Your Garage botysf16 Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it $5 Albums Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Patriotic Picks Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer roadies roadies roadies  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis UniOrlando Segway miniPro STEM
Customer Review

122 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOO MUCH HAPPINESS BY ALICE MUNRO, November 17, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Too Much Happiness (Hardcover)
It is an honor to review 'Too Much Happiness' by Alice Munro, who I consider the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language. Ms. Munro is Canadian and lives in Clinton, Ontario. During her writing career she has garnered many awards including the Lannan Literary Award, the United States National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Man Booker International Prize. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, the Atlantic Monthly, as well as many other literary publications. I consider her an icon.

With each book of hers that I have read (and I have read them all!) I think that she has reached her zenith. Yet, with each new publication, I find her newest work better than her previous publications. Her work is glorious. At the rate she's going now, her zenith may be light years away.

I find the metaphor of looking into a tide pool an apt one for describing the stories of Ms. Munro. A tide pool is a microcosm of the ocean, yet it has a certain stasis and life of its own. It is a living organism, relating to the macrocosm of life in many ways. The tide pool contains living species of fish, reptiles and crustaceans, all delineated by their own life cycle which can change with the tides or with the events of weather. Ms. Munro's stories are like this. She will take a small microcosm of life and show how it has enduring and lifelong effects - effects which may be immediately observable or which may not be obvious for decades.

'Too Much Happiness' is a collection of ten short stories, each wonderful in their own right and each one as rich and nuanced as a novel. Many of them deal with similar themes - paradox, movement through time, repercussions of impulse, regret, acts of horror and relationships.

'Dimensions', the first story in the collection is about a damaged woman whose three children are murdered. She goes through life feeling empty through she talks to a social worker regularly. She is driven to visit and re-visit her ex-husband in jail. At one point he writes her a diatribe about his revelations that their children are now in another dimension. On her way to visit him one evening on the bus, she witnesses a car accident and attempts CPR on the victim. Through the CPR, she can feel life return to the young man who is near death's door.

By the third story in this collection, 'Wenlock Edge', specific themes begin to emerge - Who are we? Do we change in relationships? Of what are we capable under certain situations? Do these situations have particular reasons or are they random events related to our current environments?

The story begins with a a young woman who has regular visits from her aunt and bachelor uncle when she is a child. Her aunt dies. The young woman continues school in the city and has a weekly ritual dinner with her uncle. She also has a small circle of acquaintances. Solely by chance, she ends up with a part-time roommate with a `history'. This roommate is always getting herself into situations that don't work out and that compromise her virtue. She is also a prolific liar and likes to be in one-up situations with others. Both young women find themselves "on their way to deeds they didn't know they had in them".

'Deep-Holes' begins with a family outing to celebrate the father's publication of a paper on geology. During the course of the picnic, one of the sons, Kent, falls into a crater and breaks both of his legs. He has to remain out of school for six months. During that time, Kent and his mother share stories about distant isles and lands that are remote or unknown to mankind. One of the children becomes an attorney, the other a physician. Kent drops out of college and is heard from rarely and erratically. He lives on the fringes of society and the question arises, `What is society? The story reminded me of a novel by Carol Shields, a Canadian author, now deceased. I wondered if this story might be an homage to Ms. Shield's novel.

'The Face' is a wonderful story about a boy born with a port wine stain on half of his face. His father abhors him for his looks and calls him `liver face'. The father is rude, crude, awful. The mother is sanctimonious, martyr-like and loving her son in a standoffish way. The father avoids the son in every manner possible - he doesn't eat with him, talk to him or spend time with him. Ms. Munro brings up a lot of questions about this boy's life and the metaphor of paradox is paramount. "You think that would have changed things? The answer is of course, and for a while, and never".

'Child's Play' is a story that is idyllic on the surface and horrific in the interior. Two young girls attend a summer camp and during the course of this camp they do something that is never spoken about again until decades later. Even then the extent of what happened when they were children is not fully absorbed.

Each of these stories is masterful and wonderful in the telling. I've read the book twice and appreciate it more with each reading. There is no one living to compare Ms. Munro with. The only writer I can think of whose short stories I love as much as hers is Eudora Welty. What a group of two!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]

Comments

Track comments by e-mail
Tracked by 4 customers

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 18, 2009 1:53:41 PM PST
I can't wait to read this, Bonnie. I, too, think Alice Munro is a natural treasure. Among the short story writers, I love Tobias Wolff, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Jean Thompson. But Alice Munro is definitely the best. I'll cross my fingers that this is in Vine tomorrow.
Jill

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2009 5:06:14 PM PST
J. Alexander says:
Bonnie is an excellent reviewer. I enjoy her use of words. What a treasure she is.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2009 5:10:49 PM PST
John, Thank you for your nice compliment. Bonnie

Posted on Dec 1, 2009 8:04:40 AM PST
Bonnie--What a beautiful review. Your metaphor of the tide pool gives me chills. I have this mental block about short stories but I need to get over it.

SBug

Posted on Dec 15, 2009 3:39:48 PM PST
It's good to read a review by someone who cherishes great storytelling (and Alice Munro is a GREAT storyteller). I like Bonnie's metaphor of the tide pool for Munro's fiction - it does indeed swirl and giitter, and somewhere deep down is the still point. But Bonnie's summaries of the new Munro stories barely hint at their mystery, their luminous fascination. Munro is our contemporary Chekhov. She addresses the most mundane (though in this collection sometimes horrific) events and stumbles upon something revelatory about what human beings are capable of. She reminds me of Chardin, the 18th century French painter of homely still-lifes. She looks so intensely at the ordinariness of life that it becomes - as we know it to be - extraordinary.

Posted on Dec 15, 2009 3:42:04 PM PST
It's good to read a review by someone who cherishes great storytelling (and Alice Munro is a GREAT storyteller). I like Bonnie's metaphor of the tide pool for Munro's fiction - it does indeed swirl and giitter, and somewhere deep down is the still point. But Bonnie's summaries of the new Munro stories barely hint at their mystery, their luminous fascination. Munro is our contemporary Chekhov. She addresses the most mundane (though in this collection sometimes horrific) events and stumbles upon something revelatory about what human beings are capable of. She reminds me of Chardin, the 18th century French painter of homely still-lifes. She looks so intensely at the ordinariness of life that it becomes - as we know it to be - extraordinary.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2009 4:02:11 PM PST
Dear Charles, Thank you for taking the time to comment on my review. I wish I could have done Ms. Munro more justice. I find that short story collections are much more difficult to review than novels as there is so much going on in so many directions, like a swirling compass. I thought hard before I came up with the tide pool metaphor and I appreciate your compliment about it. Bonnie

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2009 2:47:17 AM PST
M. Thompson says:
SBug
I have the same feelings about short stories. I never read them. One of these days I will give it a try.
Your fan,
Melpomene

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2009 8:20:22 AM PST
Dear Melpomene, Thanks for your comment. I think every book lover can enjoy wonderful short stories. I hope you give them a try. Bonnie

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2009 12:18:40 PM PST
M. Thompson says:
dear bonnie
thanks so much for responding to my comment. i certainly will read your book in the near future. i have to finish the stack of books i just received from amazon.
melpomene
‹ Previous 1 2 Next ›

Review Details

Item

Reviewer

Fairbanks Reader
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Location: Fairbanks, AK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 347