Alice Munro has a genius for entering the lives of ordinary people and capturing the passions and contradictions that lie just below the surface. In this brilliant new collection she takes mainly the lives of women - unruly, ungovernable, unpredictable, unexpected, funny, sexy and completely recognisable - and brings their hidden desires bubbling ...
Alice Munro has a genius for entering the lives of ordinary people and capturing the passions and contradictions that lie just below the surface. In this brilliant new collection she takes mainly the lives of women - unruly, ungovernable, unpredictable, unexpected, funny, sexy and completely recognisable - and brings their hidden desires bubbling to the surface. The love of a good woman is not as pure and virtuous as it seems: as in her title story it can be needy and murderous. Here are women behaving badly, leaving husbands and children, running off with unstuitable lovers, pushing everyday life to the limits, and if they don't behave badly, they think surprising and disturbing thoughts.
Brilliant. Alice Munro at her very best. Engaging, sharply-drawn and often funny.
Sep 29, 2007
A Woolfian Unknowingness
This collection by Alice Munro is remarkable precisely because the stories are enigmatic, mysterious, multilayered, and often resist resolution. At times they even feel improvisatory, yet a false note is never struck. They are also quiet stories, but it's their complex depths that set the author apart from her contemporaries. Nor are they minimalist; some of them are quite long. "Chekhovian" is a word often applied to Munro's fiction, which is certainly true of its knowledge of human foibles and failings. But here, in Flannery O'Connor's phrase, Munro "tends toward mystery." This is a fiction that denies closure, willingly embraces open-endedness, and suggests even a tentative Woolfian unknowingness about the possible future.
Publishers Weekly, 1998-09-07 Again mining the silences and dark discretions of provincial Canadian life, Munro shines in her ninth collection, peopled with characters whose sin is the original one: to have eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The good woman of the title storyŠa practical nurse who has already sacrificed her happiness to keep a deathbed promiseŠmust choose whether to believe another moribund patient's confession or to ignore it and seize a second chance at the life she has missed. The drama of deathbed revelation is acted out, again, between a dying man and the woman at his bedside in "Cortes Island," when a stroke victim exposes his deepest secret to his part-time caretaker, in what may be the last act of intimacy left to him, and in the process puts his finger on the fault lines in her marriage. In the extraordinary "Before the Change," a young woman confronts her father with the open secret of his life and reveals the hidden facts of hers; she is unprepared, however, for the final irony of his legacy. The powerful closing story, "My Mother's Dream," is about a secret in the making, showing how a young mother almost kills her baby and how that near fatality, revealed at last to the daughter when she is 50, binds mother and daughter. Compressing the arc of a novella, Munro's long, spare storiesŠthere are eight hereŠ span decades and lay bare not only the strata of the solitary life but also the seamless connections and shared guilt that bind together even the loneliest of individuals. First serial to the New Yorker. (Nov.) FYI: Four of Munro's previous collections are available in Vintage paperback.
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