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Dear Life: Stories [Kindle Edition]

Alice Munro
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (596 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $8.74
You Save: $7.21 (45%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description


New York Times Notable Book
Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction
A Best Book of the Year: The Atlantic, NPR, San Francisco ChronicleVogue, 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.

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2012: You half expect a new collection of stories by the beloved Alice Munro to arrive already devoured: pages dog-eared (“I feel exactly the same way! How did she know?”), spine cracked, cover bent from the dozens of times each story deserves to be read. The best thing to say about Alice Munro is said so often, it doesn’t mean much anymore. But here it is for the record: She is a master of her craft. In Dear Life, her 13th collection, Munro again breathes life--real, blemished, nuanced life--into her characters and settings (usually her hometown in Huron County, Ontario). Her empathy is the greatest weapon in her arsenal, and it is on full display here. But the most satisfying part of the new collection is the last four stories, bundled together in what the author calls “Finale,” the closest she’ll ever come to writing about her own dear life. --Alexandra Foster

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Munro’s latest collection brings to mind the expression, “What is old is new again.” As curiously trite and hardly complimentary as that statement may sound, it is offered as unreserved praise for the continued wonderment provided by arguably the best short-story writer in English today. Some of these 14 stories present new directions in Munro’s exploration of her well-recognized universe (rural and small-town Ontario), while other stories track more familiar paths, with characters and familial situations reminiscent of previous stories. That said, the truth is that on whatever level of reader familiarity Munro is working, in every story she finds new ways to make the lives of ordinary people compelling. “Amundsen” has a setting that will pique the interest of avid Munro followers, yet it is delivered with a tone surprising and even disturbing. A young woman ventures to a remote area to assume teaching duties in a TB sanitarium, soon entering into a dismal relationship with the head doctor. But with Munro’s care in craftsmanship and her trademark limpid, resonant style, the reader accepts that the depressing aftereffect is Munro’s intention. “Haven” will come to be considered one of her masterpieces: a quick-to-maturation piece, a fond specialty of Munro’s, this one is about a teenage girl going to live with her aunt and uncle while her parents do missionary work. In quite dramatic fashion, she observes that what might appear as somone’s acceptance of another person’s quirks may actually be indifference. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A first printing of 100,000 copies supports Munro’s international popularity. --Brad Hooper

Product Details

  • File Size: 1372 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307743721
  • Publisher: Vintage (November 13, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0084TWN9K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,719 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
103 of 112 people found the following review helpful
What can be said about Alice Munro's luminous writing that hasn't already been said? What unused plump adjectives might be bandied about to describe her way with words? What turn of phrase or simile might once again skirt the edge of capturing her unparalleled ability to so aptly describe those quiet moments in life that can change everything in a flash? Crossroads, they are called. A lightning bug trapped inside a jar, now free. Her latest collection, DEAR LIFE, is all of those flashy adjectives and overextended metaphors. It's everything you want it to be, and more.

Munro has written 12 other short story collections as well as a few volumes of selected previously published stories and one novel. You'd think with this many published stories in her back pocket that maybe she'd retrace her steps, write the same story but with different characters, rely on a well-tread formula or two for some of the "filler" in the book. But such is not the case. While many reoccurring themes are explored, DEAR LIFE is as fresh and illuminating as any of her previous collections, if not more so. As another reviewer so fittingly put it, "there are no clunkers here."

"To Reach Japan," the first entry in the collection, finds Greta and her young daughter Katy on a train to Toronto to housesit a friend's home for a month while Greta's husband --- and Katy's father --- begins a new job elsewhere. While on the journey, the normally quiet and contained Greta gets too deep in the drink with a younger fellow they meet on the train and, in a moment of lusty abandon, loses track of Katy. Of course, mother and daughter are reunited, but not without Greta feeling the full weight of what might have happened.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Fans of Alice Munro will be very happy with her new collection of short stories. Those that are new to her writing would be better served by starting out with one of her earlier books as these stories are not all that typical of her writing and there is an autobiographical section in the back of the book.

Ms. Munro has published twelve collections of short stories and one novel. She is a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Booker Award and the Lannan Literary Award. Her books have been translated into thirteen languages.

In the autobiographical section, there are tender remembrances of her past and her time with her familiy. 'Dear Life', the title story, is about her growing up. Her father started a business raising foxes and minks for their pelts. Eventually the business failed and her father went to work in a forgery. Her mother developed Parkinson's Disease when she was in her forties. The family did not realize that it was progressive and incurable. In 'The Eye', she writes about Sadie who helps out in their house. Alice and she develop a close bond. Sadie gets run over by a car on the way back from a dance when she is not yet twenty years old. This story explores the quality of their relationship.

One of the more powerful stories in the collection is 'Amundsen'. A teacher in a rural sanitarium for children with tuberculosis becomes engaged to a doctor who works there. Things don't progress as she hoped they would. 'Leaving Maverly' was my favorite story. Each night, a police officer drives a young woman of a very fundamentalist religious denomination home. One night she skips town. His own wife is very ill with serious heart disease and he ends up taking her to Toronto for care.
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple Tales of Everyday Life November 16, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A series of simple tales of everyday life with no great drama foretold, but which still draw you into their captivating storyline.

Although each story seems to be plausible, the endings are left open for each person to ascribe as they see fit. In other words there is a great deal of ambiguity to how each of the characters' lives eventually end up.

The author uses the train as a mode of transportation to set the background scene for most of the stories as a unifying theme plus a certain amount of despair and hopelessness in almost every case. Each story has some amount of psychological, spiritual, and sexual nature to it without the use of a lot of 4-lettered words to describe the action.

Each short story is poignantly told with a certain amount of hopelessness in the manner of predestination reminiscent of some European writers as Jean Paul Sartre. Yet in Ms Munro's stories the reader can supply the ending they choose, as nothing is written in stone except for the helplessness of the main characters to change a predestined plan of some existential force.

With the aforementioned precautions noted, I would recommend this fine work of short stories with easily understandable language. Just remember this is not a feel good series of stories although entertaining and evocative of many aspects of human nature.
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52 of 66 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic Munro but . . . December 25, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Uneven. Some stories are spellbinding, others just miss. I used to teach her short stories in a sophomore English at a CC and loved them. So when I read, I'm thinking: how would I teach this one or that one? So far, I'd be inclined perhaps to teach "Dolly," maybe or "In Sight of the Lake." As a whole, I like the stories but not as much as I expected to. I've always enjoyed Munro's quirky characters and we do get those. And the mundane writ large, and we get that. Still, some just fell flat for me--had I overblown my expectations? Or am I on the money for most readers?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed.
Although well-written I never felt engaged with any of the characters and didn't even finish the book.
Published 7 hours ago by Robin Santiago
4.0 out of 5 stars Dear Life,
Alice Munro deserves her 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature for her insightful short stories. However, the "ah ha" moment begins to sound too similar after a while; also the stories... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Tahoe Judy
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories" was like poetry. So beautifully written and melancholy
"Dear Life: Stories" was like poetry . So beautifully written and melancholy.
Published 4 days ago by Gabrielle
4.0 out of 5 stars Short stories
She certainly writes very well and makes mundane things interesting. However, some of these stories were uninteresting and had no proper ending or even focus.
Published 4 days ago by nigel barnard
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Top of her game, nobody more human or insightful
Published 4 days ago by Mark E Semler
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Good writing but disappointed in the world view. No faith evident.
Published 5 days ago by Sojourner Truth
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Dark and compelling stories.
Published 10 days ago by S. Browne
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed every line
I liked the simplicity and deepness of Munro's writing; her female characters and their choices, often very difficult ones. Women in the stories dare, dream and take chances.
Published 12 days ago by Lara Blanco
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
some were good and some i just did not like at all..
Published 14 days ago by E. Penn
5.0 out of 5 stars An old friend...
This is the 7th volume of short stories of Alice Munro that I've read (and reviewed). It is like coming home to an old friend; one who knows all too well the stories of the lives... Read more
Published 15 days ago by John P. Jones III
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More About the Author

Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has published eleven previous books.During her distinguished career she has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including the W.H. Smith Prize, the National Book Circle Critics Award, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, the Lannan Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and the Rea Award for the Short Story. In Canada, she has won the Governor General's Award, the Giller Prize, the Trillium Book Award, and the Libris Award.Alice Munro and her husband divide their time between Clinton, Ontario, and Comox, British Columbia.

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