Friday, December 3, 2010

Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

I have been struggling to capture the subtleties of this book. Leah Hager Cohen, writing in the New York Times, does a better job than I can. These are typical Munro short stories; they appear simple at first reading, but then hit you like a rocket attack once you get going.

Sometimes these stories aren’t really about what they seem to be about, if you know what I mean. Even when they seem to be about “big” issues (such as domestic violence, for example), their power comes from something else, from something small that happens in the last few seconds, something that you can almost overlook, like the tiny murder that that is going on in the corner of the painting.

Munro has written a lot of books, but I’ve only read a handful. It takes me a long time to get through one of her volumes because I have to read a story, and then rest for a while. Then I can do another one. Reading one of them is like climbing a long hill: the view from the top is spectacular, but it’s a long way up. Then you have to go back down again.

Read more of my blog posts at A Book a Week.

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