Review: Dear Life

Dear Life is a collection of short stories from Alice Munro, one of the acknowledged masters of the form.  She is also getting old enough to wonder if each book will be her last.  Dear Life closes with a set of stories somewhere between fiction and autobiography that are closer to the facts than the others.

All of the stories display the craftsmanship and inspiration of a great writer.  Nothing is wasted.  Each story illuminates a character and a time sharply, usually caught in a key conflict. I found them quite beautiful, if a bit cool.  Some distance remains between me and them.  While some of that may be the inevitable gulf between an American man born in the 60’s as compared to Canadian women characters with another ten or twenty years of life, I think that a the tone is intentional.

The more autobiographical stories crackle more with life.  Some of this is because of their younger protagonists, but not all of it.  It’s difficult to put one’s finger on it, but there’s definitely more zip in the last few.  All of them are well worth reading though.


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