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Runaway Hardcover – 3 Feb 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (3 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701177500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701177508
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.4 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

''There seems nothing missing in this yet again brilliant collection...a literary inspiration' -- Lorrie Moore

'Alice Munro has a strong claim to being the best fiction wirter in North America. Runaway is a marvel' -- Jonathan Franzen

'Her genius cannot be denied...The contemporary writer I admire above all others' -- Paul Bailey, The Independent

'Magic...It is a beautiful, echoing collection, and a demonstration of perfected and unflinching form' -- Ali Smith, Scotsman

'The stories of Alice Munro make everyone else's look like the work of babies' -- Ethan Canin

Book Description

**Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature**
The bestselling collection by the greatest short story writer in the world and winner of the Man Booker International Prize. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I think that this is one of the best volumes of fiction I've read.

I thought that that was worth a paragraph on its own. I was going to suggest that Munro appears to be one of the best short story writers of all time, but the distinction seems irrelevant. 'Runaway' isn't difficult reading, but it is worth taking it at a steady pace if you want to get the best out of it. There's often a temptation with fiction to skim what appears to be long-winded description or mundane dialogue, but nothing is wasted here, even though the stories are, at forty pages on average, quite long for short fiction. Consequently, when I was halfway through reading these stories, I felt as if I was deep into a full-length novel.

Munro's point of view is always given to a female character and the cover of my copy suggests yet another instance of a publisher aiming a female author at a female market, which doesn't do the quality of the content justice. Jonathan Frantzen, who writes the introduction, touches on this point. While it is heavily slanted toward a woman's outlook, its themes can be appreciated by men too.

Munro's characters find themselves in realistic situations, a troubled marriage, an unexpected romance, a problem of identity perhaps. Most short stories focus on the development of one thread, but by extending the form slightly, Munro is able to add the occasional twist or unexpected development, often revealing a concealed backstory. Her characters also therefore have some big decisions to make and are prone to taking the wrong course or changing their minds, as we all too often do.

Stories two to four are chronological episodes of the same character's life, but otherwise the stories are unconnected. There's a strong element of suspense in them too.
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Format: Paperback
I must qualify this review by admitting that I almost never read short stories, finding them the most frustrating of genres. I am aware however, that the genre itself requires great skill and craft to succeed, and Alice Munro obviously has both.

Alice Munro's collection in Runaway is of, arguably, the most frustrating type: the short story that is so good it can only leave you disappointed. Just as you get warm and cosy with the characters, just as you are drawn in and fully engaged, it finishes. The stories are all connected to women's lives and experiences, but not in such a way that male characters are either marginalised or sacrificed. Munro's characterisation is superb, and within a couple of pages the reader will feel her creations stepping from the book and into real life.

Her writing is at once disarmingly simple, and yet very powerful, and even though none of the stories are frightening in the least, I felt myself afraid at times. There's an invisible force, an element of suspense perhaps, that pulls the reader through each story. She really is a most remarkable writer.

A couple of the stories end in a rather vague - slightly surreal - way, that may leave some readers a little puzzled. They were the ones that struck me the most, and that I find myself pondering. Another group of three stories contain the same character, and that was quite comforting whilst they continued, although triply frustrating at the end!

If you enjoy short stories, I can't imagine you not liking this collection.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If Munro was a film-maker, she would make the sort of films I like; those which focus on character development, subtle detail and the small tragedies of everyday life.
Some short story writers I can think of are William Trevor( whom I find acidic, clever,cold and somewhat cruel) and Colette who is nearer in terms of both her innate feminism and delicate and observant style.
Neither are the same as Munro. She is neare Edith Pearlman, but less magnanimous and comforting than her. This is no criticism, it is a different style, shot through with strange observations, the difficulties of being female and feminine and still wanting it all.

She is not an overtly humorous writer, although there is humour in some of her situations; an elderly 'girl' mother being bathed with her baby granddaughter by the baby's rather hypercritical and over-educated mother.
The routing of a pastor's entrenched religious beliefs by a fiercely intelligent atheist who in her youthful argumenation, does not realise that a pathetic belief is all the man has to support him against his fear of death.
The sudden menstruation of a young girl after a suicide; the evacuation of blood somehow horribly linked in her mind with the casual way she had treated the man's loneliness.
He fear of having caused his death rendered ridiculous by a fellow traveller who falls in love with her.
You will notice that the humour is astringently delicate and rests on misunderstanding and human arrogance.
I felt the stories veracious, as though they were entirely true little insights into love, ageing, loss and the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to.
Lives fill and empty like the ebb and flow of some metaphysical tide.
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