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Dear Life [Paperback]

Alice Munro
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 July 2013

A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction
A Best Book of the Year: The Atlantic, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, Vogue, AV Club

In story after story in this brilliant new collection, Alice Munro pinpoints the moment a person is forever altered by a chance encounter, an action not taken, or a simple twist of fate. Her characters are flawed and fully human: a soldier returning from war and avoiding his fiancée, a wealthy woman deciding whether to confront a blackmailer, an adulterous mother and her neglected children, a guilt-ridden father, a young teacher jilted by her employer. Illumined by Munro’s unflinching insight, these lives draw us in with their quiet depth and surprise us with unexpected turns. And while most are set in her signature territory around Lake Huron, some strike even closer to home: an astonishing suite of four autobiographical tales offers an unprecedented glimpse into Munro’s own childhood. Exalted by her clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, Dear Life shows how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Vintage (30 July 2013)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0099578646
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099578642
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 2.1 x 17.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Alice Munro.can create a whole world in a short story - these stories are only 20 or 30 pages long, but they live in the mind like novels. These are stories about the stories we tell ourselves, and they are first rate" (Evening Standard)

"A quiet revelation... Dear Life is full of remarkable moments in ordinary lives and is imbued with an aching sadness" (Laurie Sansom Herald)

"In this superb collection of short stories, the acclaimed Canadian writer shows repeatedly how apparently ordinary lives can be infused with dramatic intensity" (Mail on Sunday)

"A collection of truly beautiful short stories, perfectly crafted in a way that leaves no wanting feeling. Profound, poignant and undeniably powerful, this truly is the short story at its finest" (The Bookbag)

"A writer who has refined her remarkable talents over a long lifetime, a writer whose mastery of the craft has reached a level that her nickname, "Canada's Chekhov" feels emptied of all hyperbole. Beautifully written and ambitious in terms of form" (Billy O'Callaghan Irish Examiner) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

**Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature**

The brilliant new collection of stories by the winner of the 2009 Man Booker International Prize

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly last, possibly best 22 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Canadian writer Alice Munro is the undisputed queen of the short story format and this collection, which the author (approaching 82) hints may be her last, may also be her best.

The stories are all set in familiar Munro territory around Lake Huron and all of them revolve around small incidents in generally modest, some would say ordinary, lives. That is not their limitation but their strength. There are no extra trappings to distract from the sensibilities of the (generally female) central characters. The simplicity in the telling belies the complexity of the felt experience but brings us in to experience it virtually at first hand. There is a particularly quality of wistfulness about these late stories, as if the author has turned for one last contemplative look back down a road travelled and not to be returned upon, as if each story carries a personal memory, not simply a story-teller's conjuration.

This is certainly true of the last four pieces which the author introduces with an explanation that these are indeed memoir not stories. They gain an extra poignancy by being avowedly autobiographical, and they add to the sense of valediction. I do hope, however, this is not to be Ms Munro's farewell.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 8 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Alice Munro is one of the best writers in the English speaking world. I have read none better. This collection confirms this and more. The stories are sparse, but contain more about the human condition than most novels twice the length. Some of the stories hit you in the pit of the stomach with their strange and rather frightening denouments. It takes several days before you can go back and continue reading. One imparticular is 'Train'. The thing about her stories is that you can go back and read them again and again and get a completely different angle on a story. Like life really. This collection is nothing but brilliant as with all her books.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best 28 Dec 2013
Although this collection of 14 short stories helped Alice Munro win the Nobel Prize for literature, and the cover of my edition says `Winner of The Man Booker International Prize', this is misleading. Both awards are recognition for a long history of great writing. And fair enough, who can argue with that? But they don't apply specifically to these latest works, which I don't rate as highly as some of her earlier collections.

As with most of Alice Munro's work, we cover long periods of time in a short space, usually with a quick summing up at the end, the main theme being, I suppose, how lives change; birth, sex and death.
Most of the stories are set around the end of the Second World War, some a little later, and one thing that struck me, about some of them at least, was the way the main female character was so easily led into a sexual relationship by a man who was clearly taking advantage of her, as if she had no say in the matter. (I'm thinking here especially of the second story, Amundsen, but it applies to the first one as well, and several others too). Perhaps this is the author's point; that women were badly treated by domineering men even more in those days than they are now, and they sometimes submitted without apparent protest.

My main criticism is that some of these stories require the reader to believe in unlikely events, without actually making them seem believable. Short tories don't give much scope for things such as plot and character development, so there's a risk that they just seem like a pointless attempt at a bit of drama; someone dies unexpectedly, but so what? It's only fiction. We aren't given the chance to really get involved, so why should we care?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spare and soaring 3 Mar 2013
Quiet, gimmick-free brilliance. A haunting, insightful storyteller of small town lives and the past, Munro is expert at communicating what's left unsaid, with this collection carrying the added resonance of an apparent valediction.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing Collection 5 Dec 2012
Alice Munro's latest book is an intriguing collection of fourteen short stories, set in rural towns near to Lake Huron, Ontario, where the author lives. In the first story 'To Reach Japan' we meet Greta, a poet who is married to Peter and has a young child, Katy. Greta is travelling on a train to house sit for a friend, while Peter starts a new job in the far north of the country. On the train, Greta meets a young actor and, after several drinks he suggests they go to his berth for sex. Greta leaves her sleeping daughter in their compartment and gives in to a moment of total abandonment with her young lover. When she returns to her compartment, Katy has disappeared and although they are later reunited, Greta is shocked that her moment of passion could have resulted in the permanent loss of her daughter. Feeling dreadfully guilty, Greta vows to always put her daughter first, so when she arrives at her destination and is met by an acquaintance with a "determined and celebratory" kiss, is Greta tempted or does she remember her silent promise to Katy and spurn his advances?

In 'Gravel' we are introduced to two sisters, who live in a trailer with their mother and her lover, close to a potentially dangerous water-filled quarry. The girls' mother has left their safe and boring father after becoming pregnant with her lover's child, and the two sisters' lives are consequently dramatically changed. The younger sister begins to adapt, but when her older sister, who is struggling to cope with their change in circumstances, commits an act that has terrible consequences for her and the rest of her family, our young heroine is left shocked and emotionally scarred. When years later she is advised to "Accept everything and then tragedy disappears...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The author shows us melancholy of our everyday existence, of the world...
"Dear Life: Stories" by Alice Munro is her latest story collection in which with her special literary style she succeeds to shows us melancholy of our everyday... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Denis Vukosav
5.0 out of 5 stars Elusive and inspiring
These stories are subtle while evoking an array of characters, individual and fascinating. When the image or shape of a character stays with you long after you've read it, you know... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Gruffalo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Organic Writing
Such luminous writing - and I'm not just saying that because she won the Nobel Prize last year, but that she is truly an exceptional writer of the short form, as I have observed of... Read more
Published 10 days ago by J. Ang
5.0 out of 5 stars Short stories
These stories are short and easy to read, they are interesting and entertaining. Each story presents an event that changes someone's life.
Published 10 days ago by Alexandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
These are stories which force you to ask questions and make your brain work, but in a good way. A stunning writer who I've only just discovered. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Mrs. A. Stopford
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I was really looking forward to this one but found it rather dull. Stories felt quite repetitive in theme and a bit listless.
Published 24 days ago by B. Gibb
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing compared to what I expected
I thought most of the stories were well written but some , particularly the first two were rather confusing. Read more
Published 1 month ago by PETER ROBSON
3.0 out of 5 stars My first Munro
Definitely a good author but maybe not the best for my first read of hers, I'm not rushing out to read more.
Published 1 month ago by Yo Landa Hoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet
A lovely, delicate book - reminded me of faded rose petals, full of nostalia for a time past. However, the past is also seen as brutal, with children being neglected and lovers... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. A. Foss
4.0 out of 5 stars Calm, gentle engaging
I don't read a lot of short stories but bought this after I heard she won the Nobel prize. I can see why. I loved 'going' to 1950s Canada
Published 1 month ago by Dr Chris
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