Alice Munro

All posts tagged Alice Munro

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The Moons Of Jupiter by Alice Munro from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Published November 9, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s The Moons Of Jupiter all about?:

The Moons Of Jupiter follows our protagonist Janet as she visits her father in hospital and comes to terms with the probability of losing him.

What did I think?:

I’m fairly familiar with Alice Munro’s work having read and enjoyed her short story collection, Too Much Happiness a few years ago. However, I often find that a book of short stories by one author has peaks and troughs and there always seem to be some stories that you favour whilst others seem to lack that extra something. It’s perfectly obvious (even to the non-analytical short story reader like myself) that Alice Munro is a talented author and a master of her craft and The Moons Of Jupiter is quite a clever little tale with multiple hidden meanings all revolving around the importance of family and how we re-analyse our own close relationships during times of crisis.

In this short story, our narrator is Janet and she is visiting her father in Toronto General Hospital after he has been told he has a very serious heart condition. The surgeons are willing to operate but make it quite clear to them both that his life expectancy is very much reduced. As well as (or maybe because of) all of this, Janet begins to look deeper into the relationships with her own children, Nichola and Judith which haven’t been plain sailing for one reason or another. After a trip to the planetarium and a heart-to-heart with her father before his operation, Janet begins to put things into perspective and feel grateful for the small moments in life and the love she has for her family.

If you haven’t read any Alice Munro before and you’re looking for something that is quite fast-paced beware, this probably isn’t for you. However, if you enjoy the intricacy of family relationships then this is an enjoyable little read. Personally, I have mixed feelings. I love the sentiment expressed in the story and the writing is obviously that of an author at the top of her game but….(and this is probably going to come out all wrong!), I appreciate a short story that I can get my teeth into, that plays on my mind and I have to think about, and with The Moons Of Jupiter it felt like I had to think too hard to discover what the author was trying to say. I fully admit that after finishing I had to google the story just to make sure I had got the right end of the stick and I had, thank goodness but for a little while, I felt a little bit stupid. I don’t tend to like stories where I have to analyse too much and with this one, it almost felt a little too clever for me and I hate feeling that way! On reflection though, when I had confirmed what the story was trying to say, it did make me look at it in a more positive light and I appreciated all the nuances the author used.

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.


Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Five

Published November 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

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Hello everyone and welcome to the fifth part of my Short Stories Challenge in 2017. My fourth part was quite like the third, up and down. I had a huge disappointment with a short story by Daphne du Maurier which was Monte Verità but I also got some lovely surprises in the form of The House On The Hill by Kate Mosse and The Man In The Ditch by Lisa Tuttle. Here’s what I’ll be reading in the next few months:

Best New Horror by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

The Moons Of Jupiter by Alice Munro from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Unplugged by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Wisht by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

The Man From Mars by Margaret Atwood from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives Of Women.

Seeing Double by Sara Maitland from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Beryl Coronet by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

Freaks: A Rizzoli & Isles Short Story by Tess Gerritsen (stand-alone).

High House by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.

Too Much Happiness – Alice Munroe

Published September 14, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

Ten superb new stories by one of our most beloved and admired writers—the winner of the 2009 Man Booker International Prize.

With clarity and ease, Alice Munro once again renders complex, difficult events and emotions into stories about the unpredictable ways in which men and women accommodate and often transcend what happens in their lives.

In the first story a young wife and mother, suffering from the unbearable pain of losing her three children, gains solace from a most surprising source. In another, a young woman, in the aftermath of an unusual and humiliating seduction, reacts in a clever if less-than-admirable fashion. Other tales uncover the “deep-holes” in a marriage, the unsuspected cruelty of children, and, in the long title story, the yearnings of a nineteenth-century female mathematician.

What did I think?:

I have heard the name Alice Munro around a lot, but it wasn’t until she won the Man Booker International Prize in 2009 and the Nobel Prize for Literature that I really became interested in trying some of her work. I didn’t make this collection part of my Short Stories Challenge as once I started the book I just wanted to read the entire thing at once as the beauty of her writing spoke for itself. There are ten stories in this collection and each one features one or more of the characters (usually a woman) dealing with an unusual amount of emotion in their life, for one reason or another. I’m not going to go through each of the stories, this post would turn into an essay! Instead, I’m just going to focus on a couple of my favourites.

The first story, Dimensions was definitely my favourite of the bunch. It introduces us to a female main character Doree who we become curious about right from the start. She has changed her name, regularly sees a psychiatrist and visits her husband Lloyd in prison which she finds an incredibly daunting prospect. It turns out that her relationship with Lloyd through the years they have been married has been slightly traumatic. Lloyd peeled away every inch of her self-esteem and hurled emotional abuse at her at any given opportunity. Why is he in prison and what is the big secret the author keeps from us until the last moment? I can’t say, but it was dark, dramatic and beautifully executed.

Free Radicals was also a knee-trembler of a story. A recently widowed woman is relaxing in her house when a madman manages to get in and announces that he has just killed his parents and his disabled sister. There is the danger that she may be next but our main character remains stoic and remarkably calm considering the circumstances. By the end of the story, she imparts a secret of her own…

Another favourite of mine was Child’s Play, where an old woman (Marlene) looks back on her childhood, one memory in particular still disturbs her. It regards a girl that used to live in the same house as her called Verna who continually tried to be-friend her, at some points becoming quite desperate, however Verna was slightly deficient mentally and filled Marlene with feelings of disgust:

“I suppose I hated her as some people hate snakes or caterpillars or mice or slugs. For no decent reason. Not for any certain harm she could do but for the way she could disturb your innards and make you sick of your life.”

She attends summer camp with one of her best friends and is dismayed to discover that Verna is there also. Then things turn a little bit darker with a gripping finale that will have your eyes practically glued to the pages to find out what happens. Well,  that’s what happened to mine anyway.

It is obvious that Alice Munro is a true master of the short story, she is precise, deadly accurate and the timing of the “huge events” in these few stories is executed with perfection. Yes, there were a few stories that I didn’t really get on with (Wood, Too Much Happiness, Fiction) hence the three star rating but I cannot deny that while I didn’t enjoy these tales as much, I really appreciated her writing style and her obvious ease with words. I will definitely be checking out some of her other work.

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art