Tag: Author: Alice Munro


Review: Family Furnishings

Posted 14 April, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995 – 2014
By: Alice Munro
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Here is a selection of Munro’s most accomplished and powerfully affecting short fiction from the last two decades, a companion volume to A Wilderness Station: Selected Stories, 1968–1994. These stories encompass the fullness of human experience, from the wild exhilaration of first love (in “Passion”) to the punishing consequences of leaving home (“Runaway”) or ending a marriage (“The Children Stay”). And in stories that Munro has described as “closer to the truth than usual”—”Dear Life,” “Working for a Living,” and “Home”—we glimpse the author’s own life.

Subtly honed with her hallmark precision, grace, and compassion, these stories illuminate the quotidian yet astonishing particularities in the lives of men and women, parents and children, friends and lovers as they discover sex, fall in love, part, quarrel, suffer defeat, set off into the unknown, or find a way to be in the world.

I’ve been excited about this book ever since its publication was announced last year. Like the book blurb mentions, it’s the perfect companion to her first selected stories compilation (review) and while I have read a few of her short story collections in the last few years, I know there are plenty other books and stories of hers that I have yet t read.

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Review: The Love of a Good Woman

Posted 13 April, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Love of a Good Woman
By: Alice Munro
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

All of these eight wonderful stories are about what people will do for love, and the unexpected routes their passion will force them to take.

An old landlady in Vancouver who alarms the just-married narrator with her prim advice about married life – and “the peculiar threat” of a china cabinet that must be washed once a month – is shown to have conspired when young in a crime of passion. A young mother, at the mercy of the “radiant explosion” that comes when she thinks of her secret life, abandons her baby and four-year old to be with her lover in the story “The Children Stay.” A gruff old country doctor in the 1960s is discovered by his daughter to be helping desperate women, his “special patients.” An impetuous young woman meets a visiting Indian student and conceives on a train from Vancouver to Toronto because of “the fact that you couldn’t get condoms around the Calgary station, not for love or money.” An Ontario farm wife’s affair drives her husband to commit a murder; its discovery, years later, will act as a negotiating point for a new, presumably satisfactory, marriage.

The book is clear-eyed about the imperfections of marriage, the clutter of our emotional lives, and the impermanence of love: “Not that that was the end. For we did make up. But we didn’t forgive each other.” Even the shared memories of earlier times prove to be a minefield, and many of the stories track the changes that time brings over generations to families, lovers, and even to friends who share old, intimate secrets about “the prostration of love.”

As always these stories by Alice Munro are shot through with humour, and are as rich as novels. As always the characters in the stories are easily, sometimes uncomfortably, recognizable as people like us. One quote summarizes the delightful surprises that await the reader: “Did you ever think that people’s lives could be like that and end up like this? Well, they can.”

My last Alice Munro book wasn’t a terribly enjoyable read (review) but that hasn’t stopped me from checking out her other story collections as her insights are really quite astounding; quiet but powerful. This collection apparently was a Giller Prize winner and I picked it up late last year as the premises for some of the stories it contained were quite interesting.

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Review: The View from Castle Rock

Posted 29 December, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The View from Castle Rock
By: Alice Munro
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

A powerful new collection from one of our most beloved, admired, and honoured writers.

In stories that are more personal than any that she’s written before, Alice Munro pieces her family’s history into gloriously imagined fiction. A young boy is taken to Edinburgh’s Castle Rock, where his father assures him that on a clear day he can see America, and he catches a glimpse of his father’s dream. In stories that follow, as the dream becomes a reality, two sisters-in-law experience very different kinds of passion on the long voyage to the New World; a baby is lost and magically reappears on a journey from an Illinois homestead to the Canadian border.

Other stories take place in more familiar Munro territory, the towns and countryside around Lake Huron, where the past shows through the present like the traces of a glacier on the landscape and strong emotions stir just beneath the surface of ordinary comings and goings. First love flowers under the apple tree, while a stronger emotion presents itself in the barn. A girl hired as summer help, and uneasy about her ‘place’ in the fancy resort world she’s come to, is transformed by her employer’s perceptive parting gift. A father whose early expectations of success at fox farming have been dashed finds strange comfort in a routine night job at an iron foundry. A clever girl escapes to college and marriage.

Evocative, gripping, sexy, unexpected these stories reflect a depth and richness of experience. The View from Castle Rock is a brilliant achievement from one of the finest writers of our time.

Another day, another Alice Munro book 🙂 This book sounds a bit different from her other titles as it weaves in some of her own family history as the foundation to which these stories stem from. So yeah, I picked it up on a whim earlier this year and decided to read it a few months ago 🙂

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So You Want to Read… (Alice Munro)

Posted 1 July, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 2 Comments

So You Want to Read… is a new monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂

Firstly:

So for this month’s So You Want to Read…, I thought it would be appropriate to feature Canadian author Alice Munro. She’s well-known for writing short stories, and received even more acclaim a few years ago when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I admit, I didn’t get around to reading her books until last year, but since then I’ve been trying to read more. She has such a way of crafting stories out of everyday life and activities, they’re quite introspective and filled with character and thoughts.

So, never read any of Alice Munro’s stories and want to try them out? Or maybe you want to expand your literary horizons to include short stories? Look no further, here’s my 3 recommendations on where to start:

  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (review) — I cannot recommend this book enough, it is a solid collection from start to finish (there was not a single story in this collection I didn’t like) exploring themes of friendship, bonds of family, love between couples, etc. Two movies also sprang from two stories in this collection, which is pretty cool (Hateship Courtship and Away from Her).
  • Runaway (review) — I read this collection earlier this year and again, a solid book from start to finish and OMG all them feels. This book features stories of women facing dilemmas and inner crises of all sorts, searching for happiness, for relief, longing for self-actualisation, etc. Another book I would whole-heartedly recommend.
  • Selected Stories (1968 – 1994) (review) — Okay, I would recommend checking out the above two titles first before checking out this book. While this book features Alice Munro’s earlier works, I find it to be rather different compared to her later works, sometimes not as compelling, but they paint a very interesting picture of life in rural Canada in the early half of the 20th century. Still worth checking out, but read the above two first.
  • Bonus: Family Furnishings (1995 – 2014) — I haven’t picked up a copy of this collection yet (am waiting for the paperback to be released later this year) but it looks like an excellent collection of her later stories (you can see the list of stories included in this collection over here).

I hope this list of books helps if you’re interested in reading any of her works! Have you read any of Alice Munro’s stories? If so, which collections or stories would you recommend to new readers?

Review: Selected Stories

Posted 1 May, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Selected Stories
By: Alice Munro
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Spanning almost thirty years and settings that range from big cities to small towns and farmsteads of rural Canada, this magnificent collection brings together twenty-eight stories by a writer of unparalleled wit, generosity, and emotional power. In her Selected Stories, Alice Munro makes lives that seem small unfold until they are revealed to be as spacious as prairies and locates the moments of love and betrayal, desire and forgiveness, that change those lives forever. To read these stories–about a traveling salesman and his children on an impromptu journey; an abandoned woman choosing between seduction and solitude–is to succumb to the spell of a writer who enchants her readers utterly even as she restores them to their truest selves.

This was actually the first collection of stories by Alice Munro that I bought, but I ended up reading all the other books by her that I bought afterwards before finally getting around to this book. I had picked this book up shortly after it was announced that she won the Nobel Prize in Literature; I thought it would be a good place to start as I had never read any of her stories. Well, now that I’ve exhausted all of the collections on my TBR pile, I finally turned to read this one 😉

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