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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book to dip into.
A great book to dip into and a wonderful introduction to Alice Munro. Many of the stories explore relationships and look at the responsibility the characters take on board for mothers, fathers, children and step-mothers at different points their lives.
Munro uses straight forward language in her stories and everyday situations, bringing the characters to life by...
Published on 27 Nov 2000

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars somewhat monotonous
Full of interesting and promising thoughts and images. But they all remain mere potential in these short stories.
They are not fulfilled, thus making the stories somewhat monotonous.

Conspicuous too how almost all the characters are "serious" and sad, full of problems. Or maybe Munro just focuses on these aspects of life. The reader can be forgiven...
Published 3 months ago by puffin


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book to dip into., 27 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Selected Stories (Paperback)
A great book to dip into and a wonderful introduction to Alice Munro. Many of the stories explore relationships and look at the responsibility the characters take on board for mothers, fathers, children and step-mothers at different points their lives.
Munro uses straight forward language in her stories and everyday situations, bringing the characters to life by their reaction to these everyday occurances.
Some of the stories are romantic, like" There's Something I've been meaning to tell you", where we get an insight into the existance of two woman Et and Char, toward the end of their lives. The woman have both loved and lost and accepted "their lot" but the return of a child hood sweetheart to the village stirs up feelings.
Munro has many strong women in these stories, and manages to give them a real degree of sensitivity and softness along side the forcefulness that enables the characters to be opened up so that we can see how they got to be the way they are.
A great book to keep on the bedside table and read every now and again or indeed share.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chekhov... Colette... Munro..., 17 April 2003
This review is from: Selected Stories (Paperback)
I discovered Alice Munro`s expansive, long-breathed, feisty stories late in the day. It was her collection `The Progress of Love` a few years ago, and I was heartstopped, exultant to have found such generous beauty, such honest and freely passionate writing. I am reading the `Selected` - taking my time with them, for each story is a world, a journey, though it only be from the house to the lake, which her readers know can be the most fascinating odyssey in itself - and marvelling anew at such gemlike works of art as `Material` and `Mobile, Montana`. Ms Munro is a great artist (in a way that, say, Doris Lessing, for all her brilliance, is not) and a very fine writer. She is by no means a `feminist writer`! Not only does such an appellation diminish and limit her achievement, it is plainly inaccurate. She writes with blazing clearness and wry compassion about women and men - as does, say, Doris Lessing...
To give this great writer less than a full 5 stars seems to me impertinent, to say the least. Read her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Selected Stories, 15 Oct 2013
This review is from: Selected Stories (Paperback)
Selected Stories by Alice Munro is a real treat for those who appreciate the short story genre and who like their fiction to be unashamedly true in tone. Comprised of twenty-three bittersweet tales of Canadian life, Selected Stories is a perfect example of Munro's writing talents, allowing her to demonstrate her incisive understanding of human nature and to offer entertaining meditations on everyday life.

All of the stories in this collection are a delight to read, but a few do particularly stand out. "Walker Brothers Cowboy" is the collection's opening story and is a masterful evocation of life on the road and an exploration of the father/daughter relationship in which a young girl accompanies her salesman father on one of his regular post-Depression era selling trips. In one particular small town they encounter an ex-girlfriend of the father and the girl is left poignantly weighing up her own mother's disappointments with marriage against the ex-girlfriend's disappointment in losing out on a life with the man she loved.

Far more melancholy is the failed relationship central to "Material", in which a woman finds herself strangely moved by a short story written by her ex-husband. The woman had always expected her ex to be a failure as a writer and, while musing on his success since their break-up, she reflects on the folly of her own decision to sacrifice her literary ambitions in order to concentrate on the mundane issues of everyday life.

Similarly, in "Postcard" there is another woman destined to be unlucky in love and seemingly unhappy in life. After receiving a postcard from her fiancée who was supposedly holidaying in Europe, the heroine discovers that her fair-weather beau has actually gone off to marry someone else. Although she had believed herself to be fairly ambivalent to him, it is only after confronting the cad about the difference between his words and his deeds that she realises just how much she really cared.

Munro's stories generally have relationships at their heart and, whether those relationships involve parents and children, husbands and wives, friends or any other social interaction, her characterisations are neat and fitting and her dialogue is spot-on. Munro has an acute sense of social interaction and familial obligation and so the relationships in her stories are always familiar, however fantastical they may at first seem. She writes female characters perhaps best of all and so the women featured in Selected Stories are at the same time strong and sensitive, fierce and loyal, shocking and appealing. In-keeping with her skilful use of character, Munro writes an unusual kind of realism so that her stories continuously ring true even when something truly outlandish is slipped into the narrative. There is a tendency towards darkness in each of the stories, not horror but the darker, more desperate side of life that is most often kept hidden, and so there are no real happy endings, rather there are moments of insight and the potential for improvement. However, this does not mean that Munro's stories are grim, merely that they stand on the bleaker side of real, and so it is still possible to find humour and even some joy in her tales.

Alice Munro is arguably one of the finest short story writers of recent times and Selected Stories is a great example of her talent and range as an author. The stories included in this volume are sublime and deeply effecting and so it is an ideal introductory volume to those new to Munro's work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is not a 'one time' read as they are stories that have many strands that can be re-read and enjoyed again - there is always, 12 Aug 2014
By 
Consumer A "ReaderAAA" (England. UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Selected Stories (Paperback)
Every time you get short stories by Alice Munro they are so pleasurable. This is not a 'one time' read as they are stories that have many strands that can be re-read and enjoyed again - there is always something extra to notice. Alice Munro often seems to have a what if scenario at a particular moment someone had just missed, just met, taken the wrong turning etc., would what happened next have changed the course of someone's life? These are real people . She has a great ability to paint in a person with all their mannerisms just in a few words.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The inside story, 9 July 2014
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All those strangers we see every day have stories to tell. Alice Munro gives them to us, with finely observed detail.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Puzzled and Frustrated, 19 May 2014
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This review is from: Selected Stories (Paperback)
You did not send the specific edition I ordered: ISBN0099732416 --the one pictured in your add and the one pictured here. The edition you sent is an older edition and missing several of her stories I needed for class. And the class was over by the time it arrived
I tried to return it to you, requesting a refund but it was returned to me marked insufficient address.
The address was the one you gave me: PRELOVED BOOKS Gatehouse C;ose Aylesbury HP198OJ

All of this frustration cost me time, $12.95 + $5.99 +$4.00 + $3.11

such disappointment that I plan to take up with AMazon directly Virginia Sargent
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3.0 out of 5 stars somewhat monotonous, 1 May 2014
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This review is from: Selected Stories (Paperback)
Full of interesting and promising thoughts and images. But they all remain mere potential in these short stories.
They are not fulfilled, thus making the stories somewhat monotonous.

Conspicuous too how almost all the characters are "serious" and sad, full of problems. Or maybe Munro just focuses on these aspects of life. The reader can be forgiven for asking himself after a while: Are there no happy people in Canada?

I do think that Alice Munro has - maybe not discovered but - mastered a certain area of things to write about which is not often written about, a certain niche of honest thoughts about life and relationships.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A massive disappointment, 17 April 2014
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This review is from: Selected Stories (Paperback)
Alice Munro - selected stories
Nobel prize in Literature 2013 ISBN 9780099732419

A massive disappointment. The marketing hype for the 2013 Nobel Prize winner led me to expect a collection of the very best short stories with a Canadian scent - a landscape of colour and advantage with folk passionate and resourceful facing all sorts of dangers. Instead I was lured into an author’s weird domain – an Eden project - full of ageing soulless puppetry. The Canadian Mountie and Mr Punch remained hidden with all their surprises – pistol, baby and stick. This selection falls short of the best of our current short story genre.

23 stories in this edition with18 titles under 3 words

Canada surely one of the most exciting countries in the world: animals, Native American Indians, breathtaking landscapes, wild journeys. In this selection of short stories the reader won’t meet the animals or any Native Americans. You won’t be making any of the great Canadian journeys by train or by ship. You won’t canoe up rivers or across lakes, the word caribou synonymous with one of the great Canadian wild life adventures never appears in Munro’s text. There will be no danger of polar bears in fact no bears are sighted, no wolverine, no moose no wolves. Are we in Canada? Are Alice Munro’s tales set in Canada?

Well yes but you enter a sort of Eden like Project where Munro scrutinises the characters in her small town with an occasional visit to Vancouver. Some of the townsfolk folk have money most have less. You will encounter divorce, separation, sexual attraction but you wont learn anything of Politics or Canadian sports and nuggets are not to be found – no gold no mining - the people described are farmers, teachers and retailers. Are these folk Canadians – Protestant, Catholic passwords abound – where are the French? Missing. The story participants are church people so we won’t meet with excess, no need for Canada’s Mounted Police. Not a single Mountie story? No not one. There are no regulations brought to our attention, life is unremarkable there’s no passion or danger in Munro’s bubble dome. There is a smell - a smell of stale death. Maybe it’s the weather. It can’t be since we learn nothing of the weather or the environment. In Munro’s domain the fear is the woman’s ageing process this occupies the centre of her storytelling. There is no death from riding or Calgary stampedes just hospital and nursing care. It’s a gray, gray bubble and reading was a struggle. Entertainment value over 5 days - zero:

Research value 1/10
Prose 6/10 - so dense it obstructs pace
Politics 3/10 Page 269 - he guessed its subversive content and took to calling me Mrs Gromyko. Apart from this reference no politicians or views surface.
Chase 1/10 no pace - stories grind on with predictable endings

Humour/poetry - Sparse.

Instead of being entertained and rewarded with information I have sat like an analyst sits and I have listened to the author’s complaint. Am I expected to uncover her problem? Her pictures are soulless – the language dense, swamp dense – her prose refuses to yield the animal, the instinct. She has seen Canada but she reveals nothing to her reader beyond the vegetation. Where did Canada’s carnivore disappear? Analysts offer advice – sort out your mother problem they proclaim. But what if she’s like Munro’s Stella in Lichen page 243:

‘There’s the sort of woman who has to come bursting out of the female envelope at this age, flaunting fat or an indecent scrawniness, sprouting warts and facial hair, refusing to cover pasty veined legs almost gleeful about it, as if this was what she’d wanted to do all along. Man – haters, from the start.’

You need to use your nose my analyst would say. Munro continues Page 248:

“You know, there’s a smell women get,” says David, standing in the living-room doorway. “It’s when they know you don’t want them anymore. Stale”

This concentration on woman and her body is everywhere - page 186: “He is disgusted by her ageing body.”

Yet the wallpaper has seen everything – Page 238 “orgies and fancy combinations and non stop screwing.” Start with the wallpaper I would suggest to Munro, but I have no time to analyse Munro or to hang paper. And I have no place in my library for this book.

I have included the following additional paragraphs containing my notes to illustrate the frustration experienced by a reader when a collection lacks balance.

I departed from my normal review mode because the experience of reading these 23 stories was such a struggle. After reading the first story – Walker Brothers Cowboy-and 9 random choices I had to read an Annie Proulx and a Gabriel Garcia Marquez story just to remind myself that ‘Wow’ factors and unexpected endings exist. Not a single story in my random choice of ten Munro selections had the ‘wow’ factor. Perhaps it’s her prose. Nothing attracts me with her writing she doesn’t have the Proulx magic or the pace of Garcia Marquez.

So what themes were encountered - The first random ten all fit comfortably into the risk box: The salesman’s risk, suicide risk, child abuse risk, flasher risk, truck driving risk, swimming pool and child risk, religious risk, woman alone and sex risk. The author’s concern with the ageing process in women permeates most stories. She switches between past memories and present this is her trademark but I’m missing research – history, politics. A few dates appear in some of the stories but there are no links, no nuggets that one might wish to pursue. I am immersed in stepparents, the change in women, coping mechanisms - I am new to this theatre. Let’s see what Day 2 will bring.

I’ve read another 3 stories I had planned 5 but I am struggling: Lichen, Fits and Meneseteung. Lichen I’ve benchmarked. Theme - the sexual ageing process in woman accompanied by the carnal need in man. The attraction of the male for younger fitter women - no surprises here then.

Fits - another suicide. Meneseteung - the name of a river that flows from Lake Huron – a poetess and an oil prospector who found salt: now a magistrate and her suitor. In these three stories the endings offered no wow factor, the prose was unremarkable, I found no research links that made me rush to secure a connection, the tales were boring.

In Lichen the children of the broken marriage Paul and Deirdre have grown up. In Fits the main subject Peg has two sons by her first marriage yet we learn nothing of any special relationship with them and I ask whether Munro’s remaining stories will reveal children’s’ relationships with blood parents. Children’ relationships appear secondary to the need to record every adult sexual attraction and conquest. In Meneseteung the opportunity of a marriage elapses symbolised in the leitmotiv of a woman’s menstrual cycle and the night battering another woman receives in the town’s street. That’s not wow and the pace is so slow I am flagging.

I’ve taken a days break and returned fresh to commence: Differently, Carried Away and Vandals all three involve attraction with the last two involving some obstacle encountered. Again passages repeat the authors interest in the ageing process and the movement of time across many years in Canadian territory. At last the supreme product placement Coca –Cola P 384 and quotations by Aristotle and Rousseau page 397. I did not uncover any wow in the endings. I read again the flattery supplied on the back cover - every major broad sheet in England is represented applauding this collection. I am in disagreement. So on to day 4.

I have just read four stories: Dance of the Happy Shades, Postcard, Images and The Ottawa Valley. As I consider my review I am aware that there is no DANGER in any of her stories - no danger at all – so when the story is muddied by a prose so dense allowing no pace the reader loses scent. The result is that it is difficult to concentrate. No wonder I am disappointed. These four stories fit into Munro’s small town Canadian setting. The piano teacher with the annual party – this year a handicapped children’s story. Quick on to the next - Postcard – and the jilted sexual partner. Finally Images - father and daughter out on the snowy waste pulling lines for muskrat – a highly enjoyable story - at last danger, there had to be one story that fulfilled my requirement. As a young reader I was spellbound by a tale of a wolverine out in the Canadian forest surely Munro had experiences of that fabulous Canadian forest palette – not evidenced in this collection.

Finally her family picture in the Ottawa valley – I’m yawning. Research is absent apart from Images. But danger was missing and pace and the wow ending. Still no wow and I have read 20 from 23.

The marketing hype misrepresents this collection. No one bothered to consider the fit and mission of the revised collection - how could all danger be filtered, purged, missing in a country like Canada? This selection does Munro no justice, Canada no justice and foregrounds the unreliability of press commentary. It’s a disgrace.

Last three stories and a surprise!
Material, The Moons of Jupiter and The Progress of Love.
Material – Divorce from a writer, one child new husband - boring awful. We are back to the same problem and her father in the nursing home in the second story. I use one word - dreadful. And now the last story number 23 drawn at random. It’s the summer of 1947 she is twelve and once again the story safely emerges with an aunt visiting from California, The wall paper is described and the process of fitting the paper on the walls – I am about to scream. Then a woman stands on a stool below a hangman’s noose. And at last a wow factor and an unexpected turn. I can hardly believe it after 23 stories - a wow!

In this selection I have not left Canada once. Apart from a brief halt in Vancouver I have been stuck in a small town with small ideas. Trump says think big or go home. Munro stayed at home and apart from ‘The Progress of Love,’ which I will remember, most of the remaining 22 stories are unremarkable. This is not the book to uncover a Nobel Prize Winner. She lurks elsewhere – perhaps next to a portion of Dulse. But since danger evades her, and Canada is so vast, without useful leads to research I am at a loss to explain her success. Perhaps in consolation I should read the poem referenced in Meneseteung – Champlain at the mouth of the Meneseteung - for a comprehensive list of plants, trees and the elusive missing animals.

I have family in Canada and the American Midwest where they still farm they arrived in the 19 century bringing farming skills with them. There have been some terrible disasters, nothing approaching a disaster is described by Munro. Munro’s Canada reminds me of Cornwall’s Eden project – a vegetative bubble where no danger exists. Munro didn’t even mention the Canadian beaver well she did in Lichen but the beaver on that photograph wasn’t going to bite.
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5.0 out of 5 stars breathtaking, 17 Dec 2013
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Well, she did win the Nobel Prize for in life's work in literature and she did start a whole new genre of writing in Canada so as an aspiring writer she'll do as a role model. (tongue in cheek, everyone)
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4.0 out of 5 stars A delight., 19 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Selected Stories (Paperback)
This is a delightful collection of short stories. I purchased originally to use with some tudents. What an excellent choice. Here are beautifully crafted stories by a very accomplished writer
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Selected Stories (Vintage Classics) by Alice Munro (Paperback - 2 Sep 2010)
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