Dear Life – Alice Munro

 
dear life cover
dear life cover
dear life cover

 
Overview
 

Genre: ,
 
Author:
 
Publisher:
 
Format: , ,
 
Publication Date:
 
Number of Pages: 336
 
ISBN: 978-0307596888
 
Synopsis: "Dear Life" is a collection of interesting stories describing genuine facts of life. Munro appeals to the reader using a rhetorical voice, and she make her stories so private and intimate, that it's impossible not to adore them.
 
Availability: Available in major bookstores, Amazon / Kindle / Hardcover / Paperback
 
Originality
9.0


 
Storytelling
8.0


 
Characters
6.0


 
Total Score
7.7


User Rating
1 total rating

 

Positives


"Dear Life" is a collection of stories adapted by Nobel Prize winner for literature, Alice Munro, to fit the tastes of avid readers fascinated by original, meaningful events. Featuring character revelations and plot twists, each story presented teaches the reader a lesson.

Negatives


"Dear Life" is a collection of short stories inspired from real life, so if you're not fond of the style, this book is not for you.


Bottom Line

In “Dear Life”, Alice Munro adopts a more streamlined type of storytelling. She focuses on facts, important happenings, and ordinary events in people’s lives. She doesn’t present clear endings though, and she lets the reader decide what should have happened.

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Posted June 13, 2014 by

 
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Dear Life by Alice Munro

Earlier novels by Alice Munro were richly textured works, with complex narratives and layered portraits. Her more recent works, including Runaway (2004) and Too Much Happiness (2009) have moved away from that type of richly developed writing, and towards a more streamlined type of storytelling. Perhaps the shift is due to the fact that her long story works, and particularly Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001) was such a masterful example of the style that it would be hard to duplicate that success.

Whatever her reasons, in her new book, Dear Life, Munro continues her trend towards the bare-bones type of writing. Some of the major characters have important backstories which are purposely sketchy, or revealed at odd points in the story. Even the titles of the stories, like “Pride,” “Haven,” or “Amundsen” are just fragments, which only express pieces of a thought, like the sequential signs you see along a roadway.

Some of the plot lines in this book include sudden reversals or departures. Omens and premonitions are featured, as well as people who have been twisted by unusual religious beliefs or ideals. For instance, the story “Corrie” follows the love relationship between a married architect and a rich eccentric. As their affair builds, it reaches a shattering revelation, then resumes on a path toward greater intimacy. In the story “Train,” a soldier is on a train headed for a reunion with his fiancée which he has been long anticipating. Before he arrives, he jumps off the back of the train. There is no reason given, leaving the reader to wonder.

With so much of the backstory and reasoning omitted, the result is that these stories have a certain dreamlike feel, as though they capture just pieces of consciousness and memories. In Munro’s earlier works, these would have been fleshed out into large, detailed stories. The result of her new technique is that readers meet startling characters, who are infused with an almost surreal quality.

Munro stories often did revolve around some seemingly inconsequential event or detail, which made all the difference to the protagonist. In her new, shorter works, those insignificant details have become the most prominent element. She also brings more of a Gothic style to her writing now, with violence, illness, and the lurid overtones that mark that genre. In her repressed communities, these are used to mete out justice, bringing down those who tried to strive for more.

In the story “Gravel,” we find a married woman who casts aside her conventional relationship and morals, by starting an affair with a traveling performer from the summer theatre festival in town. The tale opens with them living next to a gravel pit, then fills in the details of what happened. The narrator is one of the woman’s daughters, and she recounts the scandal in the town which her mother’s affair created. The author uses comedy to discuss societal norms and morals, and poke fun at small town snobbery. The conclusion is harrowing, yet feels as though it was inevitable. Order is restored, and life moves on.

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Loana P

 
Loana P


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