Dear Life by Alice Munro
Stories

87%

49 Critic Reviews

Alice Munro creates tales that have the scope and amplitude of novels.
-NY Times

Synopsis

WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE© IN LITERATURE 2013

New York Times Notable Book
Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction
A Best Book of the Year: The Atlantic, NPR, San Francisco ChronicleVogue, AV Club

In story after story in this brilliant new collection, Alice Munro pinpoints the moment a person is forever altered by a chance encounter, an action not taken, or a simple twist of fate. Her characters are flawed and fully human: a soldier returning from war and avoiding his fiancée, a wealthy woman deciding whether to confront a blackmailer, an adulterous mother and her neglected children, a guilt-ridden father, a young teacher jilted by her employer. Illumined by Munro’s unflinching insight, these lives draw us in with their quiet depth and surprise us with unexpected turns. And while most are set in her signature territory around Lake Huron, some strike even closer to home: an astonishing suite of four autobiographical tales offers an unprecedented glimpse into Munro’s own childhood. Exalted by her clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, Dear Life shows how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be.
 

About Alice Munro

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Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has published twelve collections of stories and two volumes of selected stories, as well as a novel. During her distinguished career she has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including three of Canada's Governor General's Literary Awards and two of its Giller Prizes, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Lannan Literary Award, England's W. H. Smith Literary Award, the United States' National Book Critics Circle Award, the Edward MacDowell Medal in literature, and the Man Booker International Prize. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, Granta, and other publications, and her collections have been translated into thirteen languages. Alice Munro lives in Clinton, Ontario, near Lake Huron.
 
Published November 13, 2012 by Vintage. 338 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Other, Action & Adventure. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 27 2013
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Critic reviews for Dear Life
All: 49 | Positive: 44 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Oct 15 2012

It’s no surprise that every story in the latest collection by Canada’s Munro . . . is rewarding and that the best are stunning.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Dec 10 2012

Alice Munro creates tales that have the scope and amplitude of novels.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Charles McGrath on Nov 16 2012

That Alice Munro...is one of the great short story writers not just of our time but of any time ought to go without saying by now. This new volume...is further proof of her mastery

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Kate Kellaway on Dec 28 2013

...her short stories have a subtle, unshowy, covert brilliance. This 2012 collection, reissued in celebration, ends with autobiographical pieces...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Louise Doughty on Nov 24 2012

These are not stories that can be read quickly...Each needs to settle in the mind because Munro has an uncanny knack of convincing the reader that the characters have real lives before the stories commence and continuing existences after.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by ANNE ENRIGHT on Nov 08 2012

...though I count myself as one of the people most interested in this writer on planet Earth, I find, to my surprise that they do not hold me in the same way – it is Munro's stories that I want; not her, after all.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Sep 24 2012

Not only has Munro made changes, but more importantly, read together, the stories accrete, deepen, and speak to each other.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Writergirl2009 on Nov 26 2013

As a fellow reader, I say this to all of you: if you have never read Alice Munro’s work, please pick up Dear Life. You will come to appreciate what a fine writer she truly is. I can honestly say that I have added her to my list of favorite authors and will be reading more of her collections.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Nov 19 2012

The ride, the jump, the surmise, it's that feeling of holding on for dear life and then letting go that these sometimes oddly constructed but always powerful stories reward us with.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Nov 15 2012

The ride, the jump, the surmise; it's that feeling of holding on for dear life and then letting go that these stories reward us with.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Alexis Burling on Nov 16 2012

What can be said about Alice Munro’s luminous writing that hasn’t already been said? What unused plump adjectives might be bandied about to describe her way with words?

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Washington Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Claire Hopley on Nov 25 2012

This new volume, with its historical slant, its autobiographical material, its impressionistic descriptions of scenery, its occasional nostalgia and pleasing irony, confirms her reputation.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg on Nov 10 2012

It's with gratitude . . . that we can acknowledge with this one that her considerable gifts remain undiminished.

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Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by Francine Prose on Oct 12 2012

Alice Munro’s new collection, Dear Life, proves yet again that she is a very great writer indeed.

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Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by Jennifer Hunter on Oct 12 2012

Munro’s gift is her ability to get inside a character’s very being. She makes us laugh, understand our human flaws, and feel nostalgic. She allows readers to share in her dear, Dear Life.

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Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by Jennifer Hunter on Oct 12 2012

Munro’s gift is her ability to get inside a character’s very being.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Carrie Snyder on Oct 19 2012

To open an Alice Munro collection is to anticipate what awaits. If you love Munro’s work — and I do — you already know and crave what you’ll find in Dear Life: an atmosphere that she alone can create, that is too complex and layered to be easily distilled...

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Charles McNulty on Nov 09 2012

"Dear Life" has something of a valedictory quality to it, but the consciousness behind these stories has a vitality.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Thom Geier on Nov 02 2012

Most haunting of all are the four autobiographical sketches that end the book, which display Munro's gift of observation and ability to trace big emotional arcs in short brushstrokes.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Ruth Scurr on Nov 21 2012

In this book, Munro has laid bare the foundations of her fiction as never before. Lovers of her writing must hope this is not, in fact, her finale. But if it is, it’s spectacular.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Catherine Taylor on Nov 15 2012

Munro’s new collection is both valedictory and cautiously celebratory.

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USA Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Claudia Puig on Nov 13 2012

Her prose is spare, graceful and beautifully crafted, her vision expansive...She presents toiling, troubled characters who bubble up and engulf our imagination, leaving the reader to ponder, fascinated, the contours of dear life.

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The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by Jane Ciabattari on Nov 17 2012

“Dear Life’’ is a wondrous gift; a reminder of why Munro’s work endures.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Amanda Holmes Duffy on Jan 22 2013

As you read you long for desire to win out in the end. When you finish reading these stories, you find yourself reeling, hanging on, as it were, for dear life.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Polly Rosenwaike on Nov 26 2012

To read her wonderfully frank and compassionate stories is to feel that we are understood, whatever town we come from, whatever dreams or nightmares may disturb our sleep.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Upchurch on Dec 02 2012

Nine ingeniously crafted tales and four intricately parsed memories, where Munro seems to be taking her leave of us.

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Express

Excellent
Reviewed by Vanessa Berridge on Nov 23 2012

CANADA has produced some remarkable women writers, Margaret Atwood and Carol Shields to name but two. Alice Munro, 81, and winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2009, is a third.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Below average
Reviewed by Bob Hoover on Dec 16 2012

Coincidences that feel more like plot gimmicks than organic ones.

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Oregon Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Glenn Altschuler on Nov 24 2012

Munro manages, somehow, to be tough-minded without being judgmental.

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Newsday

Excellent
Reviewed by Tom Beer on Dec 21 2012

Unshowy but pitch-perfect prose.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Ron Hansen on Nov 19 2012

The stories of “Dear Life” violate a host of creative writing rules, but they establish yet again Munro’s psychological acuity, clear-eyed acceptance of frailties and mastery of the short story form.

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Chicago Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Robbins on Nov 16 2012

The stories being told here are as compelling as ever, even with their repetitions, and the suite of four pieces gathered under the title "Finale" marks a departure for Munro...

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The Miami Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Betsy Willeford on Nov 30 2012

Alice Munro’s tales about ordinary people and their domestic trials are gems.

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The New Republic

Excellent
Reviewed by Chloe Schama on Nov 14 2012

But it can also read as a description of her sensibility: life is dear, live every day with a dose of awe and a sense of the story.

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The New Republic

Good
Reviewed by Chloe Schama on Nov 14 2012

Munro offers something striking in Dear Life: a distinct turn to autobiography and a revealing window into the workings of her mind.

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Journal Sentinel

Excellent
Reviewed by Mike Fischer on Nov 16 2012

Life is indeed dear and therefore not to be wasted - reason enough to spend one's days reading and rereading Munro's magnificent stories.

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Oprah.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Pamela Newton on Sep 01 2012

A moving fictional portrait of marriage's end, a novel of Cold War intrigue...and more!

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The New York Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Cathleen Schine on Jan 10 2013

There is no “invariably” in an Alice Munro story.

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Time Out New York

Below average
Reviewed by Manoli Kouremetis on Nov 28 2012

Some of Munro’s settings are alienating, as with the cocktail party the protagonist attends in opening story.

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Irish Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne on Dec 01 2012

It was wonderfully generous of Munro to provide us with this snippet of autobiography.

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Time Out Chicago

Below average
Reviewed by Katie Vagnino on Dec 13 2012

Munro slips some surprising autobiographical vignettes into an otherwise predictable story collection.

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IBN Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Vivek Tejuja on Nov 05 2012

Alice Munro is a storyteller par genius.

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Metro

Below average
Reviewed by Metro on Nov 14 2012

Dear Life feels like an unusually personal collection from the Canadian octogenarian.

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The Big Issue

Excellent
Reviewed by Doug Johnstone on Dec 05 2012

High praise is backed up by her latest extraordinary collection, Dear Life.

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Civilian

Excellent
Reviewed by Neil Stewart on Dec 16 2012

The title Dear Life is pure Munro: economical, alert to ambiguity, with the reassuring familiarity of the cliché concealing a bite that becomes evident only as you pause to consider the preciousness and costliness implicit in the phrase.

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Real Simple

Excellent
Reviewed by Anne Glenn on Oct 01 2012

Some of the stories resonated so deeply with me that I felt as if I had experienced the events in them myself.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Carrie Snyder on Oct 19 2012

How does Munro do what she does so brilliantly? Like other Canadian writers of my generation, I’ve studied and parsed Munro’s craft down to her very grammar: Even at the sentence level, she constructs fascinating conflict and unexpected oppositions.

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Quill & Quire

Good
Reviewed by James Grainger on Oct 01 2012

The story comes to a harrowing conclusion that feels inevitable and cathartic. An unquiet order is restored.

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Wales Arts Review

Good
Reviewed by Jon Gower on Nov 01 2012

She breathes quietly, attentive to the rhythms of the ephemeral, pretty much knitting her tales together; surely, safely and always entirely persuasively.

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Reader Rating for Dear Life
71%

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