Selected Stories

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9780679446279: Selected Stories

A true literary event, the publication of this generous selection of stories--drawn from Alice Munro's seven collections spanning 30 years--gives enormous reading pleasure while it confirms Munro's place in the front ranks of today's writers of fiction. These 28 stories about lovers, parents and children, sex, seduction, marriage, murder, dreams, and death are pure essence of Munro.

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"Too many things," a creative writing instructor tells the narrator of "Differently." "Too many things going on at the same time; also too many people. Think, he told her. What is the important thing? What do you want us to pay attention to? Think." What does Alice Munro want us to pay attention to in her Selected Stories? Everything, really, and so her narratives loop back on themselves, jump decades backward and forward in time, introduce characters who later drop out of the action, and generally break every rule in the short-story-writing book. In "Carried Away," for instance, a dead character makes a sudden, inexplicable appearance in what is otherwise the thoroughly naturalistic account of a librarian's disappointment with love. "The Albanian Virgin" is two stories in one: the first--the fanciful tale of Ghegs kidnapping a young Canadian woman--is told within the second, about a bookstore owner who has lost her own bearings after a divorce. There are stories that begin with their endings, and several more that end with beginnings; others are told from three or four different angles, each with varying degrees of reliability. Taken together, they form an intricate web of relationships and connections, falsehood and anecdote, a kind of fictional palimpsest laid over the faint traces of plot.

And yet Munro trusts her readers; she believes that we will pay attention to all these things and more. She aims to create the illusion that everything in her fiction has been left in, and it is this very capaciousness that sets her work apart, making possible the keen psychological insight of her stories about marriage as well as the cool violence of "Vandals" or "Fits." Hers is an unusual sort of realism, technically innovative and amenable--especially in the later work--to loose ends. (It also possesses a quick, flinty wit: "This was the first time I understood how God could become a real opponent, not just some kind of nuisance or large decoration," says the narrator of "The Progress of Love.") To call Munro the Canadian Chekhov is by now a commonplace--and yet she may have done more for the short fiction form than any writer since. These are stories that will be read, savored, and admired hundreds of years from now. --Mary Park

About the Author:

Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has published sixteen books — Dance of the Happy Shades; Lives of Girls and Women, Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You; Who Do You Think You Are?; The Moons of Jupiter; The Progress of Love; Friend of My Youth; Open Secrets; Selected Stories; The Love of a Good Woman; Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage; Runaway; The View from Castle Rock; Alice Munro’s Best, Too Much Happiness, and Dear Life. During her distinguished career she has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including the recent Nobel Prize in Literature which cited her as “a master of the contemporary short story.”

Here at home she has won too many awards to list, including three Governor General’s Literary Awards, two Giller Prizes, several Trillium Prizes and a number of Libris Awards. Elsewhere she has won the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Lannan Literary Award, England’s W. H. Smith Book Award, Italy’s Pescara prize, the United States’ National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Edward MacDowell Medal in literature. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Saturday Night, The Paris Review, and other publications, and her collections have been translated into thirteen languages.

Alice Munro divides her time between Clinton, Ontario, and Comox, British Columbia.

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