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Poor Rose

Christian Lorentzen: Against Alice Munro

6 June 2013
Dear Life 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 319 pp., £18.99, November 2012, 978 0 7011 8784 2
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... There’s something confusing about the consensus around AliceMunro. It has to do with the way her critics begin by asserting her goodness, her greatness, her majorness or her bestness, and then quickly adopt a defensive tone, instructing us in ways of seeing as ...
8 May 1997
Selected Stories 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 412 pp., £16.99, November 1996, 0 7011 6521 9
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... familiar to the reader, but it is familiar to its characters. We learn to judge oddity by seeing it through them. In this category are Tolstoy, Chekhov; and in our age the late V.S. Pritchett and AliceMunro. AliceMunro is such a good writer that nobody bothers anymore to judge her goodness, as people long ago stopped judging Pritchett’s – her reputation is like a good address. She is surely ...

In Ontario

Carol Shields

7 February 1991
Friend of My Youth 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 273 pp., £13.99, October 1990, 0 7011 3663 4
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... The Canadian writer AliceMunro once likened a good short story to a commodious house whose every room possesses an exterior door. So accommodating a house, she wrote, is capable of admitting visitors through any number of openings ...

Dream Leaps

Tessa Hadley: Alice Munro

25 January 2007
The View from Castle Rock 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 349 pp., £15.99, November 2006, 0 7011 7989 9
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... AliceMunro doesn’t write much about her writing: there are only a few interviews, hardly any essays or journalistic pieces, and we don’t catch her holding forth about her literary likes and dislikes. But ...

Disconnected Realities

Mary Hawthorne: In the Munro​ mould

17 February 2005
Runaway 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 325 pp., £15.99, February 2005, 0 7011 7750 0
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... blue lines of Huron County, adhere to the geometry and history of acreage, drawing rectangles in a sprawl of rural sameness. At one intersection is the tiny town of Wingham (population c.2952), where AliceMunro was born in 1931, and twenty miles to the south, another tiny town: Clinton (population c.3240), where Munro has lived for the past thirty years with her second husband. Munro seems from the ...

Suspicion of Sentiment

Benjamin Markovits: Alice Munro

13 December 2001
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 323 pp., £14.99, November 2001, 0 7011 7292 4
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... It was love she sickened at,’ AliceMunro wrote in The Beggar Maid. ‘It was the enslavement, the self-abasement, the self-deception.’ If that’s her attitude it doesn’t promise much romance for her latest collection, despite its title ...
5 February 1987
The Progress of Love 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 309 pp., £9.95, January 1987, 0 7011 3161 6
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Ruth 
by Jeremy Cooper.
Hutchinson, 187 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 09 167110 8
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... Let us be sexist. The Progress of Love is a woman’s book, particularly interesting to men who want to know what women think of them and know about them. AliceMunro is a 56-year-old Canadian who has been married twice: she is particularly concerned with the knowingness derived from broken relationships. One of the 11 skilful stories in this book (her sixth ...
2 June 1983
Porky 
by Deborah Moggach.
Cape, 236 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 224 02948 7
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The Banquet 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Allen Lane, 191 pp., £6.95, May 1983, 0 7139 1574 9
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Binstead’s Safari 
by Rachel Ingalls.
Faber, 221 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 9780571130160
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In Good Faith 
by Edith Reveley.
Hodder, 267 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 340 32012 5
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Cousins 
by Monica Furlong.
Weidenfeld, 172 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 297 78231 2
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The Moons of Jupiter 
by Alice Munro.
Allen Lane, 233 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 7139 1549 8
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On the Stroll 
by Alix Kates Shulman.
Virago, 301 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 86068 364 8
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The Color Purple 
by Alice​ Walker.
Women’s Press, 244 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 0 7043 3905 6
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Mistral’s Daughter 
by Judith Krantz.
Sidgwick, 531 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 283 98987 4
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... shining example of how well a woman can write without being fantastic, archaic, obtrusive or sentimental, without, in fact, displaying the rather tired characteristics of womanliness, is provided by AliceMunro in The Moons of Jupiter. In this excellent collection of stories, AliceMunro is treading on the heels of her compatriot, Margaret Atwood. Events are less powerful in Munro’s stories; most ...

Imbued … with Exigence

Christopher Tayler: Rachel Cusk

22 September 2005
In the Fold 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 224 pp., £10.99, September 2005, 0 571 22813 5
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... what the book group would make of Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus, or Raymond Carver, or Richard Yates’s reissued Revolutionary Road, a whole novel about a married couple arguing. What about AliceMunro? Could she attract them, truthful, small-scale and brilliant as she is? Or would they not have it, the clear reflection of the quotidian, the visceral, redeeming pain of recognition? As I wrote ...

Eric Hobsbawm

Karl Miller

25 October 2012
... hat (or not – I certainly recall his wife Marlene’s referring to such garments in fine satiric vein), I spoke eagerly to him of my new admiration for the stories of our Canadian contemporary AliceMunro – only to learn that he already shared it. I felt as if I was sitting at his feet. There can’t have been many Oxford and Cambridge dons who might have said the same at that point. Another ...

Short Cuts

Sheng Yun: ‘Finnegans Wake’ in China

2 April 2014
... books – seven volumes have generated ten million sales – and The Da Vinci Code. Publishers don’t have to prime the fiction lists for books like these. Other star performers are the stories of AliceMunro and the authorised translation of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Non-fiction lists are usually populated by textbooks and get-rich-quick titles. There is also a mountain of health guides. Study ...

Rescue us, writer

Christian Lorentzen: George Saunders

7 February 2013
Tenth of December 
by George Saunders.
Bloomsbury, 251 pp., £14.99, January 2013, 978 1 4088 3734 4
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... more than a receptacle for our pity. Cancer has a reflex humanising effect in fiction. It’s malign without motive, an intruder that disrupts domestic tranquillity or workplace banality; leave it to AliceMunro, Lorrie Moore or Joshua Ferris. The disease is out of place in Saunders’s skewed world. His stories are more satisfying when his characters’ good intentions bring about their undoing ...

Queenie

Alice Munro

30 July 1998
... Queenie said,​ ‘Maybe you better stop calling me that,’ and I said, ‘What?’ ‘Stan doesn’t like it,’ she said. ‘Queenie.’ It was a worse surprise to me to hear her say ‘Stan’ than to have her tell me to call her by her right name, which was Lena. But I could hardly expect her to go on calling him Mr Vorguilla, now that they were married, and had been for nearly two years. During ...

Pour a stiff drink

Tessa Hadley: Elizabeth Jane Howard

6 February 2014
All Change 
by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
Mantle, 573 pp., £18.99, November 2013, 978 0 230 74307 6
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... this room unknown to her with an inhuman absence of awe or interest. She took her bearings, but in an abstract way – the draped dishevelled big bed, prodigal dressing table, strewn sofa …’ AliceMunro is at the plain end of the spectrum of style. ‘Maury was in the front bedroom looking for his swimming trunks, though everybody had told him that the water would be too cold for swimming. He ...

Getting the Undulation

Benjamin Lytal: Willa Cather’s Letters

20 February 2014
The Selected Letters of Willa Cather 
edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout.
Knopf, 715 pp., £24, April 2013, 978 0 307 95930 0
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... that a Nebraska boy had brought down four Jap planes on Christmas day … We have millions of boys like Bob, but not in big cities.’ You see that, sometimes, she fuelled her loves with hates. AliceMunro​ , writing in 1980, laid her finger on the sore spot of Cather appreciation in a short story called ‘Dulse’. The narrator, a 45-year-old woman, encounters an 81-year-old Cather devotee at ...

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