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.
Recommend this book
Add your recommendation
Only registered users can recommend books. Please use the buttons below to either create a new account, or sign-in to an existing account.
What unifies the 14 stories in Dear Life is a quietness of tone and the unliterary language. Munro writes as an exceptionally ordinary person might do in a letter to a close friend, never using words you need to look up in a dictionary and never introducing flashy metaphors and similes, and never misplacing a comma. The style is in keeping with the settings, where a doctor's bill can be the undoing of a family, religion weighs heavily on the soul and everyone knows everyone else's business - Herald
A slight sense of withholding gives Munro's prose its gracefulness, and allows intimacy without danger. After many years, many collections and many wonderful stories, readers may feel they know everything about Alice Munro, especially as so many of her characters lead lives similar to her own. In fact, we know very little about her. This is one of the reasons readers become dizzy with love for Munro. This other reason is that she is so damn good - Guardian
A collection of stories unravelling the mystery in the domestic...candid - Sunday Telegraph
Deceptively artless...Munro has no need for tricks; there is nothing strange. Just everyday life, in all its plain, abundant richness and sorrow - Metro
[A] striking collection - Psychologies
In this book Munro has laid bare the foundations of her fiction as never before. Lovers of her writing must hope this is not, in fact, her finale. But if it is, it’s spectacular - Daily Telegraph
Alice Munro is one of our greatest living writers, and this new collection of stories…is essential reading for anyone who cares about literature, storytelling and language, or who savours the deep enjoyment of a writer at the height of her powers…These stories remind us of the world Munro was born into…And they remind us, therefore, how lucky we are to have Munro herself and her subtle, intelligent and true work - Financial Times
Even at a time when a loosening of creative vitality or ambition would be forgivable and expected, Alice Munro retains her unique, her amazing power - Evening Standard
The stories of Alice Munro are the stuff of live – of family, history, loss and love - Times Literary Supplement
WhenAlice Munro won the Man Booker International prize in 2009, many considered it a beatification that was long overdue. For decades, Munro has been publishing collection after collection of beautiful short stories, widely admired, widely read, but it's been an unflashy career, seemingly careless of the trappings of fame or bestsellerdom. This is simply a good writer doing what she loves - Observer
Told with magnificent understatement - Daily Mail
The stories are simultaneously illuminating about human nature and bewildering about its inadequacies…masterful - Daily Express
An unwritten rule states that story-writers can only be compared to other story-writers, but Munro, with her amused irony and the sense she conveys of possessing insight on an endless spool, brings to mind Anne Tyler - New Statesman
This new collection is a marvellous as ever. She is one of the very few contemporary writers whose work certainly belongs on the great literature shelf… We are lucky to be able to travel Alice Munro’s road, which is also our own road, with her - Spectator
Richly metaphorical, her work is so beguiling at the level of story that it’s only on a third or fourth reading you begin to notice subtextual layers, the poetic subsoil. This is perhaps what readers sense when they fall back on those rather lazy words “magic”, “mystery” and “alchemy”. Is the magic in the metaphors that affect the readers without their knowing it? Yes. And it’s also in compelling rhythm of Munro’s prose, as she leads you along a winding woodland path into the depths of the human psyche. And it’s in her humour, her intelligence, her knack for storytelling. What is “magic” in literature if it is not a weaving together of many strong and subtle threads to form a perfect tapestry, the impact of which leaves on speechless? Like the effect of an autumn tree, or the light of evening. This is what her stories do. These stories, and almost all her stories… This is a fresh masterpiece, surrounded by stories that are simultaneously old and new… From very simple stuff she has created very great literature. Maybe, after all, the perfect word, the only word that says just enough about the writer and her stories, in that last resort of the speechless: magic - Irish Times
Alice Munro is widely considered to be the best writer of the form (short story) in the English language working today, and that praise is backed up by this extraordinary collection… describing crucial turning points in lives, Munro casts a light on the excruciating disconnect between human hope and ambition and the reality of all our lives. Remarkable stuff - Big Issue
The stories in her new collection – fictional bulletins from her native southern Ontario on life’s unexpectedness, lurking dangers and chance fulfilments – are triumphs of veteran expertise and imaginative vigour - Sunday Times
Deep and surprising and unsparing - Guardian
A great year for the short story... fine new collection - Evening Standard
Another dazzling collection of short stories, provincial and universal in equal measure - Observer
There are no verbal pyrotechnics here, no showy plots, just lyrical sentences that build imperceptibly to gut-wrenching endings…all human frailty is depicted with exquisite pinpoint detail - Financial Times
Alice Munro's inclusion in best-of-year lists is, I have been reliably informed, a legal requirement. Where Munro is concerned, the law is not an ass. From its finely weighted title to the four personal vignettes that end this exquisite collection, Dear Life… feels more plain-speaking than previous collections. I have already reached for it again to re-read these profound searches for lost time in small-town Canada. If someone has written 20 pages that are more unobtrusively powerful than the title story, then I am happy to eat them come Christmas. 'There was quite a lot of killing going on, now that I think of it,'is one of the lines of the year - Independent
Throughout this book, sentence after sentence leaps off the page and arrows into his heart… Munro’s truth-telling genius is hard to anatomise, but to read this book is to be further convinced of her pre-eminence - The Lady
I hope she (Munro) lives to 101, because I cannot imagine a world without her - Irish Times
Every word pulls its weight - Intelligent Life
There’s so much to admire in Munro’s ease of touch, her control, her wisdom lightly worn - Civilian
By this author
About the Author
Alice Munro was born in 1931 and is the author of twelve collections of stories, most recently Too Much Happiness, and a novel, Lives of Girls and Women. She has received many awards and prizes, including three of Canada's Governor General's Literary Awards and two Giller Prizes, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Lannan Literary Award, the WHSmith Book Award in the UK, the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for The Beggar Maid, and has been awarded the Man Booker International Prize 2009 for her overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly,Paris Review and other publications, and her collections have been translated into thirteen languages. She lives with her husband in Clinton, Ontario, near Lake Huron in Canada.