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Open Secrets: Stories

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  4,942 ratings  ·  404 reviews
In these eight tales, Munro evokes the devastating power of old love suddenly recollected. She tells of vanished schoolgirls and indentured frontier brides and an eccentric recluse who, in the course of one surpassingly odd dinner party, inadvertently lands herself a wealthy suitor from exotic Australia. And Munro shows us how one woman's romantic tale of capture and escap ...more
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published September 6th 1994 by Knopf (first published 1994)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: o-canada, in-short
Please, do not cross your arms over your chest, stubbornly protesting that you can't read short stories because you aren't given enough time to know the characters.

That you're not going to invest in 50 pages of something only to have a new story suddenly taken away from you.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Get over yourselves, people.

When a character is written well, you can NEVER get enough of them. After 945 pages of Lonesome Dove, readers wanted more, more, and more of Gus McCrae. Larry McMurtry broke all of
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Collections of short stories often follow a similar qualitative pattern. The best ones are positioned early on and then towards the end there's a couple of rather uninspired fillers. Not the case here at all. All eight stories are equally inspired and compelling. In fact, the last story is particularly haunting. It's called Vandals and epitomises Munro's method and genius. First of all, her stories always contain more than one story. It's like she lets us see her characters from one perspective
Violet wells
I finished this about a month ago and, to be honest, don't now remember much about it. It struck me as competent and interesting rather than exciting and brilliant. I don't know much about Alice Munro and for all I know she might have written much better books and I chose a dud. So, I'll probably give her another chance further down the line. Her central characters in this collection, predominantly female, all seemed to occupy that hinterland between urban and rural, not quite feeling at home in ...more
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, canada
She's the very devil, is Ms Munro.
Those words.
Words that lodge in a girl's mind and clear a precarious space there with a light buzz around it.

I'd like to fuck you if you weren't so ugly

She was not ugly. She knew she was not ugly. How can you ever be sure that you are not ugly?

Rhea finds a way to be sure.
She marries the man.
(Spaceships have Landed)

Or there's Liza.
Such a wicked girl, Liza.
Oh, she may have turned Christian, but she's a wild one. When Bea phones from Toronto where Ladner (B
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Tony
4.5 stars

This is my sixth volume of Munro stories and she has yet to disappoint me. Her stories are as dense and deep as the best of novels. In Dear Life it was the themes I fell for; here, though the characters and plots are very strong, it's the sense of place. Munro found her own little postage stamp of native soil (thank you, Mr. Faulkner) in Carstairs, Ontario, though not all the stories are restricted to that one place.

I was left breathless by the first story, "Carried Away", (probably my
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
On Tuesday morning, while Frances was getting breakfast and Maureen was helping her husband to finish dressing, there was a knock at the front door, by someone who did not notice or trust the bell.

I love sentences like that, ones that stop me, draw me in; ones that introduce, define, portend. Alice Munro can not help herself from writing sentences like that, inventing such people.

Like this:

When Bea spoke of having had a checkered career, she was taking a sarcastic or disparaging tone that did no
2.5 stars I read Dear Life a couple years back and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I'd been meaning to read more of Munro's work since. I picked up a copy of this one in Canada (seems fitting) when I was there earlier this month. And sadly it was pretty disappointing. None of the stories were flat-out bad, but they weren't very memorable. Even now having just finished the collection after reading it for the last week or so, nothing stands out to me. I don't expect to love every story in a collection, ...more
My first Munro. A good thing? A bad thing? I acquired her books before the Nobel Prize pronouncement, but only got around to reading them after. I'm the sort that often needs to be led by the nose like that.

I'm reiterating a common complaint when I say that reviewing short story collections is difficult, but still. I thought my luck with finding my way through O'Connor's The Complete Stories heralded a new found ability to transition between varying lengths, but whereas O'Connor drives you into
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These stories are kind of peculiar. Very subdued, and on the surface often uneventful, they're also filled with little details that give a sense of magnitude and richness to their world. If you imagine narrative as a path, these details are like things clustered closely to the path's sides, even spilling over into it, giving you a sense of the wider and ultimately interconnected reality which enmeshes any sequence of events in the life of an individual, fictional or otherwise. Several of the sto ...more
Jan 10, 2013 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: babble-added
I've been meaning to read Alice Munro for a while. karen put Canadian authors on my radar as a group with George Elliot Clarke, and brian's reviews of her books have been tantalizing. Then the gauntlet was thrown down by that sleazy architect-loving Blake. Well, not really, but I perceived a gauntlet. Architects suck!

With the first story, I'm hooked. Amazing. I'm not even done with it yet, the very first story, good. A simple tale that touches down on a solitary librarian's life like a
Damn you Alice Munro. Your stories are the work of a misery guts. And I stick to my feeling that these are not short stories. They are shrivelled up novels, like you can’t be bothered with filling in the details. An impressionistic dab here, a by-your-leave reference there and chunks of life are presumed to have substance. Not enough words for how much are in them. Never mind the movie, most of these stories could fill a mini-series or a BBC serial, the ones they used to do that never seemed to ...more
Open Secrets was my second Munro after Runaway, and she has once again lived up to high expectations. The stories are all tied (loosely or strongly) to the fictional town of Carstairs, Ontario, which gives them cohesion in time and space. And true to form for Munro, the stories themselves are almost compulsively easy to read. They flow so well and have so many tantalizing details that the reader is fully absorbed. Sometimes the endings can be ambiguous leaving room for wonder, as in the case of ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
The thing about Alice Munro is that she makes it look so easy. But what she does is simply (complexly) genius-slash-magic.
030119: incorporates old review. i think i have read everything published by alice munro (i think i will just call her aunt a by now). i have just finished her collection 'runaway', and decided to try a review of one or two of her stories i have not read in years (decades...). the first collection i had read was as a curious child, a paperback of 'lives of girls and women', then found an old copy of 'dance of the happy shades'. i read these easily, swiftly, and this was the first time i wanted a ...more
Dec 09, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't think it's Alice Munro's fault. I think I just overdosed on her short stories. I loved Runaway, I liked Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, and this one ... eh. Nothing in this collection really grabbed me.

The stories I enjoyed most were:

-- Open Secrets, because it's about a crime. A girl disappears while on a hiking trip. Because of a tale told by a woman who lives near the woods, a strange elderly man falls under suspicion, but no body is found and there is no eviden
I think this collection was the first Alice Munro I ever read, many many MANY years ago. I always have this rosy memory of it as the best of the Alice Munro stories, though it's been so long that I could no longer say why, or even be sure that my memory is not wrong.

So now I'm re-reading the collection again, and it's all coming back to me, and yes, this is Alice Munro at her best (which is pretty damn good). I'm about halfway through, and a couple of the stories I remember as I read them, while
Adam Dalva
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, maybe the most consistent collection of her writing that I've read. As always, great writing and surprising structure. Nothing quite as good as Bear Came Over, but then again, what is?

A few stories of particular 5-star note
The Albanian Virgin: Starts out well, but that last page is magical.
The Jack Randa Hotel: Such a bold story - it just keeps moving.
Carried Away: Gets more and more audacious.
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Open Secrets by Alice Munro is a collection of her stories published in 1994 that I had not read before, which was something of a surprise to me since I’ve read so much of her work with so much pleasure.

Here she continues to achieve her almost novelistic effects in the most deceptively simple way: she often sticks to one location in rural Canada, a mill town on the way down, she builds significant changes in time into her narratives, and she manages to conclude her stories with a sense that the
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alice Munro is one of my favorite writers. She easily is at my top ten, and could even possibly be on my top five. I first read about “Open Secrets” from “Entertainment Weekly”’s top 100 lists of all time- and the magazine ranked this collection as the second greatest short-story collection of all time. Of course, being that Ms. Munro had been ranked and listed, I immediately sought out and dropped everything else I was reading to pore over her 1994 collection. I have read her later collections: ...more
Jul 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short stories and I just do not get along. As soon as I get invested in a story it ends? And I have to learn to love another? Novels never give me abandonment issues like this.

This was my first time reading Alice Munro. It was lovely and well-written, and I loved the focus on female protagonists throughout. My favorite story involved a librarian writing to a soldier, with deceptive results. However, because of my feelings regarding short stories, it took me six months to finish this, so let's sa
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
from my 1995 notebook:
Just finished Munro's Open Secrets - superb is not the word, for once the blurb is right - miraculous. Histories of people unravel, touch one another. The shock of those hidden depths - the child murderer in the title story, secret child abuse in Vandals. Strange, difficult, sets you thinking for days. Alice, I love you.
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Alice Munro's short stories get into my head and I like that in a book. When reading the stories in Open Secrets, I felt like I was actually living in that particulare time and place. Munro and Lahiri have made me a short story fan.
Maritza Buendía
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Open Secrets” by Alice Munro is a collection of somewhat disjointed stories with loss and mystery as recurrent themes. The 8 tales are tied to life in Ontario and tell the stories of ordinary people that appear to live in simpler times, but with complex interior lives. A few of my favorites:

Carried Away:
Louisa corresponds with Jack, a soldier from War World I. However, after the war, Jack marries someone else. Louisa remains obsessed with the failed romance and even after his untimely death, sh
Ciaran Monaghan
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can see why Alice Munro was able to win the Nobel Prize as a short story writer. These are all fully-formed stories with interesting characters and an impressive amount of story development in around 40 pages. They are far superior to any other short stories I have read. She has a particular talent for moving on in time naturally and with minimal explanation so that a lot can happen to the characters and in their lives, without losing anything or it feeling rushed. I didn't really feel any d ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel, short-stories
Favourite stories:
Carried Away - 4*
The Jack Randa Hotel -5*
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some spoilers here, beware...

It's hard to know what to say about the work of Alice Munro simply because it is so astonishing and distinctive. As one of the blurbs on _The Love of a Good Woman_ says, she has her own, particular magic. Often during my reading of _Open Secrets_ I would stop and stare out the window, trying to wrap my mind around her method. She definitely does proceed by a method. It allows her to make web-like stories in which events unfold here and then there, out of traditional
Sep 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a year to finally finish this collection of eight short stories. Although Munro is acclaimed as one of the most gifted writers of our time, I find most of her stories as gray and drab as the cold Canadian setting of these pieces. They are for the most part without much humor or irony, and seem to be a long slog against the harsh realities and accidents of life. One exception is "The Jack Randa Hotel," where an abandoned wife travels to Australia to track down her husband, poses as a s ...more
Kevin Shoop
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grade: B+

Often when I'm reading a story by Alice Munro, I forget that I'm reading a story. Her prose carries one effortlessly through fascinating characters and devastating events--whether it's the drudgery of day-to-day living, love lost or gone wrong, secret, horrific abuse, or sudden tragedy. But a tenderness for humanity remains despite the dark themes, if only through the beauty of her writing. I don't always "get" the point(s) of some of her stories, but I always enjoy the journey.
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this collection of self-contained stories many times and each time they offer up something different. Vandals is a favourite, as is The Jack Randa Hotel, but to be honest they're all very good - dense, deep, offering up their own secrets on each reread. And each time I discover bits I've forgotten or overlooked before. I can't recommend them highly enough.
Stephen Haines
(This is more like a 3.5 for me. But I wasn’t wild about it enough to make it a 4.)

This is the first thing I’ve ever picked up by Alice Munro and I really enjoyed it. I like the way her stories bounce around and make interesting use of time. It’s not like this is a totally original method, but I do feel like there’s something in the way that Munro does it that feels authentic, and at least somewhat original. Stories tend to unravel in a way that you don’t really expect, and often times there are
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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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