Publisher Weekly - Best Books of 2012

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Dear Life: Stories (2012)

Written by Alice Munro

A brilliant new collection of stories from one of the most acclaimed and beloved writers of our time.

Alice Munro’s peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but always spacious and timeless stories is once again everywhere apparent in this brilliant new collection. In story after story, she illumines the moment a life is forever altered by a chance encounter or an action not taken, or by a simple twist of fate that turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into a new way of being or thinking. A poet, finding herself in alien territory at her first literary party, is rescued by a seasoned newspaper columnist, and is soon hurtling across the continent, young child in tow, toward a hoped-for but completely unplanned meeting. A young soldier, returning to his fiancée from the Second World War, steps off the train before his stop and onto the farm of another woman, beginning a life on the move. A wealthy young woman having an affair with the married lawyer hired by her father to handle his estate comes up with a surprising way to deal with the blackmailer who finds them out.

While most of these stories take place in Munro’s home territory—the small Canadian towns around Lake Huron—the characters sometimes venture to the cities, and the book ends with four pieces set in the area where she grew up, and in the time of her own childhood: stories “autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact.” A girl who can’t sleep imagines night after wakeful night that she kills her beloved younger sister. A mother snatches up her child and runs for dear life when a crazy woman comes into her yard. 

Suffused with Munro’s clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these tales about departures and beginnings, accidents and dangers, and outgoings and homecomings both imagined and real, paint a radiant, indelible portrait of how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be. (Copyright © Knopf/Random House. All rights reserved.)

Source:  Penguin Random House Company.

Alice Munro is widely regarded as one of the most important short-story writers, not just in Canada but in the English-speaking world as a whole. Munro's work has been described as having revolutionized the architecture of short stories, especially in its tendency to move forward and backward in time.

Her books are Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), Lives of Girls and Women (1971), Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You (1974), Who Do You Think You Are? (1978), The Moons of Jupiter (1982), The Progress of Love (1986), Friend of My Youth (1990), Open Secrets (1994), The Love of a Good Woman (1998), Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001), Runaway (2004), The View from Castle Rock (2006), Too Much Happiness (2009) and Dear Life (2012).

The recognition Munro's fiction has earned includes three Governor-General's awards (1968, 1978, 1986), two Giller Prizes (1998, 2004), and the Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement in 2009, as well as the Canada-Australia Literary Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean), and the O. Henry Award in the US for continuing achievement in short fiction. In 2005, Munro was listed as one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people.” She was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, cited as a "master of the contemporary short story". She is the first Canadian and the 13th woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Various adaptations of her stories have appeared on television. The short film of "Boys and Girls" won an Oscar in 1984. Her short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" from her 2001 collection Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage was adapted for the screen and directed by Sarah Polley as Away from Her (2006). It debuted at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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