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Dear Life Paperback – 3 Oct 2013

4.1 out of 5 stars 119 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (3 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099578638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099578635
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Deep and surprising and unsparing" (Helen Simpson Guardian)

"As rich and astonishing as anything she has ever done before" (New York Review of Books)

"In this book Munro has laid bare the foundations of her fiction as never before. Lovers of her writing must hope this is not, in fact, her finale. But if it is, it’s spectacular" (Ruth Scurr Daily Telegraph)

"Another dazzling collection of short stories, provincial and universal in equal measure" (Sara Wheeler Observer)

"A slight sense of withholding gives Munro's prose its gracefulness, and allows intimacy without danger. After many years, many collections and many wonderful stories, readers may feel they know everything about Alice Munro, especially as so many of her characters lead lives similar to her own. In fact, we know very little about her. This is one of the reasons readers become dizzy with love for Munro. This other reason is that she is so damn good" (Anne Enright Guardian)

"Alice Munro is one of our greatest living writers, and this new collection of stories…is essential reading for anyone who cares about literature, storytelling and language, or who savours the deep enjoyment of a writer at the height of her powers…These stories remind us of the world Munro was born into…And they remind us, therefore, how lucky we are to have Munro herself and her subtle, intelligent and true work" (Naomi Alderman Financial Times)

"Told with magnificent understatement" (Christina Appleyard Daily Mail)

"Deceptively artless...Munro has no need for tricks; there is nothing strange. Just everyday life, in all its plain, abundant richness and sorrow" (Claire Allfree Metro)

"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)

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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
This is our current book group choice and I must also admit my first foray into Alice Munro's writings. One thing that perhaps I should make people aware of, if like me this is your first time, then disregard the hype. There is a lot of hype surrounding Alice Munro, and this book as well, some of it deserved, but also quite a bit that is perhaps misleading, so forget what you may have read or been told about this and just read it and base it on the merits that you find in it.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 the Nobel prize. Her writing covers such an enormous range of human emotions yet it is taut as a drum, no waffling whatsoever - sentimental or otherwise. This relentless economy is perhaps what some readers find hard to cope with; plus, people nowadays seem to whine all the time that 'Oooo, argh, the characters aren't to my liking!', to which I would say grow up, people, or go back to reading children's books. In the adult world, the gold standard is NOT to produce saccharine, "likeable-at-all-cost" stuff, but well-written characters and stories.

And boy, does Alice Munro know how to do it. This book contains 'Amundsen' which is, for my money, the most beautiful and heart-breaking love story ever written (bar Joyce's 'The Dead'). It is so elegant and atmospheric, I felt transported inside of a 1940s film, and it tugs at your heartstrings without even trying. I can't ever remember shouting 'Whaaaat?!' in the middle and then being reduced to tears by a single, unexpected little sentence at the end of one little story.

Sure, we won't feel all warm and fuzzy inside after reading this book, but then again, real life also rarely leaves us feeling full of beans, does it? I love this writer for showing so much respect for us, her readers, by refusing to sugar-coat anything.
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Format: Paperback
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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