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Runaway Paperback – November 8, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (November 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400077915
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077915
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Alice Munro has been accused of telling the same story over and over, and to a certain extent the characterization is true. Her subject matter is inevitably the vagaries of love between middle-aged people in some rural Canadian setting, trapped there by the combination of their desires and weaknesses. Or, if not love, then at least the mysteries of relationships as characters struggle to understand each other and themselves. But this thematic single-mindedness can hardly be considered a criticism considering Munro tells stories better than anybody else and with a level of precision matched by few. It would be like criticizing Shakespeare for writing about politics.

Runaway is no exception. The stories take place throughout Canada--northern Ontario, the Prairies, the West Coast, Stratford--and feature women and men drifting in and out of each other's orbits, pulled by forces they don't understand. In "Runaway," a woman considers leaving her husband with the help of a neighbor, but the husband has other plans. In "Chance," a woman leaves her life behind in a quest for a man she met on a train crossing the country. Their intertwined lives play out through two more stories, "Soon" and "Silence," but the path they follow is as unpredictable to the reader as it is to them. In "Trespasses," a small town's women dream of escaping their lives only to find themselves in lives they never imagined.

What really marks the stories is Munro's sense of mood. There's a sense of hidden menace or even violence everywhere in Runaway. It occasionally erupts, but always in surprising and unexpected ways, and with unintended consequences. Munro may be an old-fashioned storyteller, but she understands chaos theory well enough. The same story? Sure. But it's a damn good one. --Peter Darbyshire, Amazon.ca --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Nothing is new in Munro's latest collection, which is to say that the author continues to perfect her virtuosic formula in these eight short stories, several of which previously appeared in the New Yorker. While her style typifies the traditionally realistic, often domestic genre of that magazine, Munro's stories are also global, bighearted and warm. In the title story, a housekeeper tries to leave her emotionally abusive husband, entangling her employer in the process. Three interconnected stories—"Chance," "Soon" and "Silence"—follow a schoolteacher as she falls for an older man, returns as a young mother to visit her ailing parents on their farm and much later tries to "rescue" her daughter from a religious cult. In "Tricks," a lonely nurse on a day trip encounters a man from Montenegro and vows to return to his clock shop one year later to resume their affair. In deliberate prose, Munro captures their fleeting moment of passion on a train platform: "This talk felt more and more like an agreed-upon subterfuge, like a conventional screen for what was becoming more inevitable all the time, more necessary, between them." Munro's characters are hopeful and proud as they face both the betrayals and gestures of kindness that animate their relationships. One never knows quite where a Munro story will end, only that it will leave an incandescent trail of psychological insight.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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

Runaway is a collection of short stories written by Alice Munroe.
AgnesMack
I am happy to report I was quite mistaken, as author Alice Munro is a gifted writer whose multi-layered writing style can be enjoyed by anyone.
Ed Uyeshima
It is just a build-up to what takes you by surprise or sometimes shock at the end of the story or in the middle.
Vivek Tejuja

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on January 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Somebody around here nominated Munro for a Nobel prize and for the title of strongest writer in the English language. Tempted by so much praise from a trustworthy source, I tested/tasted the Runaway and I second the motion.
The title story itself is one of the best long short stories that I can remember. (But I would still like to know what happened to Flora...)
The story called 'Silence' is a very troubling horror story out of real life.
Munro writes about daily life and 'human' relations and neighborhood problems and life stories, including several versions of plausible horror, with a simplicity and precision that can only be achieved through hard work (or through lucky genius). She is entirely free of mannerisms and of cheap tricks (unlike some contemporary American writers that I am just having a big disagreement about.)
Outstanding.
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88 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Great Faulkner's Ghost TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you have not read Alice Munro, how I envy you. You have so much pleasure ahead of you. She writes for us about wonder- the wonder of everyday life; the small things; the touching things; the things that make you say, yes, this is the human heart; all of these are her fictional world, much as they are our pasts, and our presents. This is a strong collection and an excellent place to get to know what she is about. After this, explore her backlist. My personal favorite besides this is an early collection called,The Moons of Jupiter, which is still in print in a nice paperbak format. I hope you enjoy discovering her as much as I have.
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73 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Great Faulkner's Ghost TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you have not read Alice Munro, how I envy you. You have so much pleasure ahead of you. She writes for all of us about wonder- the wonder of everyday life; the small things; the touching things; the things that make you say, yes, this is the human heart; all of these are her fictional world, much as they are our pasts, and our presents. This is a strong collection and an excellent place to get to know what she is about. After this, explore her backlist. My personal favorite besides this is an early collection called,The Moons of Jupiter, which is still in print in a nice paperbak format. I hope you enjoy discovering her as much as I have.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on August 6, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Munro is an absolutely gorgeous writer. I was discussing this book with some friends over dinner and we all realized that the more we talked, the more sadness we saw in the stories. The prose is so luminous and the characters are so real, it is easy to forget the quiet and unquiet desperation that their lives are describing.

Runaway seems to be a meditation on several themes. The obvious one is the idea of flight. Her characters flee in a multitude of ways-- successfully, unsuccessfully, with large rebellion and small. Small town life with all its constraints and beauty is explored through the context of young women trying to come to terms with its limitations.

This book would be suitable for anyone who is a lover of strong character-driven fiction (short or otherwise). If you read and appreciate writers like Marilynne Robinson, then this will likely be a book for you. It will be high on my list of books to be given as a gift this year.
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59 of 66 people found the following review helpful By J. Marren VINE VOICE on November 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alice Munro's newest collection of short stories is about time, how small events change lives, and how different those events look as time passes. Several of the stories span the lifetimes of the characters, focusing on one event that changes things forever.

Take "Chance," "Soon" and "Silence," a trio of stories about Juliet, a young woman whose choices about who to speak to on a train change her life forever. Munro masterfully picks three incidents, the train ride, a visit home, and a search for a daughter, and through them tells the story of Juliet's life. I found it sad to see how the great passion of the first story ends in an accident by the third. Or "Tricks," perhaps the most painful story in the collection. The story opens with Robin saying the most banal thing one could imagine, "I'll die if that dress isn't ready." Then we learn why, and when Munro repeats the line again we see it's fraught with meaning. We learn of a chance meeting that offers a promise that's snatched away a year later; only at the end of her life does Robin learn what really happened.

Suicides, lost souls and disappointments thread through these stories. Munro's world is a lost and lonely place, and be forewarned--none of these stories promises a happy ending. But they're beautifully written and struck a chord--don't we all recall brief, seemingly trivial moments years later and wonder what if?
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Daniel A. Johnson on December 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alice Munro may well be the best short story writer working today, but what's strange is that at first it's a little hard to see why she's so good. She doesn't use any fancy-pants language, she doesn't worry about making her characters warm and sympathetic, and she doesn't try to reach at the typical sorts of short story epiphanies, the straining towards lyrical proclaiming and the conclusive moment of a personal vision's consolidation.

What she offers instead is a conversational tone that is quirky and fractured enough to rise above the blandness of a typical conversational style. For example, this is how she renders a crucial scene in one story where the protagonist has entered the house of a man she has a crush on. Note the parenthesis, the incongruous academic metaphor, and the sentence fragments: "Juliet hears the door of the truck close, she hears him speaking to the dog, and dread comes over her. She wants to hide somewhere (she says later, I could have crawled under the table, but of course she does not think of doing anything so ridiculous). It's like the moment at school before the winner of the prize is announced. Only worse, because she has no reasonable hope. And because there will never be another chance so momentous in her life."

Furthermore, her stories don't so much ask us to root for the characters so much as to examine them, to consider their mistakes and misperceptions. For example, Munro's stories often break out into reflective moments like this one: "While she was running away from him - now - Clarke still kept his place in her life. But when she was finished running away, when she just went on, what would she put in his place? What else - who else - could ever be so vivid a challenge?
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