Review: Runaway

3 08 2007

I finished Alice Munro’s Runaway. As I said a couple of times before, it was not my favourite Munro collection.  There were some stand-out passages and “Soon” (as I blogged about before) is my favourite in the collection.  I did find that some of the twists a bit harder to accept in terms of the feasibility of them and Munro herself draws attention to this in the story “Tricks” and even though that awareness or consciousness about the outrageousness about that particular twist, it did somehow lessen the story for me.

I’m always interested in the way one thing you are reading informs another. I noticed this more while still in school, but I’ve had that experience while reading Runaway and Kalooki Nights. In my previous post I talked about not getting as much from the text as I should because I lacked background. I think my main problem with Runaway runs along similar lines. With Munro’s early stories – the ones that I still love best- there is a sense of nostalgia as the writer looks back on different moments from her childhood or adolescence. The narrator in that case has always seemed to me at least to be in her late twenties or early thirties. There is also a sense of going back in Runaway but now to a different age – the age of marriage and motherhood and the flash to the future, which happens in some of the stories, is to older women. Again there seems to be the perspective of someone older looking back on a younger self but the older (looking-back) self is probably someone around Munro’s own age now – just as the younger (looking-back) narrator was at the time Munro wrote her first collection of short stories. The problem for me, I suppose, is I cannot relate (yet) to either of the selves in these collections of short stories. I’ve not experienced much of what the female characters have and I don’t have that perspective of being able to look back, which might be part of the key of Munro’s stories.  On that level it seems more my failure than Munro’s, and, if that’s the case, then this probably is one of those books to revisit at a different point in my life when I, as the reader, can bring more to the text.

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