Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Family Furnishings" by Alice Munro

I have a terrible confession to make.  I, Shan, lover of Canadian literature and really all things Canadian, have never read anything by Alice Munro.  That’s right, celebrated writer of stories that scream Canada, our first winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, Alice Munro.  But I can proudly say that I am now able to change that statement.

Family Furnishings is the newest collection of short stories by Munro, twenty-four stories selected from the last two decades.  It is a companion volume to her previous Selected Stories (1964-1994.) At 640 pages, this is a book you will treasure and devour slowly.  Most short story collections you can read straight through, this is one you will spend a lot of valuable time with.

I’m a big fan of CanLit that takes you inside the treasury of quaint small-towns we have.  Munro situates most of her stories here, presenting a uniquely Canadian way of life.  Her writing is flawless and beautiful.  I was blown away by how consistent her stories are, each one as good as the next.  Most of the time when I read short story collections there are stories I love and stories I can do without, but that is not the case here.  I felt the same way about every story, and for me, that is a pretty big deal.

Munro’s stories are about real people.  People we know in our everyday lives.  People who are trying to find their way just like us.  It doesn’t get any more real this.  Munro captures our world just as it is in her writing and you feel fulfilled when you read it.

In her video shown at the Nobel Prize award ceremony, Munro said, 

“Oh, well, I want my stories to move people, I don't care if they are men or women or children. I want my stories to be something about life that causes people to say, not, oh, isn't that the truth, but to feel some kind of reward from the writing, and that doesn't mean that it has to be a happy ending or anything, but just that everything the story tells moves the reader in such a way that you feel you are a different person when you finish.”

I would say that she has accomplished this.  

(Read the transcript of the video here or watch it here.)

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are my own.


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