Sunday, September 6, 2020

Book Review: Runaway (short story collection) by Alice Munro

Writing the end of a story can be challenging. Reading Alice Munro's short story collection Runaway is like attending a master class. 

The ends of each of these eight stories fall like heavyweights in this deeply emotional collection. 

Published by McClelland & Stewart
Published in 2004

Alice Munro has carefully chosen the titles to guide the reader--helping us to focus on what is truly important. 

Clara's neighbour Sylvia describes her as 'Naturally happy'. (p. 18) Sylvia tells her friends 'how the girl's presence had come to mean more and more to her, how an indescribable bond had seemed to grow up between them.' (p. 20) So when Clara breaks down in front of Sylvia, she's eager to find a solution. But... 

Runaway is a captivating read right up to and including the alarming ambiguous end. 

On a long train ride a man sits down to talk to Juliet, but he looks boring. Worried that she'll get stuck with him, Juliet makes up some lame excuse and leaves. This is the first time she has acted out of self-interest. Usually, she lets people like him suck her dry. Not this time. But... 

Is Juliet responsible for what happens to the man? 

To comfort herself, Juliet turns to Eric--a man she meets on the train. Juliet falls for Eric but is there a chance he'll return her emotions?

Juliet's mother is dying. So Juliet takes her thirteen-month-old baby home. But...

Juliet isn't married and she wants to get to the bottom of how her father feels about that.

When Juliet's daughter Penelope is twenty-one years old she goes on a six-month retreat. During her time at the retreat, Penelope has no contact with her mother. After the retreat... 

This story draws to this powerful conclusion...
'She keeps on hoping for a word from Penelope... She hopes as people who know better hope for undeserved blessings.' (p. 158)

Grace is more in love with Maury Travers' family than she is with him. Oblivious, Maury makes plans for their future.
On Thanksgiving, before supper, Grace is outside playing with the Travers' children when she cuts her foot. Neil, Maury's brother, is a doctor. He bandages her foot and takes her to the hospital for an anti-tetanus shot. When Maury comes to pick-up Grace at the hospital, Neil sneaks her out a back way. But...

Due to her free-living parents, Lauren knows things most children her age don't. But there are things she doesn't know--who is her mother? What is her birth story? Where can she find the truth? Can she ever?
This is a complex, heavy story.

As a treat, Joanne travels from her small town to attend a Shakespeare play in Stratford, Ontario. During one of these adventures, Joanne meets a man. She envisions a happily-ever-after-ending. But fate loves to play tricks. 

This short story spans the years between the late 1920s and early 1970s. Nancy's friend Tessa has strange powers. Is it Nancy's responsibility to protect her friend from the world?

Runaway reveals Alice Munro's full power over the short story. She bends, twists, and shapes achieving things only a master can. 

Interested to learn more about author Alice Munro, click this link...

80 Things to Know About Master Short Story Writer Alice Munro

Recordings of Author Readings...

Wednesday, September 9, I plan to record Rainbow Ice Cream 
Saturday, September 12, I plan to record What Matters

Next Sunday...

Short Story:  Lessons in Icelandic
What stories would you tell to introduce your culture to others?

If you're looking for me...

I'm over here...

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About my teeth...
You may recall that I had to cancel the recording of my short story Rainbow Ice Cream last Wednesday because I had to see the dentist. Though I thought all he had to do to solve my problem was wave a magic wand... Turns out I require a root channel and a crown. So I've been eating soft food lately. Not the worse thing that could have happened--just some pain if I have to chew. Thank you for your concern.