Alice Munro’s stories – Runaway

People whose opinion I respect have told me for years to read Alice Munro’s stories and I finally bought a collection called ‘Runaway’ recently. I’ve been reading it over the break.

Two things that strike me:

1) The sense I get, in the realist Canadian fiction I have read, of people running around in a landscape that’s too big for them. If this is what it’s like, maybe they should let more people in?

2) Normally people try to pass off short stories as novels. To me this book seems the opposite: a book that is really a novel and has been sold as short stories. I wonder if Munro’s other books are like this also.

As I keep reading, though, it seems I was in the middle of  a ‘three-in-a-row’. The second third and fourth story, I think, were linked ones about the same character at different times, and could perhaps also have been published as a novella. Clearly Munro chose not to present them this way. After that, they revert to separate stories, as far as I can tell.

(Have not yet finished, but the book does seem worth finishing.)

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2 thoughts on “Alice Munro’s stories – Runaway

  1. Haven’t read Runaway. I discovered her early stories later, Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose, The Moons of Jupiter, Lives of Girls and Women. I like those, a lot of them focus on children. The first collection I read, when I first knew she was a writer for me was Open Secrets. Her stories are like novels. And I’m always surprised at how she locates the most interesting interiors of seemingly ordinary, often older characters. She stands beside William Trevor. The collection I love the most is Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.

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  2. Jill, I agree Munro’s stories are novel-like. And yes that would put them in some ways near Trevor’s – though hers are so women-y, aren’t they? So, also unlike his. At times, with ‘Runaway’, I felt I was reading the literary equivalent of a Janis Ian song. [Have never been a Janis Ian fan, though I remember people trying to induct me. Thing is, I was so uninterested in male / female inequity growing up, so convinced it would never affect me, unless I let it. So I used to avoid things that went on about the female condition in some way.] As for Munro’s stories, I finished them because I couldn’t not, but was quite relieved when I’d done so, in some ways. Hope that doesn’t sound negative – if I had not liked them, I’d have stopped reading… Will probably will try something else of hers, too, so cheers for suggesting ‘Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage’ — that title should be easy to remember….

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