Sunday, November 25, 2012
Dear Life by Alice Munro
Short stories are not really my favourite but it's hard to be critical of the master of the genre. Munro can develop characters better in 10 pages than some author's do in a 500 page novel. These stories are no different than her older collections - she explores the inner world of her characters, usually women, though in this case a couple of stories are from the male perspective. Her characters are quirky, often troubled outsiders, but have inner strength. Unusually for Munro, the last four stories are semi-autobiographical in nature and we see where she got some of the fodder for her writing. She grew up in poverty in small town Ontario, her mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at a young age and she was often bullied in school. But she persevered to graduate high school, which was not that common for women in her day, and go on to University. And she had an eclectic collection of family, friends and neighbours whose features undoubtedly make their way into her fiction. While I wasn't drawn into the collection to the point that I couldn't put it down (as is often the case with a well written novel), I'm not sorry I read this collection if for no other reason than to marvel at how she does it.