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Away From Her [Mass Market Paperback]

Alice Munro


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Book Description

April 3 2007

Away From Her is a stunning collection of nine short stories that deal with the substance of adult life. They draw us immediately into that special place known as Alice Munro Territory — where an unexpected twist or a suddenly recaptured memory can trace the arc of an entire life.

An aging couple’s relationship is tested as the woman develops Alzheimer’s disease and forgets her long years of marriage in the title story "Away from Her." The fate of a strong-minded house-keeper, just entering the dangerous country of old-maid hood, is unintentionally reversed by a practical joke. A college student visiting her aunt and recognizing the family furniture stumbles on a long-hidden secret and its meaning in her own life. A woman recollecting an afternoon’s wild lovemaking with a stranger realizes how the memory has changed and sustained her through a lifetime.

Personal histories, both complex and simple, unfold in rich detail in this astonishing collection of stories, providing a further reason why Munro is often referred to as "our contemporary Chekhov."

The short story "Away from Her" – originally titled "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" in the collection Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage – is now a major motion picture by Sarah Polley.


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada; 1 edition (April 3 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143055380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143055389
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 10.4 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #306,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Surely Munro’s best yet ... These tales have the intimacy of a family photo album and the organic feel of real life.' -- The New York Times

'The stories are illuminated by [Munro’s] simultaneously non-judgemental, shrewd insight and by the luminosity of her prose.' -- The Globe and Mail

About the Author

Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has published ten previous books-Dance of the Happy Shades; Lives of Girls and Women; Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You; Who Do You Think You Are?; The Moons of Jupiter; The Progress of Love; Friend of My Youth; Open Secrets; The Love of a Good Woman; and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage-as well as Selected Stories, an anthology of stories culled from her dazzling body of work.

During her distinguished career, Munro has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including the W.H. Smith Award in the United Kingdom and, in the United States, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, the Lannan Literary Award, and the Rea Award for the Short Story.

In Canada, her prize-winning record is so extraordinary-three Governor General's Awards, two Giller Prizes (one of which was for Runaway), the Trillium Book Award, the Jubilee Prize, and the Libris Award, among many others-that it has been ironically suggested that as such a perennial winner, she no longer qualifies for new prizes. Abroad, acclaim continues to pour in. Both Runaway and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best Book Award, Caribbean and Canada region, and were chosen as one of the Books of the Year by The New York Times.

Alice Munro's stories appear regularly in The New Yorker, as well as in The Atlantic Monthly, Saturday Night, and The Paris Review. She and her husband divide their time between Clinton (in "Alice Munro country"), Ontario, and Comox, British Columbia.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Short Story June 14 2007
By H. F. Corbin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although a friend whose taste I respect swears by Alice Munro and at her recommendation, I have been going to read this writer for years, "Away From Her/The Bear Came Over the Mountain" is the first thing I have read by this author and after having seen the wonderful film directed by Sarah Polley and starring Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent and Olympia Dukakis. I have the same problem with this short story that I had with Michael Cunningham's THE HOURS and with Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain." I cannot separate the written word from the movies although I read both of these writers before seeing the films. They are forever merged in my brain as is the case I think when the movie is as good as the novel or short story. To further complicate matters, Ms. Polly writes a thoughtful, incisive preface to this edition of the short story so I also have her words to try to separate from the film and Ms. Munro's prose.

It is difficult not to draw parallels with the Munro story and the Polley film. There are differences but Ms. Polley gets into the heart of the story. Ms. Munro, on the other hand, can draw a picture with few, unsentimental words and can tell the reader directly what the film often can say only with facial expressions and gestures: When Ms. Munro describes at some length Grant's many affairs many years ago while married to Fiona, she informs the reader that "He had never had any intention of throwing up work and marriage and taking to the country to practice carpentry or keep bees." Or "Her hair, which was light as milkweed fluff, had gone from pale blonde to white somehow without Grant's noticing exactly when, [something difficult to show in the film] and she still wore it down to her shoulders, as her mother had done. (There is an intensely sad scene when Grant visits Fiona after she has been at the nursing home for sometime and her condition is spiralling downward. He notices that she is wearing loud garish clothes that are not hers and that "they had cut away her angelic halo." He says to her, "'Why did they chop off your hair?' Fiona put her hands up to her head, to check. 'Why--I never missed it,' she said." Or Ms. Munro describes Fiona's new friend Aubrey's skin as "leathery but pale, yellowish-white like an old wrinkled-up kid glove."

It is easy to see friends and loved ones in how these characters deal with the awfulness of Alzheimer's. The way Fiona attempts to recover when she has forgotten something went straight to my heart. My own mother would say to me when she could not remember something (I might name the names of all her grandchildren, for instance), "your memory is so much better than mine." And when Fiona manages to remember something, Grant has hope against hope that she will not get worse and/or she will never have to go to the second floor of the nursing home where patients with advanced dementia are housed. Finally, Marian, like many people in her situation, doesn't even have the luxury of leaving her husband in the home permanently because she would lose their home to cover the exorbitant bill.

Read the short story; see the movie.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong story, beautifully written July 18 2007
By Armchair Interviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Away From Her is actually Alice Munro's short story, The Bear Came Over The Mountain. The title change is because the story was made into a feature film. I would suspect that the attention the film brought to the story resulted in Vintage Books publishing a slim volume of 76 pages.

Grant is a retired professor who, while he loves his wife, Fiona, has spent his life balancing marriage with love affairs. Fiona is 70 and begins to exhibit memory loss. As she slowly recedes into the fog of Alzheimer's, the past and present are thrust upon Grant with unrelenting confusion, guilt and sadness.

When Grant is finally forced to place Fiona in the Meadowlake facility he is not prepared, after a mandatory thirty-day separation to help her settle in, to find that his wife is truly gone to him. Somehow he thought he'd have time--days, weeks, perhaps months, before she left him for good. But when he arrives at Meadowlake, Fiona has embraced life there and has made new friends. The most important friend is Aubrey. And when Aubrey leaves the facility, Fiona's health rapidly deteriorates. If Grant is to save his wife from the `second' floor of Meadowlake, he will have to be selfless and do what he thinks is best for Fiona. But will it matter?

Munro's prose is sparse, concise and straightforward. But the simple and beautiful words reach out to you and grab your attention and demand to be felt. It's not just a story about Alzheimer's disease; it's a deep and rich love story. And the combination of the Alzheimer's and love will leave you breathless. This is a volume I will keep and read again and again, savoring each word and most likely receiving different messages with each read.

Armchair Interviews says: A must read for everyone who has been touched by the insidiousness of Alzheimer's and for those who haven't.
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Duplicate story June 17 2007
By Discriminating Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Buy instead "Carried Away- A Selection of Stories" in Everyman's Library. It contains this story as well as "Runaway." I bought three books where one would have sufficed. I wish Amazon would list the titles of short stories included in an anthology!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bear Came Over the Mountain May 23 2009
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When this title popped up in my amazonian recommendations, I leapt at it, thinking it was new work. It isn't. It's the very fine novella "The Bear Came Over the Mountain", originally published as the final story of the collection 'Hateship, Friendship,Courtship, Loveship, Marriage.' I would strongly recommend buying that collection rather than this publisher's effort to capitalize on a film based on the story. "The Bear Came..." is also included in the selected stories of Alice Munro, but even that is less satisfactory than the whole original collection. Munro's books are not just compilations of stories already sold to magazines; each of her books is a kind of suite of stories that interrelate and amplify each other.

ALICE MUNRO IS THE BEST WRITER OF ENGLISH ALIVE TODAY!

There, I've said it. IMHO :-)
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We need more details Oct. 19 2010
By Sally Sordinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a great collection but I found that I had read most of the stories in other collections. It would be fair if the stories were listed in the book description. And I don't think it's fair to call it a "sample" when all it includes is the preface not even written by the aurhor.

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