Dear Life: A Review

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A Wonderful Collection of Short Stories

Being a woman of my words and as promised earlier, I am here to tell you about Alice Munro’s collection of short stories, Dear Life.

Train– one of the short stories in this collection- was my chance encounter with the wonderland that Alice creates in her stories.  And having read that, with great expectations I sat down to read Dear Life, the last collection of short stories written by this 82-year-old Booker prize winner and Nobel Laureate author.

To say the least, this treasure trove pleased me beyond expectations. It was like a box full of assorted Swiss chocolates—mind you the best in the world okay—out of which I carefully picked one every day. Well aware that it would quickly melt away in my mouth, I would still wish that it would last a bit longer. And even when it was all gone, its aroma and texture would linger on the entire day.

Her stories are about lives of people, nuances of their personality and how destiny and the spur-of-the-moment decisions guide the course of their lives.

In Train, a returning soldier jumps off the back of a passenger train just before it delivers him to a long-anticipated reunion with his fiancée. The ex-soldier then shelters on a farm with a woman and stays on.

In Dolly, a door-to-door seller of cosmetics makes friends with a woman and turns out to be an old fame of the woman’s husband.

Corrie, which follows an extended love affair between a wealthy eccentric and a married architect, builds to a shattering revelation.

In Leaving Waverly, a young policeman forced to look after his sophisticated and ailing wife becomes quiet­ly obsessed with a religious teenager who disappears in a blizzard. However, many years later the policeman who is now a janitor crosses paths with the object of his obsession.

Despite being short stories, each and every one of the 13 beautiful tales in this collection is so deeply enriched with life that it can be regarded as a compressed novel. And Munro’s expertise lies in her capability to spin an engaging tale in a very short length.

In today’s fast paced life when leisurely reading a good novel is a luxury denied to many, those who crave for a good story should definitely get themselves a copy of Dear Life. These short stories—even if for a short while— will definitely transport you to Munro’s world, where you are a complex person with a twisted past and a funny fate which drops coincidences when least expected.

Here are the final words of Alice Munro in Dear Life as the much lauded story teller signs off :

“I did not go home for my mother’s last illness or for her funeral. I had two small children and nobody in Vancouver to leave them with. We could barely have afforded the trip, and my husband had contempt for formal behavior, but why blame it on him? I felt the same. We say of some things that they can’t be forgiven, or that we will never forgive ourselves. But we do-we do it all the time.”

Ritika Rastogi

Have you read any of Alice Munro’s work? If yes which one do you like the most? Write your opinions in the comment box below.

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