Dear Life: Stories - Street Smart [ DEAR LIFE: STORIES - STREET SMART ] By Munro, Alice ( Author )Nov-13-2012 Compact Disc CD-ROM – 13 Nov 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
This is a collection of short stories, some of which have been published before, and the last four pieces here are as the author herself describes them, autobiographical and not really stories as such. Munro writes with at times a broad brush stroke conveying scenes and people, giving an impression rather than a deeply descriptive story. At times we are led gradually into what has happened in the past to a character, as for instance in one story a man jumps off a train, but it isn't really until later we find out why he got off where he did, instead of waiting until he reached home. By playing with your expectations in this way Munro manages to keep you absorbed and compelled to carry on, and find out what the ultimate ending will be to each story.
Perhaps not for everyone, for a start you have to be into short stories, this collection does make for a very interesting and entertaining read that will hopefully give us much to discuss at our next meeting.
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
- great book received it very promptly - now I can prepare for my reading groupPublished 1 month ago by Jacqueline
Disappointing writing-----I will avoid Alice Munroe in the futurePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I first heard of Alice Munro when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature a few years ago. So poorly read am I that most winners are, to me, unheard of until they win. Read morePublished 5 months ago by S. Meadows
While not every story in 'Dear Life' appealed to me, and it's true that the overall effect is that of mellow, overwhelming sadness, I can absolutely see why Alice Munro was given... Read morePublished 7 months ago by WeAreWhatWeRead