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February 3, 2020


#Classic Alice Munro Nobel Prize 2013

by N@ncy

  • Author: Alice Munro
  • Title:  Runaway (8 stories, 352 pg)
  • Genre: short stories
  • Published: 2004
  • Trivia:  2013 winner Nobel Prize  (first female since 1901)
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan



  1. Good news: Munro develops the characters and
  2. creates the mood with a sense of place: small town Canada.
  3. Bad news: These are NOT short  short stories!
  4. Ms Munro writes short stories exclusively.
  5. Just because these stories are less than novel-length
  6. …does not mean they are simpler.
  7. IMO Ms Munro is a skillful writer, winner of Nobel Prize 2013
  8. …but I did not experience the reading pleasure I hoped for.
  9. Her stories are not intensely compressed and
  10. seem…to be endless.  I lose interest very quickly.
  11. I don’t think I will attempt another Munro collection soon, sorry.
  12. I hightly recommend Amy Witting
  13. ….for some TOP short stories.
  14. She is an Australian writer who you probably never heard of!


What trends did I find in the stories?

  1. Protagonists are all women.
  2. Story is  usually about 4 main characters.
  3. Ms Munro likes to start a story
  4. ….then jump 40 years to the past revealing memories. (Tricks, Passion)
  5. 3 stories form a ‘novella’ (Chance, Soon, Silence) with a 40 yr timeline
  6. The story Powers moves from beginning to end covering 40 years.
  7. 7/8: stories a character dies.
  8. 2/8: stories are coming of age stories (Passion, Tricks)
  9. 6/8: are about marriage
  10. …ties that bind, yet sometimes the ties can chafe – and strangle
  11. 8/8: stories …at the end Munro’s women characters are left alone.
  12. You can feel loneliness even in a marriage!



  2. Ms Munro retains a feeling of complexity and mystery about
  3. The marriage of Carla and her husband.
  4. The greatest reading pleasure is leaving it up
  5. To the reader to decide what is going to happen.
  6. Themes:  freedom
  7. Carla runs away from the marriage
  8. …at the end Carla runs away from the truth!
  9. When will Carla get her revenge?
  10. Ending suggests she will contain her rage….for now.
  11. This was the kick-off story
  12. …the literary ‘amuse’ before
  13. the main course!


Chance – Soon – Silence

  1. Strong point
  2. Munro really knows how to describe
  3. a character, physiology and attire.
  4. She describes people with all their quirks.
  5. Themes:  freedom, faith, elderly parents, distant daughter, where is your HOME?
  6. Strong point: Very powerful ending….a moving stories.
  7. Writing skill: snapshot of  a love affair, family life, parent’s marriage (Soon)
  8. …looking back at the pain (loss of contact with daughter Silence)
  9. …and the pleasure of remembering. (Chance)
  10. I would consider these 3 stories a beautiful novella!
  11. CHANCE – beginning of affair with Eric. BEGINNING
  12. SOON – 13 months later visits mother….she is dying ENDING
  13. SILENCE – daughter cuts off all communication….ISOLATION



  1. Coming of age….flashback
  2. What was Grace really looking for?
  3. Memories of her first feeling of passion….that summer?
  4. 20% dialogue that reveals very little about the people in the story.
  5. 80% POV 3rd person backstory about the characters.
  6. Strong point again….POWERFUL ending.
  7. That is Ms Munro’s trademark.
  8. She knows the last few lines will linger in the reader’s mind
  9. Writing technique: Flashback….40 years ago



  1. 70% dialogue
  2. 30% POV 3rd person
  3. Themes: Children, adoption, misunderstandings, loneliness
  4. Writing technique: frame story
  5. Ms Munro begins at the end and moves into a flashback.
  6. This way she tells how the characters came to be where they are.
  7. The story being drawn out by an eager listener, the teen-age daughter Lauren
  8. demanding the her story from her parents…am I adopted?
  9. Title: says it all….Trespasses = sins



  1. 15% dialogue
  2. 85% POV 3rd person
  3. ….very touching story
  4. starts in the past….then jumps 40 years.
  5. Star-crossed lovers
  6. Robin and Daniel who meet
  7. …for a brief intense moment
  8. …like ships pass in the night.
  9. #Pathos



  1. The last story in the collection is a curious mix of
  2. diary and third-person narration.
  3. with the focus on Nancy,
  4. …an impertinent, egocentric woman
  5. who never seems to understand what is occurring.  (OOPS!)
  6. 2 married couples
  7. whose lives intertwine….but in a sad way.
  8. This was the LONGEST  story
  9. ….and  IMO not very good.
  10. It does not adhere to the basics of a short story.



Read more from Classic, short story
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Feb 3 2020

    I love Munro’s writing, but haven’t read this particular collection as yet.


    • Feb 3 2020

      Perhaps I was too quick to decide not reading Munro again.
      I will have to find another collection to see if my initial impression was just
      a snapshot….or a real trend.

      Liked by 1 person


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