Reviewed by Amy Gruzesky
This Nobel Prize-winning collection is more than just a piece of noteworthy literature. I had never read Alice Munro before picking up this particular book, a collection of short stories, all focused on a woman or women and their experiences in various points in life, making their way through the experiences life has chosen to throw at them.
And the great thing about this collection, well, one of the great things, is that the women inhabiting each story are relatable. They are real women — they are not built up or put on pedestals or made to be sappy, pathetic victims. They are just like the rest of us, and that is what makes this book one that I think most readers can relate to.
While reading each story, I found myself coming upon passages that rang true — either I had at one time been like this particular woman or knew one just like that. But written in such an elegant, thought-provoking way, that it took me longer than it should have to get through this book — as I found myself going back to reread certain sentences and paragraphs.
In fact, if you’re like me, and appreciate good writing, truly good writing, this is a book for you, as the writing itself is worth the read, even if you end up not liking the characters or the stories, which I personally can’t imagine.
The only potential drawback, in my opinion, is that none of the characters do anything extraordinary, earth-shattering, or life-changing.
Rather, the extraordinariness of this work is how Munro captures the complex and intimate thoughts, feelings, and emotions that women feel every day, and the power and beauty of self-realization that they gain as they progress through life.
In Connection, the opening story and the first part of a two-part piece, Munro introduces the reader to visiting aunts, from both sides of a family, described from the point of view of their niece; in Turkey Season, a girl gets a holiday job gutting turkeys at a turkey farm and ends up observing a situation between two employees that she doesn’t realize the full extent of until years later. In Accident, Munro writes of a tragic affair; and Dulse, we share the experiences of a woman traveling to an island alone and how her interactions with those she meets along the way convey what she happens to be going through at that point in her life.
Munro’s stories are not fluff or trite — rather they have a lot of substance and pack a punch. They are stories that get you thinking, maybe even relating to these characters, and are ones you won’t soon forget.
In fact, if you lean toward being introspective, you may even find yourself re-reading one or two, trying to derive even more meaning and insight than you did during the first read.
Or, if you simply love good writing, you may end up re-reading some of them just for the sheer enjoyment of Munro’s amazing writing and story-telling alone.