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?ურეატი იყო გაკვირვება სხვა რამემ გამოიწვია ელის მანრო მოთხრობის ჟანრის ოსტატია რომანი არასდროს დაუწერია მცირე პროზის ავტორები კი სქელტანიანი რომანების ავტორების გვერდით თითქმის ყოველთვის იჩაგრებიან ხოლმე მანროსადმი I’m always car

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Dear Life

2013 წელს ნობელის პრემია ლიტერატურის დარგში კანადელ მწერალ ელის მანროს 1931 გადაეცა ეს გადაწყვეტილება ბევრისთვის მოულოდნელი იყო მწერლის ნიჭსა და ოსტატობაში ეჭვი არავის შეჰპარვია მანრო მანამდეც არაერთი პრესტიჟული პრემიის ლ? This new collect

Alice Munro ↠ 8 Read

მიძღვნილ სტატიებში ხშირად აღნიშნავდნენ რომ 2013 წლის ლიტერატურული ნობელი არა მხოლოდ მწერლის არამედ ჟანრის დაფასებაც იყო„ძვირფასი სიცოცხლე“ კრებული რომელიც თოთხმეტი მოთხრობისაგან შედგება სავარაუდოდ ავტორის ბოლო წიგნია Dear AliceWhat a


10 thoughts on “Dear Life

  1. says:

    I had never read any Alice Munro and I find it's difficult to say anything sensible about her Obviously the stories are very good She just won the Nobel Prize Duh But what's most impressive is that she doesn't seem to be doing anything in particular With some writers it's easy to understand why they're so highly regarded Take Vladimir Nabokov I look at his brilliantly constructed sentences his cleverly ambiguous allusions his breathtakingly unexpected metaphors and I sigh ah I wish I could do that too I know perfectly well that I can't; I don't have the necessary technical skills But Munro isn't showy She seems to be telling me ordinary stories about ordinary people written in an ordinary language They don't reuire concentration to read But each one is perfectly balanced and somehow they end up grabbing me by the heart and forcing me to reflect on universal themes of human nature how people are unfaithful how they lie to their loved ones how they are unable to act at a critical moment and spend the rest of their lives wondering why not how their memories don't uite match up I'm currently reading a lot of science books so perhaps it's natural that I'm reminded of a story about Einstein and Hubble Some time in the 30s Einstein and his wife visited Hubble the most distinguished astronomer of the time They were taken to see the hundred inch telescope a current miracle of advanced technologyWhat do you do with it? asked Mrs EinsteinI use it to discover the secrets of the universe replied HubbleOh said Mrs Einstein dismissively My husband does that on the back of an old envelope


  2. says:

    This new collection pinpoints the moment a person is forever altered by a chance encounter an action not taken or a simple twist of fate These are terrific stories by an amazing talent a writer so good I learn something new with every story


  3. says:

    Pivotal momentsI read this at the end of 2019 but am reviewing on the first day of 2020 a day for looking back and forward for considering who and where we are and who and where we want to beIf I was going to write short pieces about just four incidents my life what would I pick? The I thought about it the I realised like Munro that it’s not the obvious headline events graduation marriage parenthood bereavement etc Often it’s something seemingly trivial that shapes and changes us and the direction we’re going Mine would probably be from this list • Chickening out of applying for French exchange to be a Camp America counsellor and University of Cambridge • My first time being drunk plied with overly strong drinks aged 17 and narrowly escaping harmful conseuences thanks to my best friend she still is • Leaving a teaching “career” without finishing my probationary year without any idea of what I wanted to do instead• Fighting doctors to get a compromise on feeding and treating my newborn• Attending the civil partnership ceremony of my father and his partner• Supporting my child from a distance through major health and mental health issues at uni they came through with a master’s• Skimming an article about the potential of book blogging sites way back in 2008Image Me aged 19 How different is my life now from what I expected then?Fiction – and notThis book has ten understated stories and four autobiographical pieces The loosely connecting theme is girls and women breaking free from accumulated regret though not all the main protagonists are female Several stories include the loss of or fear of losing a child What is unsaid is often crucial Acts of omission lead to acts of commission The language is plain and apparently simple but always evocative and firmly conjuring time varied and place SE Canada Some have a twistWhat’s strange is that the autobiographical pieces were much less engaging than the preceding fictions less realistic and dream likeThe stories no spoilers1 To Reach Japan 2A train journey demonstrates the importance of being meaningfully present in one’s child’s life I was confused by the opening page and the big plot point in the middle was nasty which I don't necessarily mind and implausible which I do mind there was no plausible motivation 2 Amundsen 4Another train journey another disorienting start but in a captivating way It’s cold the region the sanitorium its chief doctor and a visit to a house with “a suggestion of minimal but precise comfort” I would have given 5 but the final line not a spoiler didn’t ring true for the character or her story “Nothing changes really about love”3 Leaving Maverley 5A girl from cultish sect works at small town cinema but can’t watch or even hear the films I thought I knew where Leah’s story was going but without any big twists or shocks Munro kept sidestepping the obvious It’s all about what’s unsaid unseen undone 4 Gravel 5“ Accept everything and then tragedy disappears”This is about being haunted by loss not discussing events and choosing to forget not an approach I recommend Gravel water and a dog are significant5 Haven 4A 13 year old girl year spends a year in the mid ‘70s with her uncle and aunt while her parents teach in Ghana She’s initially shocked by her aunt’s deferential domestic role “making a haven for her man” Initially 6 Pride 4Some rise up despite early setbacks while others keep digging The narrator is a man who is possibly asexual or maybe assumed to be so by himself and others because of his hare lip Pride is an impediment for others than him There is no ending Nothing is said It stops 7 Corrie 5A story of blackmail but all is not what it seems 8 Train 5A soldier returns from the war but to what and whom? He jumps off the train walks back along the tracks and drifts unobtrusively in and out of lives his and others He wants“ A different block of air emptiness” but gets“ An immediate flock of new surroundings asking for your attention”Trains are key at a couple of other points as well Also this is another character who is probably asexual which I may not have noticed had not a GR friend commented about the near invisibility of asexual characters in literature 9 In Sight of the Lake 4 or 3There are wonderful descriptions of driving and walking through a small Canadian town through the eyes of an old woman who fears losing her memory It brought to mind Rebecca Solnit’s brilliant A Field Guide to Getting Lost see my review HERE But ultimately this is an unsatisfying cliché10 Dolly 4 or 3This starts with an ageing couple considering double suicide in very pragmatic terms Fitting the theme of things going unsaid they don’t plan to write a note and she is a biographer of “forgotten novelists” But things happen As one of them says “Life is totally unpredictable”The autobiographical pieces“ The final four works in this book are not uite stories They form a separate unit one that is autobiographical in feeling though not sometimes entirely so in fact I believe they are the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life”Image The Munro family home in Wingham Ontario SourceThe Munros lived “ out of town but not really in the country It was not like the real country where people usually know the insides of one another’s houses and everybody had or less the same way of making a living”They were neither rich nor poor Not entirely happy but not dysfunctional either Her parents were from different backgrounds with different aspirations and popularity No wonder she grew up such an astute observer11 The Eye 4“ I began to accept how largely my mother’s notions about me might differ from my own”Munro’s delicate and slightly awkward relationship with her mother is demonstrated when she was 5 and her brother was born uickly followed by another baby There’s an au pair a wake and a child's overactive imagination12 Night 3After being rushed to hospital with appendicitis by horses because of a snowstorm Munro has sleep problems and murderous thoughts doubtless exacerbated by you guessed something important but unsaid Her father reassures her but still without telling her everything“ The truth was told with only the slightest modification”13 Voices 3Munro honestly confronts the inaccuracy of memories exacerbated by people deliberately turning a blind eye to unsavoury things and people The title refers to airmen at a party who were probably British and she remembers as seeming kind gentle and blessed14 Dear Life 2Ramblings combining observations of her mother’s deterioration from Parkinson’s and a possible attempted babysnatch long ago uotes• “She carried not noticing to an extreme”• “Writing this letter is like putting a note in a bottle And hopingIt will reach Japan”• “Small untidy evergreens rolled up like sleepy bears The frozen lake not level but mounded as if the waves had turned to ice in the act of falling”• “A dry lipped kiss brief and formal set upon me with hasty authority”• “Her smile seemed to shower him with delight”• “He nearly always gave approval but with ualifications”• “Haul it laundry in when it was dry and smelling all fresh and congratulatory”


  4. says:

    I’m always careful not to fall victim to popular opinion when reading any book especially one by such an acclaimed and beloved writer as Alice Munro I tried to forget the fact that Munro had only recently won the Nobel prize for fiction This is only my second Munro so maybe I’m not the best judge of her work but I did find this collection very enjoyableI find that with Munro it’s the little details Her stories are everyday stories of everyday people living mainly in small town Canada people we probably don’t expect to read about in books Whether she is exploring the thoughts of a little child an inexperienced university graduate or an unsatisfied housewife she does so expertly I found myself engaged by the stories stories that I found to be very believable as well as very sad in most cases I also enjoyed her stories set in post war Canada a very different Canada from the one I live in nowMunro definitely writes with much clarity People often comment on her well crafted sentences and I won’t argue with that What I love most of all is her insight into human relationshipsI enjoyed the last few stories that were supposedly autobiographical Very nostalgic It’s very fitting that this book is called “Dear Life”I felt uite sad when I turned the last page knowing this is supposedly the last book she will ever write “So still so immense an enchantment”— Alice Munro Dear Life


  5. says:

    Story 1 To Reach JapanA story about a woman who's determined to have an affairNow I don't condone affairs But sometimes I can understand them eg Addicted by Zane But here no reason is given for Greta cheating And it doesn't seem to matter who she's cheating with any available and interested man will do So it's not “love” affairs she's havingMy educated guess about why Greta is cheating on her husband is that she's bored She's a poet who works from home and she has a small childThe first guy she becomes enad with is a journalist who takes her home when she becomes drunk at a party In the car they're talking and he says this Excuse me for sounding how I did I was thinking whether I would or wouldn't kiss you and I decided I wouldn't What an asshole Not because as Greta thinks he's judging her “un kiss worthy” but because there is a drunk married woman in his car and he's seeing her in a sexual way What a jerk What makes you think she wants to be kissed by you??? How big of a creep are you to offer to drive a woman home from a party when she's drunk and then contemplate whether you should take advantage of her or not?? Also she's married you prickUnfortunately Greta shares none of my compunctions about his behavior and starts daydreaming about the man constantly for a year Then she writes him a letter of poetry and stuff and sends it to his work WTF??Later she enters affair number two This is when her daughter Katy and herself are traveling to Toronto to live without her husband for a month because her husband is leaving the country This actor is on the train a play actor and she describes him as “a boy” so I'm thinking he's at least 10 years younger than her He entertains all the children on the train and at the end of the day they start drinking flirting and touching It's obvious to me by now that it doesn't matter who the frick the man is she is just going after anyone with a penis – except her husband I guess This conversation happens GRETA I haven't got any condomsGREG I haveGRETA Not on you?GREG Certainly not What kind of beast do you think I am? Oh I don't know THE KIND OF BEAST WHO PROPOSITIONS A MARRIED WOMAN RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER SLEEPING CHILD???? I mean her child is curled up sleeping right there Classy sarcasmSo she leaves her child ALONE and goes to Greg's compartment to have sex with himThen after their finished having sex she tells him she has to go back to her compartment And he says Okay Okay I should get ready for Saskatoon anyway What if we'd got there just in the middle of it? Hello Mom Hello Daddy Excuse me just a minute here while I Wa hoo blink blink What A Moron Seriously THIS is who you choose to have an affair with? This guy?? IncredibleSo she goes back to her compartment to find Katy is missing She freaks out Later she finds Katy unharmed who says she went to look for Mommy Greta is feeling very guilty and shameful and as if Katy going missing was “punishment” for Greta having sex with GregThen in the final twist view spoiler Greta and Katy get off at Union Station and the journalist is waiting for them with a hug and a kiss oO hide spoiler


  6. says:

    DEAR WRITING It is reassuring to see that the Nobel Prize for literature went recently to someone who writes so clearly and so unpretentiouslyI am not much of a reader of short stories Shifting from one to the next is always anticlimactic And often their being grouped in one particular volume is also contrived This is the case with this collectioin Most of these stories were first published at different dates in various literary magazines Granta Harper’s Tin HouseThe settings are very localized very Canadian and yet they are not The situations and their plots seem easily transferable to other places they present an individual dealing with whatever life has put on mostly her tray Without much ado these stories pay homage to the arbitrariness we have to deal with dailyWhile reading them I strangely reminded of the photographic work by Walker Evans Yes I know a different country and from a narrower time frame the Depression from the 30s in the US But both them and Munro explore that subtle line that divides life from representation or the old dichotomy of Nature versus Art In their Let Us Now Praise Famous Men Evans and James Agee presented their documentary work on how a section of the US population lived They were contracted to record and collect evidence of real people in their real lives in their real surroundings But now their book with the photos and the text is considered a work of creativityAs I followed Munro’s collection I could from feel already from the first stories that there was an autobiographical tint to them They all had a personal uality I was then surprised and not surprised when just before the last four grouped as FINALE Munro warns the reader that these four stories are not such They are not fiction but have to be considered as autobiographical writings And in these we readI think that if I was writing fiction instead of remembering something that happened I would never have given her that dress A kind of advertisement she didn’t need Voices he does not have any further part in what I’m writing now in spite of his troll’s name because this is not a story only life Dear LifeWithout Munro’s warning I would not have felt that these last stories even though childhood memories predominate in them were closer to reality than the previous ones Her accounts of the familiar and the ordinary with her observations and her descriptions are all her creations her inventions But they are rendered in such transparent language that any sense of contrivance of artifice of fiction is not detectable Her pristine language approaches us very closely to her pristine and dear view of LifeDear writing indeed


  7. says:

    3 extremely memorable stars I am writing this at 245 am and we are at our cottage on Lake Huron and it was my favorite kind of day and evening and night and the spirit of Alice Munro was everywhere today My partner spent a small time in his childhood in the town of Wingham Ontario this is where Alice Munro grew upand we had dinner there with his sister who lives very close to Clinton Ontario where Alice Munro currently lives They are both ardent fans and I relished their discussion as they conversed on the art of Alice and their favorite stories by herIt was very romantic and stormy and cool when we returned to our cottage and we went for a three hour walk along the beach and into forest and I understood why I love Ontario so darn much even though I am the son of immigrant parents from the Mediterranean Ontario is so fresh plentiful and beautiful Outside of the cesspool of Toronto lies so much green and I was filled with so much gratitude to be living in this wonderful provinceAfter our walk my partner asked about my experience of Dear Life and I am ashamed to say that this is the first Alice I've read I really loved two of the stories 45 stars and very much liked two others 4 stars In his generous way he offered to read them to me on the porch and I was lulled by his rich and sonorous baritone The wondrousness of Alice shone through as well as the effects of three glasses of RieslingI will simply make a brief statement on each of the stories and I feel rather foolish especially around the stories I didn't particularly care for To even state these minor opinions of mine especially after so many esteemed individuals have honoured her in a multitude of ways However I need to be true to the self and in fact the stories that were mediocre made the ones that I loved even wonderful especially after I heard them recited by my partnerHere goesJapan 4 starsA story about how we barely understand ourselves and there are perpetual shifts in our emotions desires and ways of being in the worldAmunsden 4 starsA young teacher abandoned by her older lover in a northern Ontario town at the end of World War 2sad uncertain powerlessLeaving Maverly 35 starsA story about the seemingly random connections of acuaintances and the significant impact they can have on our livesGravel 3 starsLooking back on a family tragedy with adult eyesHaven 25 starsA middling story about a horribly controlling man and his pathetic little wifePride 45 stars fave in collectionA platonic love story between a disfigured man and a downwardly wealthy woman Beautifully rendered and poignantCorrie 45 stars second fave in collectionStolen love can be so expensive and devastating Can one ever recover?Train 35 stars The lonely wandering life of an abused soldierIn Sight of the Lake 25 starsA not so successful story about dementiaDolly 2 starsAn elderly couple behaving immaturely This one was dull and unbelievable to meThe eye 35 starsA five year old girl's first experience with deathNight 3 starsA young teenage girl struggles with insomnia and obsessive thoughts after surgeryVoices 3 starsA young girl discovers the ways of adults particularly young menDear Life 3 starsReflections on a lifeWho knew 3 stars could be so damn good? Goodnight I must sleep


  8. says:

    Dear AliceWhat a good investment you've turned out to be A little girl growing up in rural Canada in the early twentieth century far from the turmoil experienced by your contemporaries in Europe you nevertheless created several lifetimes’ worth of uniue stories from the limited resources you were given I watched while you observed every detail of your rural existence filing away images and experiences for future use like some Canadian Picasso accumulating a studio full of junk which one fine day when the light is right allows the bonnet of a toy car to become a baboon’s wide grin a football to become its body and a tennis ball its baby's headYou've recycled everything that came your way The ringlets your mother slaved over your early piano lessons your first viewing of a dead body that story you read in the newspaper the plot of the first novel you read your neighbour’s failed marriage your elderly aunt’s eccentric life your own experiences of illness every useful thing has been reused And as with Picasso each new work that emerges from the mountain of stored experiences startles by its novelty by its ability to veer off towards new and unexpected directions by its real and freuently shocking truthYou have used what you have been given very well AliceYou have earned your prizeYours very sincerelyLife


  9. says:

    As with all of Alice Munro's books I rushed out to buy this newest collection and then I rushed home eager to plunge into it I am an ardent fan of Alice Munro's work and I think this collection is good better than good The most breathtaking full and energetic of the short stories in this collection is Amundsen It takes place in a TB sanatarium near a remote town in Northern Canada The story is about a young woman who takes a job teaching the children in the sanatarium and eventually falls in love with the sanatarium's melancholy doctor whose kind yet oddly cold intentions toward the young woman remain muddled until the very end The story has the heft of a Russian novel and there is indeed an allusion to WAR AND PEACE within its pages However I felt a feverish pull to keep turning its pages and there is a good sort of mystery that keeps the story tight and page turning A lot of the other stories are classic Munro stories that examine grown up themes that so many other best selling writers and to the point big house publishers typically don't seem to have an interest in publishing these days unless they are publishing Alice Munro and maybe a handful of other wonderful literary writer like Elizabeth Strout who maintain a place in today's publishing market uite simply Munro writes about aging and she does so with bravery steadiness and stoic grace One of her characters faces the horrors of the onset of dementia after she is already in the grips of the disease; another character a seventy one year old woman begins to believe that her eighty three year old husband is going to leave her for a visiting cosmetic saleswoman who turns out to be an old flame of his These stories are sadly beautiful and they are relatively short by Munro's standards What surprised and delighted me the most were the four final works of the book She prefaces these works by saying that they are not uite stories because they are autobiographical in feeling though not sometimes in fact Munro took a similar approach in THE VIEW FROM CASTLE ROCK which begins with an account of how she researched her ancestors in Scotland then moves into pieces of fictionalized autobiography based on her Scottish ancestors in the middle Then the book ends in the realm of complete fiction I like Munro's forays into memoir and even though she doesn't truly commit to writing the truth I have to admire the fact that she doesn't pretend that her autobiographical stories are 100% true By taking this approach she avoids the trap that a number of fiction writers fall into when they venture completely into memoir It seems at least in my reading of memoirs written by fiction writers that many fiction writers who make the foray into memoir writing forget that they are still telling a story They forget that even memoirists must create a dramatic persona of themselves so that they have the distance and good narrative sense that it takes to tell a truthful AND effective story They have no sense of perspective and no sense of how they come off as the protagonist of their own stories; they often tell too much or too little In short they forget the basic elements of narrative because they are telling the truth This is not the case with Munro's autobiographical writing In fact the autobiographical works in this collection feel immediate and energetic than a number of the fictional stories Munro's voice in these pieces is stoic In a piece called Night she recalls the time when she was fourteen and she had a tumor removed at the same time she had her appendix taken out She muses about how her mother never mentioned whether the tumor was cancerous or benign So I did not ask and wasn't told and can only suppose it was benign or was most skillfully got rid of for here I am today It's statements like this that reveal her stoicism but also her warmth and humor In The Eye she writes heartbreakingly about the death of Sadie the hired girl Munro's mother apparently brought into the home to help with the chores when Munro's younger brother was born The story hinges upon the moment when Munro's mother takes her to Sadie's wake with the intentions of showing Alice what death looks like And Alice who is uite young when this event happens imagines that she sees Sadie's eye flutter open while she is lying in the casket It's a small almost Gothic moment and yet it captures perfectly that mystery and strange hope that children feel when they first see death Ultimately this is a collection that amazes me partly because Munro continues to write innovative stories at a time in her life when she has every reason to rest on her laurels It amazes me because she confronts subjects that a lot of people turn away from such as aging uietly and dying uietly of devastatingly unromantic old age ailments If you already like Alice Munro you will like the fictional stories because they have all the classic Munro traits hardscrabble settings stoic characters dark humor If you are an ardent fan such as myself you'll love the fictionalized nonfiction pieces too because they offer a glimpse into the life and mind of this beloved writer


  10. says:

    You know I have been trying to put my finger on what exactly makes Alice Munro so fascinating Her writing is without frills she does not use flowery language or dazzling metaphors Her stories can be read by any schoolkid without referring a dictionary Ms Munro does not write about extraordinary events; her characters are middle class men and women of Canada going about their humdrum lives It is Ernest Hemingway plus Jane AustenThe first story sort of had me saying Is this the Nobel Prize winner? Oh come on but something in that bland narrative pulled me in enticing me to try one then one then well you know It was like a box of chocolates when you promise to stop after the next and soon the box is emptyThe power of Alice Munro is not in what she says but what she leaves unsaid and that is uite a lot The reader is asked to fill in the gaps and I think most readers would do it in their own particular way moulding the story to his or her own fashion In most stories the narrator is a child in the first person; a child who grows up as the story progresses As we all know children see of life and interpret it less There is a disconcerting truthfulness to their viewpoints which makes adults uncomfortable And when the child grows up and understands what she has experienced before she put on her adult glasses this dichotomy of vision provides the tension which keeps the story on a knife's edgeThe unwritten story was what had me returning again and again to this collection The child's eye view is most effectively used in the stories Gravel and Voices In the first a broken up marriage is described in the voice of a child too young to form clear memories of events but has vivid recollections of things When the story suddenly escalates to tragedy without warning the kid suddenly grows up; and we realise that we have been hearing this child woman all along because in a sense she has been trapped at the point of her tragedy Her vision is crystal clear until the actual event but the moment the adult takes over analysis starts and we are now dealing with conjectures instead of concrete certaintiesIn the second the situation is prosaic In a country dance the narrator and her mother meet a prostitute The child is entranced by the elegant lady but the mum is understandably outraged Sent upstairs to get her coat so that she and her mum can leave the girl meets a girl called Peggy who is visibly upset and crying and her two suitors on the stairs Peggy is part of the prostitute's entourage and the men are uite obviously trying to pacify her They are talking to her as the child narrator had never heard a woman talked to beforeFor a long time I remembered the voices I pondered over the voices Not Peggy's The men's I know now that some of the Air Force men stationed at Port Albert early in the war had come out from England and were training there to fight the Germans So I wonder if it was the accent of some part of Britain that I was finding so mild and entrancing It was certainly true that I had never in my life heard a man speak in that way treating a woman as if she was so fine and valued a creature that whatever it was whatever unkindness had come near her was somehow a breach of law a sinIt is obvious to us adults who read the story that Peggy has been somehow slighted by the respectable ladies at the dance the child sees only the consideration she obtains from men something that is forever withheld from herNameless child narrators who seem alter egos of the novelist herself are central to the stories Haven The Eyeand Night also; and other stories such as Leaving Maverly Prideand Dear Life also deal in part with childhood In fact most of these stories involve the shifting of human relations as people grow up and they seem to wander all over the place without coming to a point Many contain snippets of information that are seemingly irrelevant to what the author is trying to convey but then as Ms Munro's narrator says in Dear LifeAnd even farther away on another hillside was another house uite small at that distance facing ours that we would never visit or know and that was to me like a dwarf's house in a story But we knew the name of the man who lived there or had lived there at one time for he might have died by now Roly Grain his name was and he does not have any further part in what I am writing now in spite of his troll's name because this is not a story only lifeLife unlike a story is never neatly rounded off Life leaves a lot of its story on unwritten pages like Ms Munro The characters in this author's fictional universe are often jarringly disconnected from one another In Train the protagonist unusually a male is on the run from a relationship but not for the reason one thinks as becomes shockingly clear at the denouement in Amundsen a relationship develops and unfurls with frightening speed The characters seem to take it all in their stride especially when narrated in Ms Munro's extremely spare prose Sometimes this alienation results in unlikely alliances too as in Corrie and Pride Many a time core plot elements are hidden or only fleetingly mentioned In the hands of a less skilled author it would have been a disaster; here it is what gives the stories their pithBecause at the centre of it all there lies hope As Neal a character in Gravel saysThe thing is to be happy he said No matter what Just try that You can It gets to be easier and easier It's nothing to do with circumstances You wouldn't believe how good it is Accept everything and then tragedy disappears Or tragedy lightens anyway and you're just there going along easy in the worldYes indeed