stories in this brilliant collection show Alice Munro coming home
to southwestern Ontario, with Toronto looming on the horizon. Even
"To Reach Japan," where a Vancouver mother takes her young daughter
across the country by train, ends in Toronto. On that journey,
different kinds of passion produce surprises, both on the journey
and at its end.
The range of
storytellers is astonishing, as we hear the young voices of women
recalling their teenage years and the equally convincing voice of
an old woman fighting Alzheimer's. Margaret Atwood once shrewdly
noted that "pushing the sexual boundaries is distinctly thrilling
for many a Munro woman," and very few of these stories deal with
men and women in sedate, conventional domestic settings.
Munro admirers will see that
these stories are shorter than many in her recent collections, but
they have all the sharpness, accessibility, and power of her
earlier work, and they are-as always-full of "real" people. The
final four works ("not quite stories") bring the author home,
literally. She writes: "I believe they are the first and last-and
the closest-things I have to say about my own life."