Carried Away: A Selection of Stories (Everyman’s Library)
This was my first introduction to Alice Munro’s writing and I could not have chosen a more comprehensive picture of the art of her short story writing. Her stories span a variety of topics and can be read in one sitting, or sporadically; different stories for different days. Munro’s empathy for her characters can be felt consistently with each story in this compilation. For example in the opening story “Royal Beatings”, which is one of my favorites from this book, the main character Rose explains the cyclical nature of a very specific aspect of her family dynamic. When Rose gets in trouble for insolence she says “[she] must play her part in this with the same grossness, the same exaggeration, that her father displays playing his” at which point she stumbles up to her room with a stubborn silence until she guiltily concedes to her stepmother’s peace offering of snacks and apologies. Not only does it show how Rose understands it as an act, it implies repetition. Other favorites of mine include “Friend of My Youth” and “The Albanian Virgin”. Munro’s writing allows the reader to connect with the logic and emotions of her main protagonists in each story. Carried Away is prefaced by an introduction by Margaret Atwood who gives a succinct but glowing analysis of Munro’s writing. Her short stories are memorable and this is a book that I can see myself revisiting again and again.
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