Alice Munro writes and if you are ardent fan, you ensure that you read the book in almost a sitting, cherish it, reread it and only then you feel satiated. This always happens to me when I read a collection of stories by Munro. I have to reread it for solid and sometimes inexplicable reasons. There is no any other way. That is my personal connect with her, as there are other quirks when it comes to reading other writers. However, that is for a later date.
“Dear Life” is the new book by Alice Munro. Munro writes of people, emotions, and links what is familiar to her – the Canadian terrain, which almost becomes the core of each story. She captures the essence of life, the daily humdrum of living, and what it is to be human and make your mistakes over and over again.
“Dear Life” is a collection of ten stories and four autobiographical pieces, that center on Munro’s childhood. The others are written in typical Munro style – not giving away too much and at the same time letting the reader know exactly how much is needed to get into the thick of the story. A poetess in an unknown territory, who wants more from her life eventually and decisions are made for her. A soldier who is on his way home to his fiancée steps off the train before his stop, only to find himself in love with another woman. A woman grieves over the past and its consequences.
The four autobiographical pieces were the ones that stayed with me the longest. I guess that was maybe because they were written with a little more emotion than the others. According to me, Alice Munro’s craft is unlike the rest who fall in the category of the short story. Her writing is sometimes with heavy weight attached to it and then at others there is this lightness to it, which makes you wonder about how she does it so effortlessly (or so it seems).
Stories are formed. Stories are told. The writer needs to be strong enough to do that. Alice Munro is a storyteller par genius. She knows exactly when to write what word, which emotion fits in what context and what should the characters do or not do. Her stories are almost like watching a concert – they reveal themselves bit by bit, sound by sound and word by word. That is precisely why you must read, “Dear Life”.