Someone once said that there is no such book that it wouldn’t improve from being half as long. I disagree, because I have read many such books. This one is a prime example, because 1) It’s a collection of short stories, and the stories are by definition short. and 2) There wouldn’t be much of a story left if cropped any more.
#2 is one of the traits I love most about this book. Because Munro’s writing is the opposite of in-your-face-ness. There is no over-explaining or unnecessary descriptions, but short and powerful statements that have just enough information to make the stories come to life in my mind (and I hope the mind of any reader). Still, it’s not hard reading, like a physics textbook, that require energy and focus to be understood. I mean, they do require focus but it’s not difficult to find it.
Dear Life sounded like a brilliant title long before I read the book (it’s one of those that are received as a gift, and then left to collect dust until I’m out of more exciting things to read) and even more so after I read it. Because it’s about “ordinary” life, in all its glory. Or lack thereof.
There is a sort of calm. Even though the plot often revolves around tragedy (mostly on a smaller scale), I didn’t shed any tears. I certainly felt it, but not in a way that made me want to go out and change the world. A quiet sad.