Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review: Dear Life by Alice Munro

On the jacket:



Alice Munro captures the essence of life in her brilliant new collection of stories. Moments of change, chance encounters, the twist of fate that leads a person to a new way of thinking or being: the stories in Dear Life build to form a radiant, indelible portrait of just how dangerous and strange ordinary life can be.

Many of these stories are grounded in Munro's home territory - the small Canadian towns around Lake Huron - but there are departures too. A poet, finding herself in alien territory at her first literary party, is reescued by a seasoned newspaper editor, and is soon hurtling across the continent, young child in tow, towards a hoped for but completely unplanned meeting. A young soldier, returning to his fiancée from the Second World War, steps off the train before his stop and onto the farm of another woman, beginning a life on the move.

The book ends with four powerful pieces, 'autobiographical in feeling', set during the time of Munro's own childhood, in the area where she grew up. Munro describes this quartet as 'not quite stories' but 'the first and last - and the closest - things I have to say about my own life'. Suffused with Munro's clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these and the other stories in Dear Life are cause for celebration.

Review:

This was my first read by Alice Munro and it would be wrong to not mention that I intend to read more of her works. Dear Life fully justifies who it was the winner of the Man Booker International Prize. A collection of fourteen short stories, Good Life is a classic of sorts. You need to read Munro to understand why so much hype surrounds her work; it deserves every bit of it. In case you are not a fan of short stories, you will be once you read Munro.

The stories are set around small incidents in real life, with female centric characters. The last four stories are not just stories, are actually memoirs, mostly autobiographical. Munro is 82, and I am yet to read her other books. I hope she isn't planning on retiring from writing. Reading Dear Life was an experience, a journey. Delving much into the plot of the stories would be silly, because what do I say? Read for yourselves!

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Random House India. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]


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