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The Progress of Love [Hardcover]

Alice Munro
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sep 1986
WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE® IN LITERATURE 2013

Alice Munro, who received the National Book Critics Circle Award for her latest collection of stories, The Love of a Good Woman, is widely acknowledged as a modern master of the short story. In this earlier collection, she demonstrates all of those strengths that have won her so many literary accolades.

A divorced woman returns to her childhood home where she confronts the memory of her parents' confounding yet deep bond. The accidental near-drowning of a child exposes the fragility of the trust between children and parents. A young man, remembering a terrifying childhood incident, wrestles with the responsibility he has always felt for his younger brother. In these and other stories Alice Munro proves once again a sensitive and compassionate chronicler of our times. Drawing us into the most intimate corners of ordinary lives, she reveals much about ourselves, our choices, and our experiences of love.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Alfred a Knopf; First Edition edition (Sep 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394552725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394552729
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 12.4 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 99,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"She has a touch of genius" (Mail on Sunday)

"Whatever it is that makes some writing come alive in every phrase and sentence, Alice Munro has it... I wouldn't willingly miss one of her stories" (Sunday Times)

"Munro has been compared with Proust, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and remains - though dazzling - quite unperturbed and unaffected, her writing smooth and supple" (Financial Times)

"A work of great brilliance and depth... Munro's power of analysis, of sensation, and thoughts, is almost Proustian in its sureness" (New Statesman)

"Only a few writers continue to create those full-bodied miniature universes of the old school. Some of her short stories are so ample and fulfilling that they feel like novels. They present whole landscapes and cultures, whole families of characters" (Anne Tyler) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

**Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature**

'One of the best short story writers alive' Philip Howard, The Times

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thesaurus exhausted of superlatives... 20 April 2012
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
To date, I've read five of Munro's collections of short stories, and have reviewed four of them, including this one. The others that are reviewed are: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose and Too Much Happiness. Each I've given my own "extra" rating of "six stars." Of the more than 600 reviews currently posted, I've reached for the extra dimensional star only 25 times. And now it will be four times for Munro; the only author for me to go "extra dimensional" more than once. Obviously, I am...er...ah...deeply infatuated.

Regrettably, my review cannot hope to do her justice. For me, it is the edgy intensity of her insights into the daily lives of facially very unremarkable people. Her stories twist and turn; predicting the outcome is a fool's game. There is deep clarity in the meaning of her prose, which, of course, can describe some of the complex ambiguities of the human condition. Many of her stories span a lifetime and she can pinpoint how a childhood incident affects the character when later, they are in the nursing home.

Imagine life with a given name of "Euphemia"? She is the central character in the short story that lends its title to the collection. Her mother, Marietta tried to kill herself. Marietta's sister Beryl visits, with Mr. Florence in tow.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love and grudges growing underground 13 Dec 2013
By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Alice Munro, whose short stories remind me of the work of the "groundbreaking" Katherine Mansfield, seems to break every "rule" of creative writing courses. On a rough estimate frequently up to around 13,000 words in length, stories digress and ramble from a central theme that has to be deduced, although it may remain unclear until the end. Plot is unimportant, although certain "key" events emerge in what sometimes proves to be a carefully planned order.

Tension may arise over shocking events - like a person drowning - with anticipation fed by the knowledge that the crisis may come in the middle of the tale, then may be allowed drift away to a bland, even incomplete-seeming ending, or the drama may itself be defused abruptly, or ebb away. Munro's attention flits between people's insights, often derived from the minor events of life, a strong sense of place, or scraps of conversation which have an authentic ring, as if based on comments overheard (say, young children talking) but embellished to fit the situation.

Munro explores the thoughts and relationships of ordinary people carrying out their daily tasks in smalltown Canada against the backdrop of lakes, forests, changing weather and shape-changing winter snow. She draws heavily on her own situation: father a farmer, mother a perhaps stern teacher, who fell ill when Monro was still young, possibly creating the dilemma of whether the latter should sacrifice herself to stay at home as a carer, like many of the women in her tales, or strike out to claim her freedom as Munro did. She writes of early marriages, motherhood, divorce and second partners, all part of her own life.
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By Philip Mayo VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Another beautiful compilation of stories which gently open windows through which we can better look on life and love and loss and loneliness, and ultimately understand ourselves a little more clearly and with a lot more love.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Injured people, small lights of happiness. 2 Sep 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Alice Munro is such a fine writer that she can take some
fifty-odd characters over the course of a story collection and
make them seem like various aspects of a complex and
sensitive personality. These stories are careful and elegant,
and writers will note Munro's idiosyncratically beautiful use
of unexpected adjectives. But even without such wonderful
writing, her stories would speak for themselves: her characters
live life directly, simply, and often painfully, and they have
more feeling than they can express. Munro does it for them. This collection includes
"The Moon in the Orange Street Skating Rink," one of the
most moving stories I can imagine. Read it and weep.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very solid introduction 31 Aug 2001
By Philip Huang - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Mid-period Munro, when she began in earnest to explore a talent for expansiveness. The title story is as fine as anything she's written. The final pages reap deliciously what the story's juxtaposed timelines and plots have set up. You walk away from the story shaking your head, sighing, aching. Not as fine a collection as The Moons of Jupiter, also out of the same period in her career, but still hard to beat by another writer in the medium. It seems short stories have waited for Munro for too long, and we are too privileged to be readers in her lifetime.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius 17 May 2001
By Mike Vachow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Alice Munro is, by my reckoning, the greatest short story writer of our time. Her collection, The Progress of Love, is ample proof. I recommend her work with trepidation to aspiring short story writers because her writing is intimidatingly exquisite. Charles Baxter or Lorrie Moore could profit from a session in the batting cage with Munro, but for most everybody else, it would be like taking your Tee-Ball Leaguer for a hitting tutorial with Ted Williams.
What's so good about Munro's writing? Foremost is her precision. The center of the short story writer's craft is economy. It's very difficult to find a word that doesn't advance both story and theme in Munro's work. The reader finds himself stopping to ponder passages not because they're opaque but because they are so powerfully rendered and so intricately woven. I've taught "Monsieur Les Deux Chapeaux" for seven years, and Ross's moment on the bridge never fails to transport me and my students. I don't expect to find an end to my thought about this moment or the story itself. It will unquestionably remain a short story by which I measure all others.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Haunting 24 Sep 2009
By Richard Pittman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This was my first Alice Munro collection and I will read more. I liked the collection but perhaps Alice hasn't spun her magic on me quite like she has on others. In this collection she writes about very typical lives and slightly atypical events. Most of the stories don't really have a beginning and an end but are rather slices of lives. Munro gives strong insight into people's inner lives and thoughts.

Each story is well crafted and Munro's style is very straight forward. Most stories take place in rural Ontario with a little bit of Toronto thrown in.

I titled the review "haunting" because I came away feeling that I'd been spying on the inner thoughts of others in a portion of their every day lives.

I was particularly touched by Monsieur Les Deux Chapeaux which told the the stories of twin brothers. One is a typical man and the other is somewhat mentally challenged. Their relationship is both interesting and touching.

There are other great stories as well. I honestly needed to take a break from the book at one point and return to it after a couple of days.

Munro is an excellent writer but in totality I'm not sure if she's my cup of tea. I'll need to read more.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thesaurus exhausted of superlatives... 20 April 2012
By John P. Jones III - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
To date, I've read five of Munro's collections of short stories, and have reviewed four of them, including this one. The others that are reviewed are: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories, The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose and Too Much Happiness: Stories. Each I've given my own "extra" rating of "six stars." Of the more than 600 reviews currently posted, I've reached for the extra dimensional star only 25 times. And now it will be four times for Munro; the only author for me to go "extra dimensional" more than once. Obviously, I am...er...ah...deeply infatuated.

Regrettably, my review cannot hope to do her justice. For me, it is the edgy intensity of her insights into the daily lives of facially very unremarkable people. Her stories twist and turn; predicting the outcome is a fool's game. There is deep clarity in the meaning of her prose, which, of course, can describe some of the complex ambiguities of the human condition. Many of her stories span a lifetime and she can pinpoint how a childhood incident affects the character when later, they are in the nursing home.

Imagine life with a given name of "Euphemia"? She is the central character in the short story that lends its title to the collection. Her mother, Marietta tried to kill herself. Marietta's sister Beryl visits, with Mr. Florence in tow. Church is part of their lives, and how much is conveyed with such details as in the after-service restaurant that they dine in, on this very special occasion (remember, way back when, going out to eat occurred on only very special occasions?) they served the mash potatoes with an ice cream scoop. Imagine your childhood home turned into hippie commune, and the man you are with jokes about the "orgies" that must have occurred in every room. 30 intense pages, of a life, with supporting characters. A takeaway at the end: "Moments of kindness and reconciliation are worth having...in the setups some people like myself have now, than they were in those old marriages, where love and grudges could be growing underground, so confused and stubborn, it must have seemed they had forever."

And what does "Lichen" really refer to in the second story? The setting is a traditional summer cottage on Lake Huron. There are the women involved in David's life, an ex-wife, a wife, a girlfriend. From the sensitive portrait of Euphemia, and the complex turns in her life, Munro goes straight to the heart of a real scumbag, in David. "Monsieur les Deux Chapeau," the third story, is Ross, a very slow-witted, perhaps retarded lover of cars. His older brother, by a year, Colin, takes care of him. Colin is married to Glenna, and their child is Lynnette. Which thread, of several, will the story follow? Is it the concern of Nancy, a French teacher, who is worried that the engine in the car Ross is re-building is too big for the crankshaft, or is it a flashback to Ross and Colin's youth, and a telling incident that defines their relationship?

And who among us parents has not had the many worries of parenthood, and fears for a child's safety? The "Miles, Montana" story involves how easily your child might drown, certainly bringing flashbacks from my more youthful parenting. "Moon at Orange Street Skating Rink" starts in youth, and sneaking into the rink without paying, and then fast forwards a half century, coming back to the town, and looking up a friend of youth who never left the small town. How and what will she remember? Tidbits, addictively enticing from a few other stories: In "Jess and Meribeth," there is the husband who was an Aussie who walked out of Burma during the war; the high school friends who split over an imaginary affair, and Jess, who studies her Dostoevsky. In "Eskimo," is the woman on the plane being abducted, and does one have an obligation to "get involved" and tell the authorities? "Circle of Prayer" deals with the reaction of teenagers to the death of a classmate in a car accident. "Queer Streak" deals with a psychotic mind, who sends her father anonymous, threatening letters.

It is the sheer range and intensity of Munro's characters, and her concise depictions of the vital details that is the ultimate strength in her writing. The Nobel Prize is still overdue. Another 6-star nudge in that direction; there is at least consistence in the repetitive evaluations.
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