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Dear Life

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  34,246 ratings  ·  4,076 reviews
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 o
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 13th 2012 by Douglas Gibson Books (first published 2012)
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Diane No. Munro won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013 for her life work.
No. Munro won a Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013 for her life work.

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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 w ...more
Nicholas Sparks
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-lit
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, peopl
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.

Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


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

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
Oct 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Susan Tekulve
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
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 Mun
Nandakishore Mridula
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 P
Nov 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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 t
Jan Priddy
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
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 (view spoiler) Loneliness, this inevitable part of our waking, breathing m ...more
Abubakar Mehdi
Sep 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
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
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, ofte ...more

(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-cha
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 h
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nidhi Singh
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 ...more
May 29, 2022 rated it liked it
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 d ...more
Jason Koivu
This is Winesburg, Ohio for Canada.

I hesitated to use that analogy, because Ohioans and Midwesterners in general are so very Canadian it just seemed redundant. However, in Dear Life Alice Munro has written the same kind of truly reflective snippets of life that made Sherwood Anderson's work the well-respected, and frankly, forgettable novel it is.

Stories about everyday events and the less-than-dramatic moments of an average joe's average day do not enthrall me. I do, however, enjoy really well-c
Elyse  Walters
I enjoy reading Alice Munro's short stories ---

I've read --"Too Much Happiness" --and "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage".

I own "The View From Castle Rock" (I've only read one of the stories in the book so far) ---

I enjoy the work Alic Munro does........
but I didn't feel "Dear Life" was her 'The Best'. I had my hopes higher since she just won the Noble Prize of literature. (How do they do these awards?)....

I'm guessing the award represented YEARS of 'body-of-work' (short storyt
Raul Bimenyimana
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a brilliant collection of short stories. With short stories we expect a certain punch that will leave the reader breathless; Julio Cortazar is quoted to have said: "The novel wins by points, the short story by knockout." Most of these stories though, are ordinary stories of ordinary people and ordinary events, what would be called "ordinary life", and yet are so stunning and captivating.

Most of the stories are sad with characters that are marked by certain occurrences that left them hea
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays-shorts
Alice Munro's short story collection, Dear Life, has won several prestigious awards - among them the Nobel Prize in Literature. It's easy to see why. Her writing possesses the clarity, the texture, the depth, and the simple pure water craft one expects from a master, not only of words but of observation. There are ten short fictions to start, with a coda of four autobiographical pieces. All take place in Canada, Munro's home, and all contend with the everyday human travail. Here are jobs taken, ...more
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my introduction to Munro's short stories. I read them one at a time and savoured each one. I really enjoyed these extraordinary stories. Some of these stories just breathe life. Ordinary life can sometimes be so special! I won't easily pass up a chance to read more stories by Alice Munro. ...more
I apologize for all the lukewarm 3-star reviews as of late. I really wanted Dear Life to lift me away from my GRE studying, average-book reading induced haze. However, this collection of stories did not possess the same precision or mastery of language I have come to expect of Alice Munro.

Every piece felt like it came so close: so close to a character reaching a special point of development, so close to a story coming to a satisfying conclusion, or so close to some type of phrase or paragraph th
Jan 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Munro is unapologetic in her style and she should be. She knows how to write a damn good story. The best of the stories in this collection are simply brilliant. If there's a fault with this collection it is that there is not enough variety in theme or tone. ...more
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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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