I started the year off with a review of Mavis Gallant’s stories, and now for the next Canadian literary siren, Alice Munro. Famous of course for winning the Nobel Prize and for a few of her stories/linked stories becoming films, Alice Munro is known for writing exclusively short stories, though she herself admits in the introduction to this collection that she had wanted to write novels but they never came and that as she got older her stories became long and longer. The longest story in here is probably 40-45 pages and none is shorter than 10. I like her work, but it can feel very much like variations on a theme. I read these on a mini-vacation and I wouldn’t recommend this because I did find some blended into each other. Instead, I think balancing this out along multiple periods of reading will find them more satisfying. I did really really like some of the linked stories and many of the stories are secretly and quietly funny.
These are mostly middle-class stories of a kind of small town and rural bent. They are about families and jobs and marriages and divorces. They range from the 1960s through the 1970s and they mostly feel like masterclass pieces in the kinds of stories you would recognize from that time period. She’s clear in the middle of the pack of influence, meaning she’s borrowing from those who came before her…Paley, Cheever, Gallant, McCarthy, Stafford, etc…and is equally influencing those after her Beattie, Moore, etc.