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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 ...

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 Alice Munro 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, just as a story can be entered by way of its separate sections or paragraphs or even its individual sentences or words ...

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 Alice Munro. 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 virtues the many things about her writing that might be considered shortcomings ...

Things happen all the time

James Wood, 8 May 1997

Selected Stories 
by Alice Munro.
Chatto, 412 pp., £16.99, November 1996, 0 7011 6521 9
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... it through them. In this category are Tolstoy, Chekhov; and in our age the late V.S. Pritchett and Alice Munro. Alice Munro 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 Pritchett’s ...

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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... Alice Munro 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 here in her new collection, The View from Castle Rock, she speaks to us directly, first in a brief introduction explaining the way the book has been put together, and then in a piece, ‘No Advantages’, in which she describes in her own person the researches into her family history that have resulted in some of the stories that follow ...

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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... of rural sameness. At one intersection is the tiny town of Wingham (population c.2952), where Alice Munro 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. ...

Good Girls and Bad Girls

Anita Brookner, 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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... without, in fact, displaying the rather tired characteristics of womanliness, is provided by Alice Munro in The Moons of Jupiter. In this excellent collection of stories, Alice Munro is treading on the heels of her compatriot, Margaret Atwood. Events are less powerful in ...

What women think about men

D.A.N. Jones, 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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... particularly interesting to men who want to know what women think of them and know about them. Alice Munro 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 collection) is called ‘Lichen’ – a fungoid ...

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,’ Alice Munro 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; and in fact the book describes not so much love as the subtle changes in loyalty and disposition of which sexual love is only one (and not the most important) example ...

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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... Yates’s reissued Revolutionary Road, a whole novel about a married couple arguing. What about Alice Munro? 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 my novel I thought of them: I wanted to woo them and ...

Eric Hobsbawm

Karl Miller, 25 October 2012

... vein), I spoke eagerly to him of my new admiration for the stories of our Canadian contemporary Alice Munro – 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 surprise involved another female writer. When he was ...

Short Cuts

Yun Sheng: ‘Finnegans Wake’ in China, 3 April 2014

... have to prime the fiction lists for books like these. Other star performers are the stories of Alice Munro 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, wealth and longevity: these are the three cardinal ...

About the Monicas

Tessa Hadley: Anne Tyler, 18 March 2004

The Amateur Marriage 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 306 pp., £16.99, January 2004, 0 7011 7734 9
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... At the beginning of her short story ‘Jakarta’, Alice Munro describes two young women who choose a spot on a beach because it’s sheltered and because ‘they want to be out of sight of a group of women who use the beach every day. They call these women the Monicas.’ The Monicas have two or three or four children apiece; they build a temporary domestic encampment on the beach (‘diaper bags, picnic hampers, inflatable rafts and whales, toys, lotions’); and their conversation revolves around the cheapest place to buy meat, the uses of zinc ointment, soda’s superiority to baking powder ...

Come back if you can

Christopher Tayler: Jhumpa Lahiri, 24 October 2013

The Lowland 
by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Bloomsbury, 340 pp., £16.99, September 2013, 978 1 4088 2811 3
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... way Lahiri has written herself into a craftsmanlike tradition running back from William Trevor and Alice Munro, via Hemingway, Katherine Mansfield and Dubliners, to the Russians translated by Constance Garnett. She has been admired since the beginning of her career for her restraint and the air of naturalness she gives her effects. It isn’t hard to ...

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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... without motive, an intruder that disrupts domestic tranquillity or workplace banality; leave it to Alice Munro, 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. Something of the sort happens in ‘Escape from ...

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