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Open Secrets: Stories Paperback – November 7, 1995

36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Loosely connected short stories mine both the history of a small Canadian town and the complex personal histories of Munro's protagonists.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

For her newest gathering, Canadian novelist/short story writer Munro (Friends of My Youth, LJ 3/15/90) has collected another eight stories of women's lives. Most of the stories are set in and around the town of Carstairs, Alberta, where the Doud family is the biggest employer. Munro is a master at developing the details that bring her characters to life: In "Carried Away," librarian Louisa responds to the increasingly intimate correspondence of a World War II soldier, who fails to contact her when he returns home. In "A Wilderness Station," set in the 1850s when Carstairs is an outpost, orphaned Annie McKillop sets out for an uncertain future as the mail-order bride of a homesteader. These luminous, full-bodied stories will be widely enjoyed.
Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (November 7, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679755624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679755623
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
It astounds me that some people find Munro's prose boring; hypnotic is the word I'd use. These stories aren't talk shows or soap operas or "Oprah stories" with heartwarming messages at the end. What they're about, in my view, is the strange and slippery role that time and memory play in our lives, and in that sense they join the tradition of Proust and Wordsworth. Munro is fascinated by experiences of disorientation or dislocation in which one no longer knows quite who one is, and by our stubborn attempts to make those moments fit into the narratives of our lives. But she also knows that those are the experiences that allow us to change, to get somewhere: the moments when we risk all because we have nothing to lose. Her small towns are about as folksy and harmless as Twin Peaks, because gaps keep opening in the dull fabric of their inhabitants' existence. Read beneath the surface, don't be fooled by the prosy, matter-of-fact tone, and you'll find that these are some weird and compelling stories indeed.
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45 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Jay Stevens on July 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you want to know exactly what's going on, if you want to get all the nuances the first time around, if you want to be fed a simple little story, go see a movie. Don't read this book.
If, however, you enjoy reading, if you like puzzling over plots and taking notes, if you like realistic characters with realistic problems, if you like words and sentences, if you like "Open Secrets."
Munro is "great literature." I suspect that in a few hundred years, Hemingway stories will have withered away under scrutiny and our past century will belong to names like Tobias Wolff, Grace Paley, and Alice Munro. She really is that good. And I think it points to something problematic about the quality of primary education Americans receive that a college student would find Munro's stories too complicated for an undergraduate literature class.
And while I'm ranting...
What is it with disparaging a book - comparing it to a talk-show - because it's written by a woman, with women characters doing womanly things? If a book is about women, does that disqualify it from being great lit? Does there have to be a war complete with trenches before it wins accolades? I also shy away from the term, "women's literature." Why categorize it so? Some people create a new category of literature to put their women into, so that they don't have to defend them from the pinheads who mindlessly laud the "classics" tooth and nail. Forget it! Viriginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, and Alice Monro are great authors and compete against any male writer...
"Open Secrets" is an amazing book. Right off the top, she hits us with "Carried Away," where a small-town librarian falls in love with an unseen correspondent, only to have him die in a factory accident before she ever meets him.
Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Minor on July 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
The best story in this collection is "Carried Away," and it, like many of the others, jumps around in time, and from character to character, revealing slowly what exactly it might be about, and then about-facing and revealing that it is about something else entirely, and then about-facing again, then again, until, finally, on the last page, one realizes that the story itself has been modeled after the very complexity of any group of lives as they move among one another, never quite knowing one another's whole story, or their own.

I've never read another writer quite like Alice Munro, and I don't expect I will anytime soon. This book is so its own that it resists the capsule review entirely, and must be experienced on its own terms, story by story.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Crowe TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
As I write (Nov 2012), Alice Munro (born 1931) has just published another collection -- "Dear Life." For my tastes, no one has produced more interesting short stories in English since Joyce and Hawthorne. You sometimes hear Munro compared to Chekov, but her stories are stranger, and her organization of them into books is more ambitious (not that Chekov had such publication available to him). "Open Secrets" (1994) is more than a collection of stories -- it straddles the divide between collection and novel. Some characters from some stories show up, in minor parts, in others, and some stories seem to share the same setting -- eastern Canada -- though not always at the same time. Described broadly, the subject matter of the stories is conventional enough -- erotic and family entanglements -- but the working out of that subject matter is highly individual. For one thing, in this book, the stories are longer than the typical short story, and the first, "Carried Away," starts in 1913, and ends in the 1970's, and in its odd way, it gets in World War 1, a flu epidemic, and industrial accident, and romantic fantasies. It doesn't come to any standard-romance conclusion, and it's absolutely fascinating. Also long, and with a broad historical sweep AND a double plot is "The Albanian Virgin" -- an ambitious construction that turns certain romance tropes on their heads and unapologetically plays fast and loose (or does it?) with point of view. Another amazing multi-generational construction is "A Wilderness Station," which is part murder mystery, part history, and part anthropology -- as well as being an epistolary tale.Read more ›
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