Amanda Reads: Dear Life

Hello hello, friends. Maybe you thought I’d given up on the Book Riot Read Harder challenge after my sheer disappointment with The Other Side of Paradise. But no, no… in spite of the busy insanity that is my crazy beautiful life (have I mentioned I have three jobs? Because yeah, I do), I’ve finally worked my way through the second item on the challenge: a book that was written by an author who was over 65 at the time. My choice? Award winning Canadian author Alice Munro, of course.

I had only read one of Alice Munro’s short stories previous to embarking on my e-journey through Dear Life. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I found.

During my review of B.J. Novak’s One More Thing, I mentioned that I haven’t really read many short story collections. Because Dear Life was only my second, I still haven’t quite gotten down how the whole thing is supposed to work–if, in fact, there is a formula to it at all. However, the stories in Munro’s collection seemed united by their focus on the quiet, private lives of individual people. I realized as I read that I haven’t read much fiction set in Canada, and the subtle ways in which the Candian-nes reveled itself were interesting to note–the names of cities, the subtle differences in speech.

I like slice of life stories that focus on the quiet realities of real people’s lives and the occasionally shocking things that seemingly ordinary people can do. While some of the stories were not my cup of tea, others spoke to me. I particularly liked the last three stories in the book, which are actually nonfiction stories that tell us about Munro’s childhood. As a nonfiction editor, I couldn’t help but enjoy looking at the ways in which these short, autobiographical notes differed from the rest of the book. Somehow, in spite of the differences, the pieces fit right into a book that aptly fits its title of Dear Life. I thoroughly enjoyed the collection, even if it did take me a while to get through it–blame my schedule, not Munro’s writing. I highly, highly recommend this collection both to long-time readers of short story collections and newbies like myself.

Next up in the Read Harder challenge: a collection of short stories. Yes, I know I just read one, but I’m trying not to double dip. Stay tuned, readers!

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