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Selected Stories is a volume of short stories by Alice Munro, published by McClelland and Stewart in It collects stories from her eight previously published.
Table of contents
- The Undivided Self
- New Selected Stories by Alice Munro: review
- Selected Stories by Alice Munro
- Selected Stories
Her characters are play out their dramas on a stage of society, chafing of the relationships with lovers and family or social constructs, instead of on the playing field of plot.
The Undivided Self
Very rarely are the plot mechanics the take-away message of a story. She resembles the Russian master in a number of ways. She is fascinated with the failings of love and work and has an obsession with time. There is the same penetrating psychological insight; the events played out in a minor key; the small town settings. Her skill at describing the constituency of the environment is equal to her ability to get below the surface of the lives of her characters.
While her earliest stories are typically shorter and play out through a shorter amount of time, her later stories are vast and encompass the whole of ones life. Her characters are often confronting time itself in her later stories, be it a confrontation with their impending end, or to find their place within the greater society or family system as the years fall away. They are caught in a sort of limbo between the person they were and they person they will become with the story often ending just of the fringes of any sort of resolution.
Instead of positioning characters in high-energy situations, Munro constructs her stories around the mundane. Her fiction never strays from a portrait of reality, of life as we all know it, and acted out by everyday individuals. While often nothing striking or particularly plot-point worthy occurs, Munro is able to deliver an emotional and psychological punch through the tiny, ordinary details that make up our day-to-day.
Her acute observations exploit the tiniest of details to reveal a startlingly large amount of character and information, be it the way a character dresses, speaks to strangers, or the methods in which they attempt to keep a household. For Munro, the world and people in it are like poetry where she is able to extract the greatest amount from the small ideas. The criticisms for her work primarily focus on a lack of versatility in plot or voice.
The voice is often level from story to story, yet, especially with this selected stories collection, she manages to keep the delivery fresh by attempting different story telling devices. Carried Away , which is quite possibly my favorite of hers, begins with the correspondence of a librarian and a soldier during WWII and then moves to a third-person narrative in the second half, while Wilderness Station has the final third of the story shift to characters two generations down the line from the characters of previous segments and allows the reader to fill in the gaps through hints in dialogue and the interaction of characters to understand how the former plot concluded.
While this collection varies in themes, the individual books of hers usually have a common theme for which the stories build upon. She also revisits characters in some books, checking in on them at various stages of their lives, which I felt added to the stories and felt like visiting an old friend as opposed to adding to what is considered by some to be recycling ideas and failing to rise from the same monotone of voice.
Each time I dive back in, I am always glad to discover that Munro still satisfies and meets my ever-changing tastes in literature. Her stories are moving, insightful, witty, and always leave you feeling as if you had just spent time in the company of a friend. When a woman goes out she carries everything that happened in the room along with her. View all 51 comments. Mar 07, Dia rated it it was amazing. This collection of short stories will let the reader feel thoroughly familiar with, though never bored by, Munro's style.
There are certain things she almost always does once past her earliest works: In a restaurant, I told my husband that Munro's characters are just slightly more interesting than actual people tend to be. It seemed to me that the man sitting near us overheard me say that, and I worried for a moment that he might have felt insulted -- then I wondered: Munro has been compared to Chekhov and Tolstoy, but I think her writing is slightly less philosophical and more titillating than is theirs - and better for solitary twilight indulging.
Oct 31, Dolors rated it it was amazing Shelves: The randomness of life, the fine line that separates tragedy from the quotidian, and the silent cracks that grow till they can't be mended after years of repressed grudges. The desperation of a woman who knows her marriage is going to end and her prayers so that the story doesn't repeat with her two daughters. As it is usual with Munro, there is no neat closure, just a fragmented glimpse into a life and a stolen glance into what might have been, out of sheer serendipity. Merciless tragedy or sim The randomness of life, the fine line that separates tragedy from the quotidian, and the silent cracks that grow till they can't be mended after years of repressed grudges.
Merciless tragedy or simply everyday struggles. Few things in life can be chosen So cherish them while they are within your grasp. Daunting, disquieting short story about a middle-aged poetess who briefly entertains the idea of marrying her widowed neighbour.
A violent incident involving a man beating his drunk wife over the fence of the protagonist works as a metaphor for the stillborn affair between the widower and the poetess. A pool of grape juice in the kitchen of the woman the following day, and the monthly discomforts of her menstruation awakens the poetess from a kind of stupor and she understands that words and verses are all she needs to be whole.
She has made her choice. Later on, the local newspaper covers her death and she is described as an eccentric woman who lost her mind, making indirect allusions to her undesirable condition of being unmarried. The price she has to pay to remain independent is that of brief allusions to her poetry, and a more apologetic, detailed account of her personal life, which clearly didn't satisfy the general opinion.
Sad and unbelievable, but still so common today Oh my, what a trip. This short story had my mind reeling, my heart racing and my stomach churning with anticipation. Two couples, two women who become confidants, Georgia and Maya. They tell each other their secrets. Maya is a restless soul, she needs constant adventure which his steadfast husband Raymond won't provide.
Georgia has been comfortably married to her high school sweetheart Ben, until mysterious Miles appears in her life. Maya's influence or her need to feel alive, thrilled by a new passion? Georgia doesn't think twice and jumps into the thrilling unknown. Munro is a master, a genius in portraying the miseries of the quotidian, of prolonged marriage, the meaning of friendship and betrayal.
Her writing is never apologetic, and her characters are wounded people who yearn to infuse meaning to their lives. Her astute depiction of romantic affairs, always sidetracked by the biased lens of a patriarchal society, presents women who suffer the scorn of others, but mostly, their own. Georgia thinks she could have acted "differently" towards Maya, if she had known what would happen in the future, but truth is, she never had a chance of making a choice.
Her course of action was set even before she knew it, and she didn't have the courage to defy her hurt pride and blame man and woman, lover and best friend, in equal terms, as it often happens in real life. A story within a story. A Canadian young woman is held captive by an Albanian tribe while she is on a cruise in Croatia. The woman adopts the customs and manners of the tribe until the community deems fit to sell her to a Muslim as a bride. A Franciscan priest helps her escape.
A Canadian woman flees from her marriage right after she confesses to have an affair with her neighbor. She opens a bookstore and amalgametes a wide arrange of eccentric friends. The two stories converge into a double happy ending with unexpected surprises.
Sep 23, Shawn rated it it was amazing. She's just a genius. This book came out a decade ago, and doesn't have some of her more recent stuff -- like the wonderful Runaway -- but it's just amazing story after amazing story. The stories have some of the surfaces of quieter, plainer fiction about rural, domestic life, but they're packed with insight and dramatic moment, and Munro is more experimental than she's given credit for -- her leaps in time are jarring and amazing.
Especially in the stories that are connected by character and pla She's just a genius. Especially in the stories that are connected by character and place, a collage-like effect begins to take hold, and you feel that Munro is filling in the details of a much larger canvas than it initially appeared.
A lot of my favorite short story writers come from a place that is similar to my own -- whether it's my life and circumstances, my own preferences as a reader and writer, etc. What i find interesting about Munro is that her style, her subject, her characters and their homes -- none of it suggests an obvious connection to my own interests. But I feel completely connected to it all by her storytelling. Mar 29, Dave Comerford rated it it was amazing.
I bet Alice Munro is responsible for a lot of really bad writing. These stories involve ordinary people living in unremarkable towns and cities Toronto; small prairie towns doing pretty humdrum things - many of these stories recount visits to old friends or family. The language is so natural and the scenes so well drawn that the text requires no effort to read.
It is tempting to believe then that they took no effort or particular talent, or even much a subject matter, to write. What I am left I bet Alice Munro is responsible for a lot of really bad writing. What I am left with is a sense that I witnessed these stories, so that now it takes more effort to remember reading about that family than it does to see them sitting on the deck after dinner. And now that I have an entire album of Alice Munro photos in my mind, I wonder why these images, which would sound so banal if I tried to articulate them, are burnt into my retina.
The only explanation that I have is that Alice Munro put them there. She is a magician. Aug 03, Kaisa rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Alice Munro writes entirely in the medium of short stories. While I don't mind the trend of ever elongating fiction in modern literature, this collection of Munro's selected shorts is nothing short of a thrill of economy.
Munro's stories are brief, but the impressions her characters and the events to which they are sewed leave with the reader are long lasting. In White Dump, Munro gives us two characters, one a mother, the other her daughter, who move forward and back towards an event that does Alice Munro writes entirely in the medium of short stories. In White Dump, Munro gives us two characters, one a mother, the other her daughter, who move forward and back towards an event that does not seem inescapable, but is just as fixed by the ennui that everyday life creates.
This book's only weakness is that it takes stories from other collections, sometimes missing the mark on the arrangement of themes. Aside from this occasional fit and start however, the stories of this book are a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. Alice Munro is one of the best contemporary short story writers. I know this because everybody says so. Some of them say she is the best. I love short stories but although I have read Munro before, I have never quite clicked with any of hers.
These seemed to be the most difficult things she had ever done. She had immense difficulty reading the names of the subway stations, and getting off at the right one, so she could go to the apartment where she was staying. She would have found it hard to describe this difficulty. She knew perfectly well which was the right stop, she knew which stop it came after; she knew where she was.
But she could not make the connection between herself and things outside herself, so that getting up and leaving the car, going up the steps, going along the street all seemed to involve a bizarre effort. This sort of thing, in another context, would be called poetry. She is stunningly good at visual description too, photographically good. I would quote more if I had more space. It did happen at last. The first line of this story might be in one of those exercise books that trains you how to start a short story well: Maybe a car accident? Read on to find out. Munro sets the scene in the first 8-paragraph section, and the main characters are laid on the canvas: Rob, a middle-aged store keeper has married her late after a series of affairs with married women.
It is Peg who finds the couple dead and the focus of this story is her reaction to their deaths, and the effect of her reaction on Robert. The news of the violent incident is, to most people in the town, an enjoyable possession: And yet Peg, who finds the bodies and reports the deaths to the police, tells neither her friend Karen about it, nor her husband Robert. Karen, on the other hand, tells her mother in hospital and her friend Shirley.
And that was true, says, Munro. Is she in shock? He would have said he was watching to see if she was in any kind of trouble, if she seemed numb, or strange, or showed a quiver, if she dropped things or made the pots clatter. She was preparing an ordinary meal, listening to the boys in her usual mildly censorious but unruffled way. The only thing more apparent than usual to Robert was her gracefulness, lightness, quickness, and ease round the kitchen. Robert has heard most of it already from the local gossip-mongers.
He talks casually about what causes violent events and this is where the story title comes in: But it only happens once in a long while. Peg was looking at Clayton. She who always seemed pale and silky and assenting, but hard to follow as a watermark in fine paper, looked dried out, chalky, her outlines fixed in steady, helpless, unapologetic pain. It is, at heart, a relationship piece, I think, and it is beautifully handled. It is all about her. The dead next-door neighbours are incidental.
Her stories often open in a way that provides a focus of interest — a character, or an event — something that seems part of the commonground of stories. But in fact, the obvious focus is never what she is interested in. The events that inform the narrative are also not of especial interest to her, so much so that sometimes you feel a sense of flatness or disappointment that the happenings have become sidelined and unimportant compared to a single aspect the author is pursuing.
To me, these stories are like seeing a detail from a huge painting, with the main canvas simply there for background. Yes, she is a marvelous writer. I must get more of her for next summer. She benefits from slow reading, like a very good wine. Jun 30, Kristen rated it really liked it Shelves: The stories in this collection range in era from the s to the s, and they primarily focus on the lives of rural or isolated people in Canada. One thing that sets Munro apart for me is her decision to write several short stories about the same protagonist.
You saw the emotional points the character was at — age 20 and in college, divorced at 43, etc. It made it easier to stay engrossed in the collection, because you really felt like you were starting to get under the skin of a character. Beautifully broken, if you will. Jun 12, the gift rated it it was amazing Shelves: Apr 08, Jenni rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is totally random, but when we were in Victoria, BC, I walked into this giant, wonderful bookstore called Munro's Books. I bought a few things there, and the cashier gave me some free store bookmarks.
New Selected Stories by Alice Munro: review
Well, I pulled one out the other day to stick in this book, and then read in the author bio that Alice Munro is in fact the owner of Munro's Books! Thanks for the rec, Paula! Dec 09, Shelley rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Recommended to Shelley by: I learned that you have to slow down--really, really slow down--and let yourself be carried along in the cadence of each sentence. Her whole stories can be fragments placed together, artfully and artlessly. The effects are dazzling. I have to say I do not enjoy the later pieces as much the exception being "The Wilderness Station".
They are noticeably more ambitious and complex, but some parts just seem ill-fit together, contrive My first Munro. They are noticeably more ambitious and complex, but some parts just seem ill-fit together, contrived, and not nearly as naturalistic as the others. My favourites, in the order of appearance in this book, are: Masterful, as complete as a novel, feels effortless, tender even in its ironies. A complex story that defies summary and ages extremely well.
Beryl, the indomitable aunt of the narrator, might well be my favorite literary creation in this book. A traumatic event happens in childhood: Beryl's sister is forever scarred and propagates its aftermath to her children; Beryl lets it roll off her and transforms it into a game. Some may call it callousness, but I see a remarkable resilience and force of life. Munro really accomplishes the impossible here—making me, who is not anywhere near to being a parent, feel parenthood, a feat akin to making a blind person feel colour.
A quintessentially Canadian story that takes place in the Great Canadian Winter. Everywhere is snow, all 50 version of it, covering and uncovering, concealing and revealing, the fits and cracks underneath the veneer of life. Similar to "The Progress of Love" in its portrayal of intergenerational dynamics, but a shade darker Southern Ontario Gothic?
View all 3 comments. Jun 13, Gail rated it it was ok Shelves: I have read about halfway through this book and am going to have to set it aside. I can appreciate the literary quality of Alice Munro's writing, but I don't enjoy her stories. It's not that I have to enjoy everything I read, but I haven't cared about or identified with a single character very much. None of them are very memorable. These stories are dreary and devoid of any joy, humor, hope or beauty. Every romance and marriage fails. There's a lot of cynicism here. I can see why Munro's stories I have read about halfway through this book and am going to have to set it aside.
I can see why Munro's stories are critically acclaimed, but they're not for me. It seems like if you've read one, you've read them all. Give me a Wendell Berry story over one of these any day. Feb 17, Sylvie rated it did not like it Shelves: Unfortunately, this wonderful writer is not for me.
Her stories are so dismal. I've tried to read Ms. Munro's work many times and I always end up abandoning it. OK, let me be perfectly blunt: For me, this woman's writing can ruin a perfectly good day. Her writing is magnificent; her subject matter plunges me down a dingy well. OMG, I am so happy I'm finally done with book. Apparently I am not a fan of short stories. I don't like how by the time you have gotten to know a character the story is over.
And when these short stories end, they just end. There's never much of an ending. I just don't get the appeal. View all 11 comments. It goes without saying that Munro is an amazing writer. From this collection, three tales stood out: If I were to rate her stories individually, these three would get the highest possible rating and the second one would surpass it.
Her short stories tend to focus on the lives of everyday men and women and expose life for what it is, in the context of its everydayness turned farce; it is the breaking point, the shock, the sen It goes without saying that Munro is an amazing writer. Her short stories tend to focus on the lives of everyday men and women and expose life for what it is, in the context of its everydayness turned farce; it is the breaking point, the shock, the sensuous or sexual adventure, the delayed and never-to-be- fulfilled possibilities and the dying memories that she portrays.
And she does so with frank, heartfelt prose. For she hadn't thought that crocheted roses could float away or that tombstones could hurry down the street. She doesn't mistake that for reality, and neither does she mistake anything else for reality, and that is how she knows she is sane. If you want to know more, read it. I would recommend "Labor Day Dinner" to everyone and anyone, as it faces the two most important things in life and literature: Aug 08, Keegan Gore rated it it was amazing. Seriously one on the best short story collections I've ever read. Each story is alive and brimming with emotion.
Some made me want to cry, some shocked me, some had me putting the book down in disbelief, grabbing my forehead, pacing around my apartment in order to mull over what I had just read. I cannot say enough good things about Munro. In the introduction she refers to her stories as "houses"that one walks into, rather than linear paths one must take, and I am inclined to see her stories tha Seriously one on the best short story collections I've ever read.
Selected Stories by Alice Munro
In the introduction she refers to her stories as "houses"that one walks into, rather than linear paths one must take, and I am inclined to see her stories that way, as portals. Mainly, Munro writes about young women in Canada. Some of these stories are set in the country, some revolve around urban life, and some straddle the line between the two.
Some of her rural stories are indeed gothic, particularly the ones set in the nineteenth century. Mostly, the stories in this collection are about relationships, romantic and platonic, the tension between urban and rural life, and in general love, how to find meaning in one's life. Quite a few are about loneliness.
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