I’ll add to this list over the coming weeks as books are one present I look forward to every year at Christmas. I am starting out with this collection of short stories below!
Alice Munro – Dear Life
Canadian author, Alice Munro is one of those rare writers who sticks to the short story and doesn’t bother with novels. Just to read some of her stories, it’s easy to see that she has perfected the craft to such an extent that authors such as Margaret Atwood, who wrote the superb and affecting The Handmaid’s Tale, said of Munro that fellow writers ‘whisper her name in hushed tones’, so revered is she. Munro has been publishing collections of short stories for decades and when she won the Man Booker International Prize in 2009, it was widely seen as long overdue.
Her latest collection, Dear Life, instantly is unique in that it seems to be her most personal work to date featuring autobiographical stories, rare coming from an author who never speaks about herself or grants interviews. Each of these 14 stories are like mini novels in themselves and need to be read slowly and deliberately.
After the first 10 short stories, she inserts a single paragraph on an otherwise blank page, under the heading, Finale: “The final four works in this book are not quite stories. They form a separate unit, one that is autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact. I believe they are the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life.”
Reviews have ranged from ‘life changing’ to ‘spectacular’ which makes this collection firmly at the top of my Christmas wish list.
I would love to hear any more recommendations for good books for over the holidays.