Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review: Too Much Happiness

Too Much Happiness by Alice Murno

Alice Munro has been one of my favorite writers since first reading The Beggar Maid. There is always an ease in her style that is balanced with a dryness and a distance that spotlights the isolation of her characters. Her writing has always struck me as very mature, as writing for grown ups. There is nothing flashy in Munro’s work. What she does is almost always just exactly what is required. Just what the story deserves.

Too Much Happiness, another short story collection, does not disappoint—for the most part. It is as pleasant as you would expect of Munro, until you get to the title story. Like View from Castle Rock, “Too Much Happiness” tries to establish relationships that span generations and continents. It goes so far beyond the simple, direct relations that surround someone to the histories that preceded them. The story is disjointed, too filled with facts and information to bring the reader in, make us feel close to the characters.

While I doubt that Alice Munro would publish a book that I wouldn’t read, I wouldn’t recommend a novice to her work begin with this, her latest collection. Her books are so full of excellent work that nearly any other other book on the shelf might be better.

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