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Showing 1-10 of 96 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 106 reviews
on March 29, 2013
I just discovered Alice Munroe about 6 months ago and now I read everything I can get my hands on! She is the master of the short story. These stories really stay with you long after reading.
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VINE VOICEon September 2, 2016
This is the seventh collection of Alice Munro’s stories that I have read. Serendipity so often introduces us to a new author, and I still recall when I first made the acquaintance of her work. The Love of a Good Woman : Stories, a title that captures the aspirations of many a man, was sitting on the dining room table of a Canadian friend, in Riyadh, of all places. He was a reader of quality books, so I duly took note, and purchased a copy for myself, based on his recommendation. And it has been a love affair ever after.

This is the second collection of her stories, published in 1974. I remain impressed with the uniform quality of her stories: all excellent. There is no “early period,” no period where she was “trying to find her voice.” She had profound insight into the human condition, right from the very beginning of her writing.

Her stories are between 20 and 30 pages. Many of them are “epics,” in that they range over the entire life of a person, or a family, and sometimes span a couple generations. Usually they are told from the female point of view. Both the longing, and the cynicism in the search for love and meaning in life are expressed. Unlike perhaps any other writer, she helps me recall incidents of my youth that have long been forgotten. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, some 250-350 miles from the settings of various stories which are set in Ontario, Canada. I still recall “white-out” snow storms, and washing machines with ringers… and in one story a five-year old girl lost her arm to an automatic ringer.

Yes, the ‘40’s and ‘50’s were simpler times, in some ways, before the addiction to electronic communications, and before “active shooter drills.” Sensory deprivation was less… the weather more real, the nature of work, also. But there was also violence, as her story, “The Executioners,” reminds us. And all too often a child’s life was cut short, by drowning in a lake, or by some disease that we did not have a ready remedy for. The yearning for love seems to be the one constants that transcends then and now.

Take the story that lends its title to this collection: “Something I’ve been meaning to tell you.” It concerns two sisters, who have never left their native town, and the high school lover of one (or both?). He has left, and come back, still charming, after two wives, and drives a tour bus around the rather invented “sights” of the area. One sister, late one night, in high school, observed the other… yet she herself, even beyond middle age has never told the other about… “Something I’ve been…” “The Found Boat” reminds the reader how we entertained ourselves in the pre-electronic era. There were the spring floods from melting snow, not all of which were harnessed by dams. Kids played hopscotch on the sidewalks, for the first time in the year, cleared of snow. When was the last time anyone saw kids playing hopscotch… particularly without adult supervision? And there were the “coming of age” sexual dares, long before a kid might be arrested for sexting. There was always “plausible deniability”!

Again, and again there is that “Remembrance of Things Past” aspect. How did that first lover, or first spouse turn out? In another story a woman has made the “safe choice” of a reliable Rumanian engineer as a second husband. But how did the more mercurial and selfish writer first husband turn out? In another story, a 15-year old high school drop-out works as a servant in a country house, dresses up in the wife’s finery when she is not away, and explains how she met her husband. Time and time again Munro provides the telling detail(s) of the lives of her characters that explain most, if not all of the “big picture.” In another story, after the death of her lover, a woman travels across the country, and is hit hard by the bag full of letters that she receives.

As a final sampling, consider the following, also with a female narrator, from the story, “Tell me Yes or No.” “At the age when young girls nowadays are growing their hair to their waists, traveling through Afghanistan, moving – it seems to me – as smoothly as eels among their varied and innocent and transitory loves.” “When I finished The Magic Mountain I meant to get us though Remembrance of Things Past: Volume I - Swann's Way & Within a Budding Grove (Vintage).” “But occasionally I would have to get out of bed, later, and go into the bathroom to put in my diaphragm…creatures of daily use, inseparable from infants, stoves, and tubs, turned now to our nightly use, with its connotations – rapidly fading – of sin and splendor… I remember far back…how sex had seemed apocalyptic (we read Lawrence, many of us were virgins at twenty.)”

Munro never ceases to dazzle. Each of her prior six collections I have given my special 6-star rating to. There is certainly no reason to stop: another 6-stars.
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on June 28, 2013
Probably like you, I read - a lot. There is no doubt that Alice Munro is one of our best contemporary writers. I recently spent six weeks confined to a wheel chair. I re-read several of the Munro books and thought that I enjoyed them far more on the second reading than the first. That is always what is said about "the classics". The really great writers seem to get better with every re-reading. I hope that I can live long enough to re-read Munro's books for the third and fourth and fifth time. She is a very gifted writer.
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on March 22, 2016
If you like to read then you have nothing to lose by reading anything this woman writes, and if you hope to write then you have everything to gain and might as well get to this collection because it's a good place to meet Munro. Some favorites include: the title story; then How I Met My Husband which had a slight pleasant twist to the ending; Forgiveness in Families, a woman's touching and funny reflection on her eccentric brother; Marrakesh was a fascinating read, and the last two stories: Memorial, about a sister's betrayal & The Ottawa Valley were just so methodically moving without hitting you over the head.
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on September 9, 2013
Something about Ms. Munro's writing style reminds me of Angela's Ashes. The realistic portrayal of believable characters doing things that we all have done at one time or another; the vivid mental images drawn by her words; the interaction between characters and surprising, yet not so surprising, places that their decisions lead them to. Excellent, thought-provoking literature.
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on September 5, 2013
Interesting style, impeccable, stories that won't let you breath till you finish them, and won't let you down. Unexpected endings. All in all, highly recommended.
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on December 27, 2014
Alice Munro isn't for everyone. OK, OK, she is for about 95% of humanity! That makes a lot of people. She has this knack about taking some of the most simple, mundane events and turning them into deeply meaningful events with carefully crafted characters. No place or no one is ordinary for her and soon it also isn't for us. I love reading a story by her and putting the book down to let the story sink in before I pick it up again few days or a week later for the next story. I wouldn't think it would be fair to her just to go through her stories to come to the end of the book. They need to be cherished and internalized to become nourishment for one's soul. I guarantee you will never face another person, a small town, a not-so-important location or task and understand it as such. You will view all you face with a fresh smile.
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on November 24, 2015
The title of the book caught my attention by the mistery the word “something” implied. This book is a collection of 13 short stories first published in 1974. I am not a fan of short stories as they almost always leave a “so what’s next” question unanswered. Alice Munro stories, by contrast, give a clear sense of the story’s end, some even too abrupt to my taste.
Some stories are personalized and presented as the author’s own experience, some have feminine characters, ten year old girls, teenagers, married women, seniors. More on http://lovevonbeautyvonlove.com/2015/06/17/something-ive-been-meaning-to-tell-you-by-alice-munro/
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on June 22, 2013
Her stories are often simple events cut out from everyday life. Her power of portrayal of the character's inner life is amazing. She knows how to descibe contradictory feelings and how those feelings affects people's behavior and choices in life. She never condemns anyone.
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on June 10, 2014
I was traveling in a more remote part of Iceland. The stories took place in somewhat similar surrounds. There were a few themes that ran through the different stories. Men wander. You choose between the men who are exciting and those who you can live with. Their wandering does not mean they have character flaws. It is who they are. We ourselves as women are also capable of hurtful behavior.
It was the right kind of book to read on the trip. I was taken by some aspects of the stories. I did not understand why she won so many awards based on what I saw in these stories.
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