Dear Life: Stories (2012), by the Canadian author Alice Munro, is a collection of tales that describe real life and real people living in the area that the author knows intimately, around Lake Huron. Ms. Munro’s characters are each caught in the act of experiencing an event that changes the course of their ordinary lives. She uses simple language to convey deep truths about the human experience.
In The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani shared these thoughts about the final stories, which are not like the rest in this volume.
“The four final entries make this volume worth reading. These pieces, Ms. Munro writes, ‘are not quite stories.’ They are ‘autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact,’ she writes. ‘I believe they are the first and last — and the closest — things I have to say about my own life.’
The four pieces give snapshots of the narrator’s childhood in a small Canadian town: her socially ambitious mother who develops Parkinson’s disease; her father, presiding over a failing fox farm and given to administering harsh beatings to curb his ‘mouthy child’s imagining that she could rule the roost’; and the narrator herself, struggling to come to terms with her ambivalent feelings about her parents and her sister, and made aware of the precariousness of life with the death (by car accident) of her baby sitter. At once emotionally precise and emotionally layered, these ‘not quite stories’ evoke a girl’s coming of age…they have a flexible, organic shape, opening out to encompass Ms. Munro’s unsentimental thoughts on life and art and storytelling.”