I won my copy of Dear Life by Alice Munro from the Goodreads Giveaway program. I was actually really excited to win this—I have been curious about Alice Munro’s work and thinking about picking up Lives of Girls and Women recently.
While Dear Life is beautifully written, it unfortunately didn’t leave me breathless enough to love love love it. I admit I am somewhat apprehensive about short stories, and do not have a lot of experience reading them in general. I was probably too busy the week I read Dear Life to really invest my full attention to it. That said, the stories did become stronger further into the collection, and, despite my trepidation, in hindsight I do remember several of the stories and characters.
Most of the stories are focused on women in rural or small-town Canada in the mid-twentieth century, and almost all have the protagonists dealing with complicated men or confusing love, and some sort of event (small or large) that informs their future in some way. This collection is not uplifting—the stories are rather emotionally complex and sad, in fact. But Munro’s prose is subdued yet still lyrical, making for a good, mellow read. The tableaux she presents are intricately crafted yet muted, and I imagined everything in sepia tone. In a scant ten or twenty pages, Munro is able to completely realize a character and reveal very human flaws in them. The first ten stories in Dear Life are fiction, and the last four are semi-autobiographical, fictionalized accounts of Munro’s own childhood.
Honestly there aren’t any clunkers in the collection, I just think that I should have started somewhere else with Munro, or maybe I need to try this one again at a later date. I believe if I had had the chance to read one or more full chapters per sitting (instead of stopping and starting in the middle of chapters), this collection would have more strongly impacted me. Still, the writing is lovely and I would read more Munro in the future given the opportunity.
Read from December 9 to 19, 2012.