Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You

Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You, Alice Munro
Short stories
Rating: 3.0/5.0

Alice Munro is one of my favourite authors. When it comes to short stories, she's tough to beat. That said, she is maybe something of an acquired taste. The first couple of times I tried to read her collections, I just couldn't get into them and didn't see what the big fuss was about her. One year, I was gifted a copy of Runaway for Christmas and something clicked. I have loved her since.

This collection, unfortunately, reminded me of my first few attempts at her work. It was hard to get into. It's one of her older ones, published in the '70s, which may be part of the reason. The style is not quite the same as her more recent work. I often found myself wondering what was going on, particularly with the first several stories.

As the title would suggest, all of the stories in the collection deal with the consequences of things left unsaid, things that were misspoken, or misunderstood. I did like "How I Met My Husband," "Forgiveness in Families," and I especially liked "The Spanish Lady," which is about a woman trying to come to terms with the break up of her marriage after her husband's infidelity. The way that story is told is what I was originally expecting from the collection and is the Munro that I love. She has a way of capturing female emotions and experiences that is so spot on, it's gutwrenching sometimes.

There were a couple of passages that I couldn't help laugh at. Munro was always a good observer of human nature. Consider that these were written long before social media or reality TV ever existed: 

From "Walking on Water":
...what he objected to in this generation , if that was what it was, was that they could not do a thing without showing off. Why all this yawping about everything, he asked. They could not grow a carrot without congratulating themselves on it.

From "Marrakesh":
Dorothy had seen pictures in magazines of this new type of adult who appeared to have discarded adulthood. Jeanette was the first one she had seen close up and in the flesh. It used to be that young boys and girls would try to look like grown men and women, often with ridiculous results. Now there were grown men and women who would try to look like teen-agers until, presumably, they woke up on the brink of old age.

Overall, not a bad collection but not Munro's best either. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! I've never read anything by Munro, but my MIL gave me "Dear Life" - I believe her most recent collection of short stories. It'll be my next book.