this the Nobel Prize winner? Oh come on!" but something in that bland narrative pulled me in, enticing me to try one more - then one more - then... well, you know. It was like a box of chocolates when you promise to stop after the next, and soon the box is empty.

The power of Alice Munro is not in what she says - but what she leaves unsaid: and that is quite a lot. The reader is asked to fill in the gaps, and I think most readers would do it in their own particular way, moulding the story to his or her own fashion. In most stories, the narrator is a child in the first person; a child who grows up as the story progresses. As we all know children see more of life and interpret it less. There is a disconcerting truthfulness to their viewpoints which makes adults uncomfortable. And when the child grows up and understands what she has experienced before she put on her adult glasses, this dichotomy of vision provides the tension which keeps the story on a knife's edge.

The unwritten story was what had me returning again and again to this collection.


The "child's-eye-view" is most effectively used in the stories "Gravel" and "Voices". In the first, a broken-up marriage is described in the voice of a child too young to form clear memories of events but has vivid recollections of things. When the story suddenly escalates to tragedy without warning, the kid suddenly grows up; and we realise that we have been hearing this child-woman all along - because in a sense, she has been trapped at the point of her tragedy. Her vision is crystal clear until the actual event, but the moment the adult takes over, analysis starts and we are now dealing with conjectures instead of concrete certainties.

In the second, the situation is more prosaic. In a country dance, the narrator and her mother meet a prostitute. The child is entranced by the elegant lady but the mum is understandably outraged. Sent upstairs to get her coat so that she and her mum can leave, the girl meets a girl called Peggy, who is visibly upset and crying, and her two suitors on the stairs. Peggy is part of the prostitute's entourage and the men are quite obviously trying to pacify her. They are talking to her as the child-narrator had never heard a woman talked to before.

For a long time I remembered the voices. I pondered over the voices. Not Peggy's. The men's. I know now that some of the Air Force men stationed at Port Albert early in the war had come out from England, and were training there to fight the Germans. So I wonder if it was the accent of some part of Britain that I was finding so mild and entrancing. It was certainly true that I had never in my life heard a man speak in that way, treating a woman as if she was so fine and valued a creature that whatever it was, whatever unkindness had come near her, was somehow a breach of law, a sin.

It is obvious to us adults who read the story that Peggy has been somehow slighted by the "respectable" ladies at the dance - the child sees only the consideration she obtains from men, something that is forever withheld from her.

Nameless child narrators (who seem alter egos of the novelist herself) are central to the stories "Haven", "The Eye"and "Night" also; and other stories such as "Leaving Maverly", "Pride"and "Dear Life" also deal in part with childhood. In fact, most of these stories involve the shifting of human relations as people grow up, and they seem to wander all over the place without coming to a point. Many contain snippets of information that are seemingly irrelevant to what the author is trying to convey but then, as Ms. Munro's narrator says in "Dear Life"

...And even farther away, on another hillside, was another house, quite small at that distance, facing ours, that we would never visit or know and that was to me like a dwarf's house in a story. But we knew the name of the man who lived there, or had lived there at one time, for he might have died by now. Roly Grain, his name was, and he does not have any further part in what I am writing now, in spite of his troll's name, because this is not a story, only life.

Life, unlike a story, is never neatly rounded off. Life leaves a lot of its story on unwritten pages - like Ms. Munro.


The characters in this author's fictional universe are often jarringly disconnected from one another. In "Train", the protagonist (unusually, a male) is on the run from a relationship: but not for the reason one thinks, as becomes shockingly clear at the denouement: in "Amundsen", a relationship develops and unfurls with frightening speed. The characters seem to take it all in their stride, especially when narrated in Ms. Munro's extremely spare prose. Sometimes, this alienation results in unlikely alliances too, as in "Corrie" and "Pride". Many a time, core plot elements are hidden or only fleetingly mentioned. In the hands of a less skilled author, it would have been a disaster; here, it is what gives the stories their pith.

Because at the centre of it all, there lies hope. As Neal, a character in "Gravel", says:

"The thing is to be happy," he said. "No matter what. Just try that. You can. It gets to be easier and easier. It's nothing to do with circumstances. You wouldn't believe how good it is. Accept everything and then tragedy disappears. Or tragedy lightens, anyway, and you're just there, going along easy in the world."

Yes, indeed.
Profile Image for brian   .
248 reviews2,994 followers
November 21, 2012
alice munro - great contemporary writer and bigtime oxymoron* - has a new collection coming out nov 13, just 3 days after i'm to be married. which is great as i'm expecting to be all reflective and nostalgic but also forward-looking and hopeful, a mishmash of sentiment and emotion and whatnot; which works out as nobody conjures up all that conflicting crap better than munro.

so, a few days after the wedding, we head down to del mar and, our first night walking the main drag of the tiny seaside town, we see this sign outside the local library:

giddy at the prospect of what 'read to dogs' actually means, we head back to our room deep in book/dog conversation. my new bride passes out early (red wine) & i head to the balcony, break out one of the many cigars i've acquired over the wedding weekend, and smoke and read. (munro is more a wintry, woodsmoke smell, but damp oceanair & cigarsmoke, as it turns out, works just fine)

next morning we head to the del mar library and discover that 'read to dogs' really is as good as it sounds: a program whereby young kids come to the library and, well, they… read to dogs. so me and the wife sit there all permagrinned in a circle with a bunch of kids and a bunch of dogs. i met two great guys in particular: caleb and cody. i read an excerpt from 'corrie', a story from dear life. check me out kissing caleb:

and here's his glamour shot:

so, dear life. not one of munro's best, but as per the woodman:

Woman: I finally had an orgasm, and my doctor said it was the wrong kind.
Isaac: You had the wrong kind? I've never had the wrong kind, ever. My worst one was right on the money.

yeah, even the 'wrong kind' of alice munro is right on the money.

a few more things: del mar is so awesome that even the fucking seals leave the ocean to try and hang out there.

look at that guy! he walked up onto the shore and hung with people! i have a theory that seals & sea lions are actually just dog mermaids.

and check this out:

"The 2010 United States Census[5] reported that Del Mar had a population of 4,161. The population density was 2,341.9 people per square mile (904.2/km²). The racial makeup of Del Mar was 3,912 (94.0%) White, 10 (0.2%) African American, eight (0.2%) Native American, 118 (2.8%) Asian, three (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 25 (0.6%) from other races, and 85 (2.0%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 175 persons (4.2%)."

10 black people live in del mar! we went to dinner and saw a black couple and i couldn't help thinking that we were sitting in a restaurant with 1/5 the black population of del mar. i wanted to stare and point -- like spotting a grizzly cub pawing down a city street. the weekend was extraordinary but i couldn't get this outta my head:


* 'badass candian' -- a distinction shared with neil young, my next door neighbors, pamela anderson, geddy lee, & peter north.
Profile Image for Maziyar Yf.
494 reviews243 followers
January 22, 2023
زندگی عزیز مجموعه داستان های کوتاهی ایست از آلیس مونرو ، نویسنده کانادایی برنده جایزه نوبل . با جست و جویی در اینترنت می توان فهمید که معروفیت مونرو غالبا به سبب داستان های کوتاه او بوده که بیشتر در شهرها و یا روستاهای کوچک کانادا رخ داده اند . قهرمانان کتاب او هم بیشتر زنان هستند که روزگارآنان را به موقعیت هایی نسبتا پیچیده کشانده است .
زندگی عزیز هم به همین گونه است ، داستان هایی از زندگی روزانه مردمانی که هیچ هیجان و یا نقطه عطفی ندارد ، انسان هایی معمولی که زندگی های معمولی دارند . مونرو خواننده را دعوت به دیدن زندگی آنان و خواندن داستان های آنان می کند . او خواننده را به لحظه ای در زندگی آنان می برد که حادثه ای کوچک سبب دگرگونی زندگی آنان شده .
در پایان شاید بتوان هنر خانم مونرو را در در توصیف حالات و رفتارهای انسانی و کلام مستقیم و خالی از هر گونه پیچیدگی او دانست .
Profile Image for Fereshteh.
250 reviews569 followers
January 28, 2016
حقیقت اینه که آدم خوندن داستان کوتاه نیستم. نه که نخونم ! می خونم ولی شاید با شوق سمتش نرم و انتظار نداشته باشم تاثیری به ماندگاری داستان بلند روی من داشته باشه و البته استثنا کم نیست. یکی از این استثناها "آلیس مونرو" ی دوست داشتنیه. داستان ها عموما در شهر کوچک یا دهکده ای در کانادای کمی بعد از جنگ جهانی دوم می گذرند و معمولا هم زندگی زنان و دختران دست مایه اصلی آثار مونروست که به نظرم همین به پیوستگی حس کتاب و تداوم تاثیرش روی خواننده کمک می کنه و یه جورایی مانع از شلختگی و ناپیوستگی ذهنی میشه که شاید بعضی هامون با مجموعه داستان های کوتاه حس کنیم

مونرو ساده می نویسه انگار که هیچ قصدی جز روایت کردن قصه نداره. نه میخواد معروف بشه. نه قصد خودنمایی داره و نه هدف پرفروش شدن یا برنده شدن جایزه ای در سر داره . مونرو از عادی ترین زندگی ها - زندگی ای که گاها به زندگی شخصی خودمون پهلو میزنه- و از معمولی ترین آدم ها - آدم هایی که شاید انتظار ملاقاتشون رو تو ادبیات نداریم - داستان هایی خلق می کنه که اثرش به این زودی ها ناپدید نمیشه حتی ته نشین وجودمون میشه

ویکی پدیا : "ویژگی اصلی نثر مونرو تأکید او بر محل وقوع داستان و شخصیت‌های زن پیچیده هستند. آثار او اغلب با آثار بزرگان ادبیات مقایسه شده و گفته می‌شود در آثار او، مثل آثار چخوف خط داستانی درجه دوم اهمیت را دارد و تقریباً اتفاق خاصی در داستان‌ها رخ نمی‌دهد و اغلب تلنگری موجب دگرگونی زندگی شخصیت‌ها می‌شود " . زنان داستان های مونرو شخصیت پیچیده تری در مقایسه با مردان دارند و شاید به خاطر پرداخت بیشتر به اونهاست که تم زنانه در داستان های غالبه

فرقی نمی کنه مونرو روایتگر درون کی باشه. یه کودک ، یه فارغ التحصیل جوان جویای کار، یه سرباز تازه از جنگ برگشته ، یه زن خانه دار ناراضی از زندگی و یا حتی خودش ( در چهار داستان پایانی) .... مونرو این کار رو با استادی تمام انجام میده . داستان ها رو با همه سادگیشون سر کشیدم. برشی از زندگی روزمره که در لحظه ای حتی شاید گاها نامحسوس، اتفاقی رخ داده که خیلی چیزها رو تا ابد تغییر داده: مسیر زندگی ، باوری یا احساسی رو . من این روزمرگی ها، این عادی و معمولی بودن ها ، این باورپذیری ، این غلو نکردن ها ، این سفر به درون آدم های داستان و این ریزبینی ها رو می پسندم. این هاست که مونرو رو برای من دوست داشتنی می کنه. همین که ساده میاد آدمی غیرخاص رو انتخاب می کنه و برهه ای از زندگیش رو برای من تعریف می کنه که در اون زمان خیلی چیز ها ناخواسته تغییر کرد و در پایان داستان، ناخودآگاهانه من هم روی زندگی ریز میشم و میگم: ببین! به همین سادگی ...همین اتفاقات ریز نامرئی خیلی چیزها رو شکل دادند و عوض کردند. مجبورم می کنه دقیق شم روی رفتار و افکار خودم و آدم های اطرافم... که یادم بیاد آدم ها چه راحت هم رو نادیده می گیرند... به احساسات هم بی توجهی می کنند... همدیگه رو به بازی می گیرند

خوبی مونرو به همینه..که از روزمرگی های همگانی شاهکار خلق می کنه....که آیینه ای ازهر روزه های خود ماست....خوبی مونرو به اینه که خود ماییم که داریم داستان هاشو تو واقعیت بازی می کنیم
Profile Image for Jan Priddy.
722 reviews137 followers
January 6, 2020
I am a great fan of Munro and wrote my critical essay in grad school mostly about one of her stories. She breaks rules, I believe intentionally and intelligently, and to a purpose. Her earliest stories are simply good, but then over time, as her reputation grew, she could do whatever she liked. And she did. I admire what writers do once they can afford to entirely please themselves. "The final four works in this book are not quite stories . . . things I have to say about my own life" including the title story, which I understand and treasure. I am very grateful for the reputation that allowed her to publish her "not quite stories."

Munro is aging and so am I though twenty years behind her. I see in her stories the same questions I have myself and these stories particularly look over entire lifetimes. In the book she claims as a novel, The Lives of Girls and Women, I recognized actual events and guilts from my own girlhood. Here I find my own worries about the span of my life.

Someday, probably too late, I will write to Munro to ask her questions. Like her, I have waited too long to ask about many things. But I thank her for reminding me.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
464 reviews593 followers
January 4, 2020
Dear Life: “One day he just got the idea that he could do the acting and not go through all that church stuff. He tried to be polite about it, but they said it was the Devil getting hold. He said ha-ha I know who it was getting hold. Bye-bye.” Greta should have known Loneliness, this inevitable part of our waking, breathing moments you’ve given us.

Dear Life: Vivien wanted to experience you “inside a Russian novel,” so she allowed herself to be seduced by a doctor . Come to think of it, what is this fascination with trains in this collection of life? First Greta, then Vivien. Are we all simply passengers on a train called life?

Dear Life: You gave a man’s lifetime companion, his heart, his whole being, an ailment called pericarditis, and you left him with nothing but her remains. “What an excellent word—‘remains.’Like something left to dry out in sooty layers in a cupboard.”

Dear Life: Sometimes you leave someone with “a sense of being watched by things you didn’t know about. Of being a disturbance. Life around coming to some conclusions about you from vantage points you couldn’t see.” This “Train” goes slowly, slow enough for Jackson to hop off and spend some time trying to figure you out, dear life. And enough time to be sheltered by Belle, who on her sick bed, tells him her deepest secret.

Dear Life: You lay bare interwoven discretions of town folks, and you create characters of flesh when you embody sorrow and pain, love and joy, desire and regret—all those things you’ve given us.
Profile Image for Abubakar Mehdi.
158 reviews221 followers
August 16, 2016
This is one wonderful book. Being my first experience of Munro, I found my self entirely engrossed by the very first page. Alice Munro is not pretentious, She weaves the most complex of stories and abstract emotions with simplest of words, just like that. Like its nothing. With a rare clarity of vision and magical storytelling, Munro takes us to the very depths of our minds. How can a writer say so much with so few words?

Without being overtly philosophical I must say that Munro knows the crisis of life and the battles fought each day. She shows how the greatest of our conflicts are not without, but within and all the regrets and desires that consume us, gradually but definitely. It has all the intricacies of life and its simple pleasures, the bliss of a happy marriage and the pain of unrequited love. This book has everything we call “LIFE”, nothing is missing and nothing forgotten.

After all, as she says, “… this is not a story, only life.”
Profile Image for Laysee.
501 reviews233 followers
April 3, 2019
I need only to start reading a few pages of a book by Alice Munro to know I can relax to the strains of a familiar voice and feel secure in the steady pen of a solid writer. Dear Life is a collection of fourteen stories; the last four in ‘Finale’ are autobiographical. The latter which I preferred offered a glimpse of the young Alice Munro growing up in Ontario, pouring over books with her feet in a warming oven, and discovering her story-telling voice as early as her high school days.

The stories are about ordinary men and women whose single action or decision changes their lives profoundly. The actions include planning a tryst with a person one scarcely knows (‘To Reach Japan’), drifting into an illicit relationship and being blackmailed for life (‘Corrie’), or waiting out a request to summon help until it is too late (‘Gravel’). The narrators in these story are fully aware of the consequences of what they are about to do, but they do it anyway.

Like the women, Munro’s male characters live with the fallout of their weakness and regrettable choices. Doctors seem to have a bad reputation and come across as being arrogant, self-serving, and callous. .

There is another group of men who are either too proud or overly self-assured for their own good as evident in stories such as ‘Pride’ and 'Corrie.’

When a Munro story ends, the reader picks it up in his or her own mind and fills in the wide open space. I think this is possible on account of the care Munro takes to develop her characters and tell us enough about their motivations and inclinations.

These stories usually span years with many life events overtaking the lives of the characters. It can be hard to see where the focus of the stories is until about half way through them. I have learned that the title offers hints of the focal point, that is, whose story is supposed to hold center stage. But in the hands of a master, a story has direction even though it appears to meander. This is most obvious in ‘Leaving Maverley’ that begins with its lens on Morgan Holly, the owner of a movie theatre in the town of Maverley. He hires Leah, a teenage girl as a ticket taker, who subsequently disappears from town. It is her story that predominates. Munro’s masterly ability to tell a story keeps the reader engaged and detours are interesting in themselves and always land us where she has intended our sympathies to be.

The best stories in my view are those in the Finale section. Munro said that these stories are “autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact.” They reveal her innocent initiation into life: the complexity of relating to her mother, a farm girl who became a school teacher and was zealous to be one-up, insomnia borne of guilt toward her sister, naivety at what goes on at a dance party, and tenderness toward her father despite the beatings she received on occasion for exasperating her mother. The titular story is no fiction. Of her life, she said, ‘You would think that this was just too much. The business gone, my mother’s health going. It wouldn’t do in fiction. But the strange thing is that I don’t remember that time as unhappy.’ Life can be stranger than fiction. I appreciate this story for its honesty and transparency.

Read Dear Life. Munro is a gifted short story writer and deserving of the Nobel Prize in Literature (2013) as a "master of the contemporary short story." Her understanding of human motivation and behavior once again shines forth in this collection of stories.
Profile Image for Amirsaman.
417 reviews225 followers
October 27, 2017
زن‌های داستان‌های آلیس مونرو، همان ویژگی‌هایی را دارند که زنِ ایده‌آل خیال من.
یک وقار به‌خصوصی که کسی اجازه‌ی نزدیک‌شدن به آن‌ها را به خود نمی‌دهد. وقاری که زنانه یا مردانه نیست. مثل داستان «آموندسن»، هم دکتر فاکس و هم میس تاک این جدیّت را دارند. مهربانی توام است با این غرور.

در داستان «گوشه‌ی امن»، مواجه‌ی آدم آزاد و تورنتویی را می‌بینیم با فضایی بسته و مقرراتی؛ که در آن‌جا وظیفه‌ی زن ایجاد گوشه‌ی امنی برای مرد است و خود زن‌ها هم این را به‌عنوان حقیقت پذیرفته‌اند. برخلاف زنِ مونرویی، این زنان عاشق گردنبند هستند، مطیع اند، و در عین حال زندگی بر آن ها سخت می‌گذرد.
یک ‌کاری که اگر دختری آن را انجام دهد بی‌نهایت جذاب است برای من، دوچرخه‌سواری است. انگار عملی‌شده‌ی این حرف است که «من می‌توانم به‌خوبی مرد و بی‌اعتنا به نگاه متعجب او کاری که دوست دارم را بکنم.» در این داستان هم نماد دوچرخه،‌ بی‌پروایی (و نه پررویی) و در عین حال متانت دخترک را نشان می‌دهد.

ربشه‌ی تفاوت این دخترها به مادران آن‌ها برمی‌گردد. مادر دخترک معتقد است خواهرش (خاله‌ی دختر) خودش را وقف شوهرش کرده و این برای او قابل تحمل نیست.
در چهار داستان انتهایی که روایت زندگی خود مونرو در کودکی و نوجوانی‌اش است، نیز به وضوح این را می‌بینیم. مادرش نخواسته که در مزرعه‌ی پدریش بماند و تلاش کرده که سطح زندگی‌اش را عوض کند، و بنابراین معلم شده‌. (در بعضی داستان‌ها زن، معلم ریاضی می‌شود تا آرکیوتایپی را که می‌گوید «زن‌ها هرگز ریاضی درس نمی‌دهند چون عقلشان ناقص است» بشکند.)
پیری این زنانِ مونرویی همچنان با عشق می‌گذرد؛ برخلاف تصور رایج، این‌ زنان تنها و بی‌عشق و خشک نیستند. در داستان «دالی» پیرزن آرایش نمی‌کند (این است که می‌گویم عاشق خیلی از شخصیت‌های مونرویی می‌شوم). با مردی زندگی می‌کند و دلتنگش می‌شود، تعهد برایش بسیار مهم است.
چند وقت پیش لیستی را در سایت فیلم لترباکسد شروع کرده بودم به‌نام «زن‌هایی که عاشقشان هستم». فلسفه‌اش ازینجا شروع شد که متوجه شدم به‌طرز کاملا ناخودآگاهی، سال‌هاست از تیپ و نوع خاصی از شخصیت‌های زن در فیلم‌ها خوشم می‌آید و بعد که سعی کردم این فیلم‌ها را از عمق ذهنم بیرون بکشم، به ویژگی‌های مشترک زیادی رسیدم.
اول این‌که این دخترها صد و هشتاد درجه با آن‌چه جامعه «زن» می‌نامد فرق می‌کند. آن‌ها خصوصیاتی پسرگونه دارند.
شباهت این فیلم‌ها به مواجهات واقعی زندگی برایم اعجاب‌آورتر بود. اِمای Stranger Than Paradise همراهی پسرعمویش برای قدم‌زدن در مناطق خطرناک نیویورک را نمی‌پذیرد و معتقد است خودش ا�� عهده‌ی این‌کار برمی‌آید. لباس‌های دخترانه را دوست ندارد و لباس راحت و مردانه‌وار خودش را ترجیح می‌دهد. از مسافرت با ادی و ویلی لذت می‌برد بدون این‌که دختر بودنش باعث شود متفاوت از صرفا یک همسفر برای آن‌ها باشد. یعنی رفتار و کردارش مهلت این تفکر را به دیگران نمی‌دهد.

در این دوران البته دیگر خنده‌دار است که بگوییم فقط درون را بنگرید و ظاهر انسان مهم نیست. مرتب و تمیز بودن حس خوب به خود آدم می‌دهد. ولی یک وقت این حس خوب برای آن به سراغ آدم می‌آید که از «توجهی» که بهش می‌شود لذت می‌برد. دیگر این آراستگی می‌شود هدف و ساعت‌ها وقت است که می‌رود، دغدغه‌ی عمده‌ی آدم می‌شود پیچش مو، پسر و دختر هم ندارد.
دختر ایده‌آلِ فیلم The Unspeakable Act ولی مورد توجه بودن به‌خاطر بدنش را مضحک می‌داند. مادر، در این فیلم، اغلب ساکت است و کتاب می‌خوانَد و چای می‌خورَد، ولی به‌درستی و بادقت بچه‌هایش را تحلیل می‌کند و بهترین مشورت را به‌ آن‌ها می‌دهد؛ این است همسری ایده‌آل. این می‌شود که فیلم می‌شود فیلم مقدس من.
فکر می‌کنم اگر کسی از استفاده‌ی زیاد لوازم آرایش در کشور ناراحت است، چاره‌اش سپردن کارهای مهم به زنان است. نه منشی شدن. کارهایی که پتانسیل اقناع روح انسان را داشته باشند. (مثلا فرد اینقدر کارش را دوست دارد که ازدواج نمی‌کند. منظورم چنین شغل‌هایی است.) آن وقت دغدغه‌ی مرد یا زن از مدل موها فراتر می‌رود. شغل البته تنها عامل نیست، بحث اصلی آن «دغدغه‌ی فراتر» است. چیزی که باعث می‌شود کسی انتخاب کند که روز و شبش را با خوشیِ ناشی از توجهاتی که در اینستاگرام بهش می‌شود بگذراند، یا با خوشیِ لذت بردنِ خودش، از باطن و ظاهرِ خودش.
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books786 followers
July 21, 2018
I can give this collection all the accolades I’ve given to the other collections I’ve read by Munro. As I said of The View from Castle Rock: Many of the stories are as good as anything I've read by her, though some of the ones here are even better. As I said of Too Much Happiness: ... some of these I'd read before and it was a pleasure to read them again ... This pleasure ... comes not from her characters or her plots ...but from the themes ..., some of which need to be teased out. And as I said of Friend of My Youth: Though, plot-wise, my life is nothing like the stories here, I am left wondering ... how Munro knows my inner life so well.

Though I am repeating myself, Munro doesn't -- not even in her 'Finale,' the last four stories that she says "are not quite stories," though they do hold echoes from stories in earlier collections. (The 'Finale' also reminds me of some of William Maxwell's Billie Dyer, and Other Stories.) Before this 'Finale,' the stories are arranged for the most part, chronologically, by the age of the main character: from a young mother in the first story to an elderly woman in the last.

I don’t know if this is Munro's last collection, though, thematically, it reads as if it could be. She's still at the very top of her game, even using to great effect different styles for her (though I can’t say that for sure as I haven’t read all her work). If it is an ending, I’m glad to know that I still have much of her earlier work left to read.
Profile Image for Peiman E iran.
1,394 reviews707 followers
February 9, 2017
‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتاب از 224 صفحه و 11 داستان تشکیل شده است که داستانها حالت روایت گونه و ساده ای دارد و برخی از آنها به نظر میرسد که دربارهٔ خود نویسنده است
‎داستانها نکتهٔ خاصی ندارد و همانطور که گفتم بسیار ساده است و حتی هیجانِ خاصی نیز در آن دیده نمیشود
‎موضوعی که در داستانها به چشم میخورد و من را خوشحال میکرد، اهمیت دادنِ نویسنده به جنسِ زن است و به گونه ای قهرمانهای داستانها از جنسِ عزیزِ زن هستند
‎و امّا موضوعی که برایم دلچسب نبود این بود که: من شخصاً علاقهٔ زیادی به سبکِ داستان نویسی و ادبیاتِ روس و شوروی سابق دارم... و لذا هر نویسنده ای که روس نباشد و از سبکِ روس بهره ببرد، ناخودآگاه از چشمِ من می افتد... احساس کردم، نویسنده در آثارش بیش از حد از سبکِ داستان نویسیِ زنده یاد «نیکولای گوگول»و «آنتوان چخوف» تقلید کرده بود و این را میتوانیم حتی در به کار بردنِ نام ها و فامیلی هایِ مردمِ دهکده هایی که نویسنده از آنها روایت کرده بود، تشخیص دهیم
‎نام شخصیت ها آورده میشود و سپس در موردِ ظاهر و شخصیت آنها توضیح داده میشود... این سبک برای ما کاملاً آشناست و نکتهٔ تازه و جالبی حداقل برای من نداشت
‎در کل داستانهایِ آخر که در مورد خودِ نویسنده بود، برای من جالب توجه نبود و خسته کننده بود، گویا فقط نوشته شده بود تا تعداد صفحات بالا رود
‎امیدوارم از خواندنِ این داستانها لذت ببرید
‎عزیزانم، ممکن است شما این داستانها را بپ��ندید... به هرحال بارها گفته ام که در موردِ داستان و شعر، سلیقه ها متفاوت است... من هم فقط و فقط نظرِ خودم را بیان کردم... خواندنِ داستان های کوتاه از نویسندگانِ بسیار، سبب میشود تا شما داستانهایِ کوتاه را با وسواس بیشتری خوانده و بهتر بتوانید آنها را مورد نقد و بررسی قرار بدهید... به خصوص اگر داستان نویس هایی همچون زنده یاد «صادق هدایت» و «صادق چوبک» را در بخش داستان نویسی کوتاه، در سرزمینتان داشته باشید... لذا معیار شما مقایسه با این نویسندگانِ بینظیر میباشد
‎«پیروز باشید و ایرانی»
Profile Image for Nastja .
225 reviews1,396 followers
November 20, 2021
Это на самом деле сборник коротких романов – какие-то удивительно закругленные и оконченные, от каких-то осталась только пара важных сцен, и есть рассказ «Амундсен», который должен длиться всегда, потому что это идеальный русский роман, обточенный до концентрата смыслов, движений и образов, а хочется больше этого холода, берез, туберкулезной безысходности, крайности земли, тишины и всех историй, что остались нерассказанными.
Profile Image for Zanna.
676 reviews947 followers
February 1, 2015
Where do I begin? My second Munro and I feel that familiar sensation, like feeling for the barely palpable edge of the sticky tape on the roll, a way in, when everything feels like the centre, a cycle that's encircled me, that I've had with me for so long I can't imagine either end.

It's not as if the stories are all the same or blur into each other - far from it in fact! The mood and mode of each is so crisply distinct I can imagine Munro writing in an organised study, selecting from the options as from coloured paints lined up on a shelf - shall we have 'brooding pastoral' with a splash of 'breathless passion'?

There is structural variation too, Munro even amuses (and terrifies) us with a storyform so hackneyed that EFL exam handbooks warn against it: the 'I woke up and it was all a dream' trope. Wait. Here's a tiny ridge, let's peel it. The edge Munro presents us with here is the uncertainty of reality and of identity when memory becomes unstable, thus tripping up the trope: we cannot awaken from this half-dream. The threat of dissolution is softened by the darkly comic, but finally heartening story 'Dolly', which I read aloud to my mum in the car. We both thought it would make a great screenplay.

Most of these stories have keener edges, over which we peer into less final abysses. In most of them, a woman is punished for transgressing the rigid norms of conservative small-town society. The means of correction are many and varied, all too often they are internal - the self-coercing mechanisms of patriarchal socialisation kick in. There's a truthfulness, a wry rightness to the detail that has me constantly nodding: that's the way it goes.

But plotwise it isn't the way it goes, it's always fresh and surprising, the page yields up a shock, the heart drops a beat and races. It's only the texture of everyday life that is so utterly real, so well worn and worn well on the strong frames of Munro's direct, unadorned sentences, her many quiet, clear voices that allow precise evocation, and make a calm and light background for strange small horrors and delights to leap out from all the more vividly.

Generational gaps are important in a collection that examines a period of shifting cultural values. There are a few young characters imbued with potentially rebellious, transformative energy, especially disruptive, gregarious, voluble Mary in 'Amundsen', who, although she transforms the narrator Vivien into Miss Hyde, seems to make generous efforts to preserve her threatened vivacity. The narrator of 'Haven', a tale in which the deadly patriarchal morality of a passing era is deftly explored, also has a certain energy and freedom about her. These lively, unrestrained young girls remind me of The Madwoman in the Attic in which Gilbert and Gubar share their divination of a sad yearning on the part of C19th women authors for lively spirited girls like Catherine Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights to be able to grow up into autonomy and subjectivity, instead of being imprisoned by sex roles.

In 'Haven' as in other stories, the reader is not spared discomfort. I found myself anguished by even subtle hints of the narrator's increased socialisation into patriarchy. Munro is not afraid to offer the unpleasant; her tactic is to confront it, and there is a therapeutic value in this, a learning that unpleasant things exist, which helps to deal with them or put them in their place. In one of the concluding semi-autobiographical pieces, 'Voices', the narrator shares how her father helped her to deal with terrifying thoughts of killing her sister by telling her that 'everyone thinks things like that', reassuring her thus that the unwanted thought is not an intention. Munro's stories sometimes deal with unwanted thoughts and panic in helpful ways.

'Pride' and 'Corrie' deal with sexuality around physical disabilities, making space in the discussion for differences of gender and social class. Cultural assumptions about male desire are thrown into relief, as are those about women as empathic carers. 'Train' forms something of a counterpoint to these stories in that is deals with an apparently asexual man. Compulsory heterosexuality keeps him more or less on the run from one safe-space to another, yet such freedom is clearly a gendered prerogative - he finds work anywhere and is (explicitly) assumed to be trustworthy. A lone woman would not have such mobility, unless, perhaps, she were a sex-worker, which would come at the cost of social exclusion.

In general the stories have harmony with each other, in their shades of like and unlike. Occasionally there is a sunny clearing, as in the loving older couple in 'Leaving Maverly'. The natural world, beautifully sketched, is ever-present and significant (sometimes it seems that everything is significant in Munro, every detail has a polysemous aura, which discussion helped me to read), though arguably it only once, at the end of 'Pride' intervenes and utters the last, transcendent, cryptic, unanswerable word.
Profile Image for Caroline .
419 reviews576 followers
January 25, 2021

(Full disclosure: Book abandoned on page 133, after story 5.)

There's something to be said for a quiet story, the kind that unfolds slowly, that's open-ended. This is true of Munro's short stories. On the flip side, this kind of story can lack emotion and dramatic punch. This is also true of Munro's stories. Each of Dear Life's roughly 20- to 25-page-long stories centers on a female protagonist who experiences a sudden revelatory moment. Some of these revelations are life-changing, but in most of the (first five) stories the revelation is a modest, anti-climactic one.

Munro's premises have excellent potential, but some never fully actualize; some would be more powerful if they focused on a different character; and others feature characters with unclear motivations. One of the early stories is a prime example of this last point. Munro crafted the narrative itself expertly, but this can't make up for the strange turn at the conclusion.

Another story concerning a suicide features characters that are strangely detached. The story limps along, meanderingly at points, and when the suicide does occur, it makes no sense; the character simply does it and I didn't know why.

All of the first five stories completely lack suspense, momentum, and clear-cut motivations. Lack of motivation may be the biggest problem. Munro expected me to just accept that her characters do what they do. They're neither sharply drawn nor realistic. One female character has an affair "just because." Another bland character invites her husband's long-estranged sister to their home also "just because." Without an answer to the "why" behind these behaviors, the stories feel incomplete and pointless. Munro may have been aiming for an air of mystery, or maybe to her mind it's more literary to leave a story open-ended. But her creations don't mirror real life; there are always reasons, however small, behind actions. Such ambiguity has no place in a compilation entitled Dear Life.

The short story format is a tough one. The premise must be narrow enough that it can be fully realized in only a few pages but not so slight that it's boring and forgettable. Munro may have won the Nobel Prize in 2013, but she hasn't mastered the art of the short story. Her themes are too complex for just a few pages to do them justice, and her storytelling completely lacks the vigor necessary to seize and not let go.
Profile Image for Richard.
Author 4 books432 followers
January 30, 2017
This is Alice Munro's most recent collection of short stories. Despite the advanced years of this grande dame of Canadian literature, her narrative powers have lost none of their sharpness. This offering has a family resemblance to other works of hers which I have read in the past. The setting is often a small Canadian town where life is very humdrum and ordinary. In this environment, shocking. tragic, bittersweet and sometimes humorous events can arise. They are chronicled with a detached, often ironic and yet intense clarity. The last few stories are more autobiographical than fictional, and she reaches back into childhood days as she struggles to comprehend mysterious and sometimes baffling events unfolding around her and to deal with her rather eccentric parents.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
329 reviews270 followers
January 14, 2015
Dear Ms Munro,
We often visited Nana and Grandpa’s in Kincardine while we were growing up in London in the early 70s. They had a rich supply of Readers Digest, crossword puzzle books, and National Geographics. I’d catch up on all that new reading, then retreat to my own books that I’d brought along. I was quite happy to sit on the couch for hours and read, while absorbing the family reunion vibe around me. They would gently tease me every time, “There she is with her nose in a book again.” They humoured me my strange passion, with a sort of loving condescension that was masking just the slightest edge of impatience. That was the beginning of a lifelong defiant anxiety felt when questioned directly about my ‘hobbies’.

“I like to read.”
“Oh. ———“
That’s a conversation stopper in southwestern Ontario, I tell you.
But when you wrote about that same sort of attitude, brought it out of the shadows and into the light, I almost felt legitimized.

Every time I read another one of your books, I feel a thrill of recognition, kind of like when you see someone you know on tv. It’s so familiar and yet you can’t believe they’re really on tv. Where everyone can see them.

Your descriptions and stories of SW Ontario are eerily familiar. My father and several generations back were from the same area in southwestern Ontario as you, and you are only a bit older than my own father. It is as if you have been a distant cousin writing about the same kinds of people I heard about from my own grandparents over many years. It’s not just the stories, it’s that you have captured the times, and the characters. I keep seeing my world, or the world I heard about, reflected in your stories but with that slightly altered, or maybe additional, point of view. And somehow it has helped me see my own families’ lives in a larger context.

There is a tumble of coincidences I keep bumping into. Back in the 30s or 40s, my grandpa tried and failed at running a mink farm, just like your father. It was just outside of Kincardine, not far from where you lived. I wonder if they shared tips or commiserations. My father escaped by joining the Air Force in the 50s,and his training base was in Clinton, where you live now. He started his own family, and we ended up out West too, in Comox, within two blocks of where you used to live.

Then life pushed us back to SW Ontario, which seemed an area of pursed lips and hypocrisy. But we always loved visiting “”Kinkerdeen” as children and teenagers. “Don’t get lost now”, our grandparents would lovingly tease every time we stepped out. Every meal, Grandpa (occasionally Nana or even our very elderly Great Aunt Pearl) would say grace: “Lord, bless this food to our use, and bless us to thy service, amen.” My brother and I obediently bowed our heads, but would sneak peeks at each other and barely stifle our giggles at the piousness of the rest of the family. We would mimic perfectly the cadence and drawling words of the prayer. And this was all enjoyed hugely by everyone — no offense given or taken.

So after all these years of reading and loving your books, Ms Munro, it was that single line in your story “Haven”, of Uncle Jasper saying “Lord bless this food to our use and us to thy service,” that flung me back to those wonderful years visiting my grandparents in Kincardine. They are long dead but you startlingly, somehow, made them alive again.

This letter is to say thank you, for all of that.
Profile Image for sarah Mtz.
30 reviews27 followers
February 2, 2021

از نظر من جايزه نوبل ادبيات براي اين كتاب مثل يه شوخي بود، فقط همين.
كتاب از مجموعه داستان هاي كوتاهي تشكيل شده كه من فقط تونستم با يكيش ارتباط برقرار كنم، بيشترشون خيلي خاكستري و كسالت بار بودن، انگار منتظر يه اتفاق خاصي تو داستان هستي و هيچ چيزي رخ نمي ده.
امتيازم به اين كتاب ٢.٥ بود كه گردش كردم به سمت بالا.

Profile Image for Nidhi Singh.
40 reviews164 followers
April 14, 2014
Something that happens in most of Alice Munro’s stories is one of the many desired things that almost never happen to me. Those chance meetings that lead to moments of epiphany, those transformative experiences. I always thought I would also have one of those at some turn of the road. Or a forgotten someone would call out my name in a crowd. Or a certain name, a voice, would spark the memories a bygone past. Something that would lead to a retelling of life’s tales. And such difference that would make! A dent in the whole. Something that ordinary and grand. These are some such things that do happen to the characters in Munro’s ‘Dear Life’; their whole lives shape around such experiences. They get enmeshed in them without that uncommonness or eccentricity which would make them shards of fiction, worth writing a good story about. There is nothing of that fictitiousness about them. And the way Munro writes, one wouldn’t be bemused at the novelty of her style or exclaim at the interesting turn her expressions would take. But oh how she writes! With those beautiful uncomplicated sentences which probe the intricacies of the ordinary. Of some odd thought one would never think of writing in its bare ordinariness. Of the tiny little bittersweet details of life. Life as it spreads in living rooms, kitchens, farmhouses, sanatoriums, at the neighbour’s door, at the writer’s desk, at the dining table. In hotels, rented rooms, apartments with the views, in the dreary loneliness of huge houses. In those early years of childhood, when some childish fear starts to live in a corner of the mind only to haunt us in sleepless nights. In youth, when love finds us in the most unexpected places, forsakes us in the most unexpected moments. In old age, when death is contemplated and prepared for. When past revisits in the form of a saleswoman with foolish hair and an extraordinary nest of wrinkles. And how some ordinary image from life can shape into an intensely personal experience. Sometimes a dearly preserved memory we look back to when we look back at life. Again and yet again with all the modifications and colouring memory and imagination have to offer. For Munro, these images are salvaged in her last three autobiographical pieces. She reminds me of how we all have such vignettes, such unarranged chapters; which at some point, need to be folded safely for reliving and reminiscing in our own dear lives.
Profile Image for JimZ.
1,023 reviews460 followers
May 29, 2022
I know Alice Munro is a great short story writer (she has garnered some major awards in her long writing career: PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction (1997); National Book Critics Circle Award (1998, U.S.) For The Love of a Good Woman; Man Booker International Prize, 2009; Nobel Prize in Literature (2013) as a "master of the contemporary short story"). But at least for several stories in this collection, although I appreciated her writing, the endings were not satisfying. Either I didn’t “get it” or they just sort of ended with no resolution. And I know that is what happens in our quotidian lives but...I just expected something more. 🙁 Some of her stories were good though. Maybe I should try her earlier writing...I have her Selected Stories (1996, Knopf)....’Dear Life’ was her last short story collection.

Stories are below in the order in which they were presented in the book, along with where the story was originally published, and my rating:
• To Reach Japan — Narrative Magazine — 2 stars
• Amundsen — New Yorker — 2.5 stars
• Leaving Maverley — New Yorker — 4 stars
• Gravel — New Yorker — 2 stars
• Haven — New Yorker — 2 stars
• Pride — Harper’s Magazine — 3.5 stars
• Corrie — New Yorker — 3 stars
• Train — Harper’s Magazine — 2.5 stars
• In Sight of the Lake — Granta —4 stars
• Dolly — Tin House — 3 stars
• The Eye — not previously published — 3 stars
• Night — Granta — 4.5 stars
• Voices — not previously published — 2.5 stars
• Dear Life — New Yorker — 5 stars

Last 4 stories are supposedly memoirish...in her words: ‘I believe they are the first and last—and the closest—things I have to say about my own life.’

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