Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Runaway by Alice Munro

Runaway by Alice Munro (2004, 335 pages)

Runaway by Alice Munro (1930-Ontario, Canada) is a collection of eight short stories.    All the stories are set in Canada, mostly in Ontario, and all have as their central characters women more or less trying to runaway from the circumstances  that trap them.    Most of the stories are about thirty five pages long, with the final story being twice as long as the others.    (I have previously posted on the title story from the collection, "Runaway".)

Most of the women in the stories come from small towns in Ontario.   I was pleased to see that several of them are very literate.   The stories are about the accidents that shape our lives, in fact in two  of the stories this is literally true as car accidents play a big part in some of the plots.   Some of the characters do seem a bit lost and some of them or their daughters ended up married to doctors.    Munro packs a lot of life into thirty pages and make the years fly by for us.  

I got a good feeling for what life must be like in the Canadian winter from these stories.     Many people who have only lived in tropical climates like the Philippines find it hard to relate to the closed in feeling such harsh winters can impart to lives.    Living in a climate dominated by rain cycles seems to me to shape the psyche in ways very different from one dominated by long periods of potentially killing cold.

I enjoyed reading these stories a lot and I can see why Munro is such a highly regarded short story writer.    If you were to take a poll among short story lovers as to who the best living writer in the genre was, I think most people would say "Alice Munro" unless they are from Ireland and then "William Trevor" might be the pick.

Munro has published ten collections of short stories.   I will next read her The View from Castle Rock, probably in 2012.

Please let us know of your experience with Munro.

Mel u


Mystica said...

A new author for me so I appreciate your post.

WordsBeyondBorders said...

I would suggest her 'hateship loveship courtship friendship marriage', if you have not read it already. It's probably her best collection (includes the gem 'The Bear Came Over The Mountain'). It's even better than 'Runway' which itself is no mean collection, says a lot about Munro's talent :)


@parridhlantern said...

Great post & especially the comment on weather & psyche, not considered this before but makes a lot of sense, in fact it would be interesting to divide writers up along such lines just to see what correlations or differences there were.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I just read 'The Bishop's Man' and that was my first experience with Canadian Literature. I think I would like this one, so thanks for the recommendation.

Debbie Rodgers said...

I think that those of us who live in harsh winter climates (most Canadians) have at some time pondered on the link between climate and our outlook on life as well as our relationships with others.

At first, I thought you meant that you had a favourable feeling about Canadian winters from reading Munro, but I'm guessing that I understood, and that you have a better understanding now. That makes so much more sense LOL

Mel u said...

Mystica-I hope you will be able to try Munro

Parrish Lantern-I also think the issue of weather and types of works produced is an interesting one

Sam (Tiny Library)-thanks as always for your comments and visits.

Debbie Rogers-yes I meant I think the Munro stories helped me to see how the Canadians winters effects the mental states of those who live through them-of course they most provide awfully beautiful vistas and winter sports options as well

WordsbeyondBorders-thanks for the suggestion as to additional Munro works

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I thought this was a great collection of stories as well. Fine author Munro.

Mel u said...

Diane-Bibliophile by the Sea-thanks as always for your visits and comments

Buried In Print said...

"Munro packs a lot of life into thirty pages..."

That's one of the reasons that I love her stories; they feel as complex and satisfying as some entire novels.

I've been steadily reading/re-reading through her oeuvre this year and I am just about to start Who Do You Think You Are (sometimes titled otherwise); I haven't been disappointed in these, earlier, stories one bit.

I think you'll appreciate The View from Castle Rock, as it will add to your sense of understanding Canada across the years and across the seasons.