My Best Stories

Paperback | October 6, 2009

byAlice MunroForeword byMargaret Atwood

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My Best Stories   is a dazzling selection of stories—seventeen favourites chosen by the author from across her distinguished career. The stories are arranged in the order in which they were written, allowing even the most devoted Munro admirer to discover how her work developed. "Royal Beatings" shows us right away how far we are from the romantic world of happy endings. "The Albanian Virgin" smashes the idea that all of her stories are set in B.C. or in Ontario's "Alice Munro Country." "A Wilderness Station" breaks short story rules by transporting us back to the 1830s and then jumping forward more than a hundred years. And the final story, "The Bear Came Over the Mountain," which was adapted into the film Away from Her, leads us far beyond the turkey-plucking world of young girls into unflinching old age.

Every story in this selection is superb. It is a book to read—and reread—very slowly, savouring each separate story. This collection of small masterpieces deserves a place in every book lover's home.

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 My Best Stories   is a dazzling selection of stories—seventeen favourites chosen by the author from across her distinguished career. The stories are arranged in the order in which they were written, allowing even the most devoted Munro admirer to discover how her work developed. "Royal Beatings" shows us right away how far we are...

Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has published sixteen books — Dance of the Happy Shades; Lives of Girls and Women, Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You; Who Do You Think You Are?; The Moons of Jupiter; The Progress of Love; Friend of My Youth; Open Secrets; Selected Storie...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:536 pages, 8.24 × 5.3 × 1.39 inPublished:October 6, 2009Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143170392

ISBN - 13:9780143170396

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prosaic Perfection! If I were given only two words to describe Alice Munro achievement “prosaic perfection” would have to be it. I admit it was thoroughly snobbish of me. It took my own citizenship, an eminent literature professor’s laudatory (and hortatory) analysis, and – as though these were not enough – a Nobel Prize to get to know and instantly become besotted with Alice Munro’s literary genius. Yes. Once I looked, it was love at first sight. “My Best Stories” is a mixed bag, but it is a potent mix. It commences with “Royal Beatings” of a “nine, ten, eleven, twelve” year-old Rosie. These all-too-common fatherly affections left such a bloody imprint on her psyche that even a master like Munro could not contain here to a single story. The “Stories” continue pausing in “Miles City, Montana” (perhaps the most philosophical pit stop in the collection) where a child’s near-death experience forces a mother existential what-if blame game. “Differently” is another story with a philosophical bend, but exploring alternate modus vivendi, one in which we, or rather the people we truly care about, were actually mortal it aspires to applied rather than speculative philosophy. “Wilderness Station” is a Cain and Able story with a twist and an axe that cuts deep into the future while “Vandals” is a subtle but dark and thoroughly disturbing sexual abuse story. The penultimate story in the collection, “Runaway”, is pure literary perfection. Yes, the prof that introduced me to Munro did so with this story; but, having finally read it, I must admit that do not think that reading a 400-page novel could engender as much emotional kerfuffle as Munro did in these mere 35 pages. The final story, “The Bear that came over the Mountain”, is unusual on two accounts. First, although it is (for the most part) about a woman it is told from a man’s perspective. And second, it is a quirky love story that depicts a woman who paradoxically finds her love only after having lost everything else; including her very self. These, it must be stated, are just my notable mentions each of which easily pays the price of admission to the entire collection. But note that, masterful plots and tabloid-worthy-life- shattering events are the least reasons you invest yourself in them. The Devil is in the Details: One of the first thing that strikes a reader about Munro’s stories is her fastidious attention to detail. “The smell of cedar bush”, a surreptitious look, “a squashed leaf” or “a Popsicle stick” matter to her because she knows that despite our ostensible fascination with tawdry extremism it is precisely these minute and seemingly insignificant details that weave any semblance of meaning in our otherwise meaningless lives. Free Will 2.0: Reflecting back I see that the invocations of Spinoza in the “Royal Beatings” which opens this collection might not have been wholly adventitious. The self-making, progressive, and free willing individuals we see – or rather, are taught to see – ourselves as are the very pillars of a society where jurisprudence, morality, and progress are possible. But Munro courts the Spinoza-like notion that the forces which drive our actions are, essentially, alien to us; that self-help is self-delusion, and that free will is nothing more than the past inexorably willing itself on to the present. It is this burden of history that drives the “royally” abused Rosie to her future sadomasochistic tendencies in “The Beggar Maid”; that engenders “a tongue-tied” grandchildren to a murderous grandfather in the “Wilderness Station”, and that explains a seemingly inexplicable rampage of saintly born-again Christians in “Vandals”. As Georgia, a character in “Differently”, succinctly puts it: “People make momentous shifts, but not the changes they imagine”. Indeed, “shift” are not “changes” but realizing this – as Spinoza urges us to –, understanding our limitations and discovering the forces that surreptitiously force themselves on us maybe the only freedom we actually have. To put it another way, as the aforementioned stories suggest, while we may be products we are also producers – and herein ethics lie. The Rosetta stone to a Woman’s Soul: Each story in the collection is its own, self-enclosed, moral arena. We may crave clarity, resolve, and moral rectitude but, like in the world around us, there are not saints nor martyrs in Munro’s universes. As their (re)creator she, like each of her characters, is profoundly moral but never moralizing. There is only one sacrosanct commandment that guides her Promethean project and that is to pour the essence a woman’s soul on the page and allow the reader to delight in it. It is, and I am not being hyperbolic, a well-neigh tactile experience and one would be a fool not to.
Date published: 2015-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Short stories for everyone Amazing author! The way she describe the story make you feel so real, just like this happen right beside you. very highly recommended !
Date published: 2013-11-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If you enjoy short stories, this is for you! This was the first time I had ever read Alice Monroe's work, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The stories were at times difficult to follow, but each one was a rewarding and unique read. I look forward to reading more of this author's work in the future!
Date published: 2010-07-09