WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE© IN LITERATURE 2013
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction
A Best Book of the Year: The Atlantic, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, Vogue, AV Club
In story after story in this brilliant new collection, Alice Munro pinpoints the moment a person is forever altered by a chance encounter, an action not taken, or a simple twist of fate. Her characters are flawed and fully human: a soldier returning from war and avoiding his fiancée, a wealthy woman deciding whether to confront a blackmailer, an adulterous mother and her neglected children, a guilt-ridden father, a young teacher jilted by her employer. Illumined by Munro’s unflinching insight, these lives draw us in with their quiet depth and surprise us with unexpected turns. And while most are set in her signature territory around Lake Huron, some strike even closer to home: an astonishing suite of four autobiographical tales offers an unprecedented glimpse into Munro’s own childhood. Exalted by her clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, Dear Life shows how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be.
Joan Didion once said I didn t want to see life reduced to a short story... I wanted to see life expanded to a novel. Didion had her own purposes, but Munro readers know that the dichotomy between expansive novel and compressed short story doesn t hold in her work. Munro (Too Much Happiness) can depict key moments without obscuring the reality of a life filled with countless other moments told or untold. In her 13th collection, she continues charting the shifts in norms that occur as WWII ends, the horses kept for emergencies go out of use, small towns are less isolated, and then gradually or suddenly, nothing is quite the same. There are no clunkers here, and especially strong stories include Train, To Reach Japan, Haven, and Corrie. And for the first time, Munro writes about her childhood, in the collection s final four pieces, which she describes as not quite stories.... I believe they are the first and last and the closest things I have to say about my own life. These feature the precision of her fiction with the added interest of revealing the development of Munro s eye and her distance from her surroundings, both key, one suspects, in making her the writer she is. While many of these pieces appeared in the New Yorker, they read differently here; not only has Munro made changes, but more importantly, read together, the stories accrete, deepen, and speak to each other.