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Runaway Noun or Verb As a noun, runaway conjures a fairly specific character and situation.Image Runaway child with backpack But as a phrasal verb, running away is often much broader andmetaphorical.Right now, writing this, while sitting at my laptop, I m running away from planning a conference presentation In the past, I have run away from physical fear trying to climb a net a job I hated so much it was making me ill and from potential rejection and thus from possible acceptance Runaway Noun or Verb As a noun, runaway conjures a fairly specific character and situation.Image Runaway child with backpack But as a phrasal verb, running away is often much broader andmetaphorical.Right now, writing this, while sitting at my laptop, I m running away from planning a conference presentation In the past, I have run away from physical fear trying to climb a net a job I hated so much it was making me ill and from potential rejection and thus from possible acceptance.Butoften, consciously or not, I stiffen my British upper lip and focus on surviving immediate difficulties, either by denial or by distracting myself with fripperies, against a background of hopeful detachment.Living in the present can be a coping strategy for those with past trauma or a fearful future I m not really in either camp But maybe as a symptom of enjoying fiction, if times are tricky, I default to imagining alternative situations, rather than face the one I m actually living.Image My life isinteresting inside my head I can t find the original artist Even doing nothing is a decision of sorts Never put off to tomorrow, what you can put off till next week said no successful, famous, and content person, ever.I see the patterns of my behaviour, but not a generalised solution, no way to discern which approach to use when This is frustrating, because wilful ignorance is an accidentally recurring theme of my recent reading Ford Madox Ford s The Good Soldier see my review HERE and John Williams Nothing But the Night see my review HERE , and now this.Reading to Save OurselvesMy edition has an introduction by Jonathan Franzen I read it in 2018, a year and a half into Trump s presidency But in 2004, Franzen wrote Hatred is entertaining The great insight of media age extremists How else to explain the election of so many repellant zealots, the disintegration of political civility, the ascendancy of Fox NewHe ends up asking if a better kind of fiction can save the world, and concludes that s unlikely, but it may save your soul That is why we read, and why we discuss on GR I think there isworth in that thought than in some of these stories except they are part of his solution A Mixed Bag Three of the stories are episodes in the life of one character, Juliet, forming a novella That is preceded and followed by other stories, which are unrelated, except they are all of similar length, have single word titles, and share the general theme of a Canadian woman running away from the past, from parents, from partners, from a child, from reality, from religion and to it To quote from REM s Belong, they want To breathe at the thought of such freedom Opened the window, A breath, this song, how long, And knew, knew, belong There s nothing inherently wrong with a mix of novella and short stories, but in this case, it added to the sense of unevenness in the collection The best of the stories were very good though not superb, like Munro s The Lives of Girls and Women see my review HERE , but the final one was a ridiculous, disjointed, unengaging mess THE STORIESRunaway 3 Carla ran away to marry Clark She saw him as the architect of the life ahead of them, herself as captive, her submission both proper and exquisite They now run a stables, not very successfully, and are married, not very successfully Carla is fonder of her pet goat, Flora You sense casual manipulation and overt put downs a see saw misery Then, atwisted plan, and a dash of almost magical realism Chance Juliet s story, part 1 4 As a child in the suburbs, Juliet s mother had wanted her to be popular, and her father to fit in Her sort of intelligence was often put in the same category as a limp or an extra thumb She s now a young classics teacher who views and interprets the world and people in it by analogies in Greek mythology She has a strange experience and a curious encounter on a train Blood is relevant for two very different reasons The parallel narratives mean you re not initially clear how or if they re connected, and whether one is imaginary Soon Juliet s story, part 2 3 This opens with a description of a strange painting titled, I and the Village Juliet takes her small daughter Penelope to visit her aging hippie parents, Sam and Sara, who lived in a curious but not unhappy isolation Atheist Juliet is shocked that her mother has acquired some sort of faith, and angry when a priest friend of her mother s criticizes her for depriving Penelope of a religious upbringing It s poignant, but firmly the middle part it doesn t work as well as a standalone story as parts 1 and 3.Silence Juliet s story, part 3 5 Penelope is now 20, and has been away at a spiritual retreat for the last six months Unlike the other stories in the collection, this one focuses on the one left behind, as she tries to join the dots, tormented by thoughts of what she should have done differently It s farpainful Brilliantly so There can be freedom in being abandoned But freedom isn t necessarily happiness Passion 4 The risk of revisiting the past is that it has changed, gone, or is just irrelevant Grace returns to the lake town where she had worked and fallen in love Or rather, Maury fell in love with her She seemed closer though not in a sexual way to his mother, who understood her passion for knowledge Mrs Travers would not start any sort of conversation until enough time had passed for Grace s thoughts to have got loose from whatever book she had been in The title is as much about lack of passion fear and inexperience made McEwan s On Chesil Beach come to mind see my review HERE as misdirected passion Two people running away from different things, in different ways, is not necessarily a recipe for a happy ending Trespasses 4 The previous story started with a woman revisiting her past and ended with drama in a car This separate story starts with four in a car, revisiting the past The situation is intriguingly vague, as are the connections between the people, and the two timelines rather like one of the characters She talked about her life without getting it in any kind of order It s about identity and the sort of insecurities many children have about their place in the world, and especially their family It looked as if it was going to be unoriginal and thus predictable It was neither If there was one big thing she hadn t known about, why could there not be another This notion was unsettling, but it had a distant charm Tricks 5 Robin 26 cares for her sickly older sister, Joanne Her annual treat to herself is a trip to see a Shakespeare play, and his themes are the key to the story lost and found, mistaken identity, opportunities lost by a sliver of chance, and the transformative effect of a curious and powerful connection Nothing faded for her Her memories, and the embroidery on her memories, just kept wearing a deeper groove Powers 1 A first person narration mostly , starting earlier than the others, in 1927 Nancy has recently left school, but is still rather naive and childish in her extrovert and teasing ways A male friend wonders why he hangs out with her, when she is Not outstanding in any way, except perhaps in being spoiled, saucy, and egotistical Nancy herself Was truly, naturally reckless and full of some pure conviction that she led a charmed life I didn t buy it Her friend Tessa seemedcharmed, living in the woods, doing psychic consultations, mainly to help people find lost things including bodies.Anyway, Nancy gets implausibly engaged, and then married, then there s an epistolary section, and a bit of discussion of parapsychology Later, the story turnsto Tessa, and the consequences of moderate fame, infamy, and investigation There are chance meetings that are too convenient The characters are mostly inconsistent and not credible There s mention of people s need to believe in alternative reality Very bitty time hops The ending was odd and confusing This story was a mess I hated it, and most of all, I hated that it was the last one of an otherwise very good collection Other Quotes The whole countryside was changing, shaking itself loose after a long period of endless rain They outings were what people did before they understood the realities of their lives He was both a handsome man and a silly looking man Tall, lean, well built, but with a slouch that seemed artificial A contrived, self conscious air of menace a vain little moustache, eyes that appeared both hopeful and mocking, a boyish smile perpetually on the verge of a sulk It was as if she had a murderous needle somewhere in her lungs, and by breathing carefully, she could avoid feeling it But every once in a while she had to take a deep breath, and it was still there Trim abundance a few repetitive houses suburbs She can tell by his voice that he is claiming her He advances on her and she feels herself ransacked from top to bottom, flooded with relief, assaulted by happiness The sort of card you send to an acquaintance whose tastes you cannot guess The memory of him in the daily and ordinary world was in retreat The smell did not make Grace hungry, exactly it made her remember being hungry in other circumstances Her casually provocative outfits Everything might still be cheerful but the cheerfulness was hard as knives a couple, after drinking A bachelor s room, with everything deliberate and necessary proclaiming a certain austere satisfaction The conversation of kisses Sporadic and secret, but, on the whole, comforting someone s sex life Runaway Stories, Alice MunroRunaway is a book of short stories by Alice Munro First published in 2004 by McClelland and Stewart, it was awarded that year s Giller Prize and Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize.There are eight short stories in the book Three of the stories Chance , Soon , and Silence are about a single character named Juliet Henderson Runaway a woman is trapped in a bad marriage Chance Juliet takes a train trip which leads to an affair Soon Juliet visits her Runaway Stories, Alice MunroRunaway is a book of short stories by Alice Munro First published in 2004 by McClelland and Stewart, it was awarded that year s Giller Prize and Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize.There are eight short stories in the book Three of the stories Chance , Soon , and Silence are about a single character named Juliet Henderson Runaway a woman is trapped in a bad marriage Chance Juliet takes a train trip which leads to an affair Soon Juliet visits her parents with her child Penelope Silence Juliet hopes for news from her adult estranged daughter Penelope Passion A lonely small town girl flees a passionless relationship with an outsider Trespasses Lauren, a young girl, meets an older woman, Delphine, who is too interested in her Tricks Robin, a lonely girl, lives life alone due to bad luck and misinterpretation Powers, the eighth and final story in the collection, is divided into five parts 2011 1385 192 9643692930 21 1389 394 2004 Another superb collection of stories by Alice Munro The stories in this collection are longer and often make giant leaps forward in time so we get a sense of the entire life of her characters She also uses the same character in three stories As usual, her main theme is the lives of women who can t quite find an inspiring home in the world in which they re forced to live Dysfunctional relationships, especially with men but sometimes with daughters, abound She s so good at evoking the settlin Another superb collection of stories by Alice Munro The stories in this collection are longer and often make giant leaps forward in time so we get a sense of the entire life of her characters She also uses the same character in three stories As usual, her main theme is the lives of women who can t quite find an inspiring home in the world in which they re forced to live Dysfunctional relationships, especially with men but sometimes with daughters, abound She s so good at evoking the settling dust of disappointment As seen on The ReadventurerLike many readers, I claim quite often that I am not really a fan of short stories, that is, I claim that until I come across the next good short story collection, like Alice Munro s Runaway My imaginary dislike for shorts can surely be traced to reading too many poorly assembled multi author anthologies There are maybe two of them in existence that I can honestly call good From my experience, single author collections are much, muchsatisfying.Once again, I ha As seen on The ReadventurerLike many readers, I claim quite often that I am not really a fan of short stories, that is, I claim that until I come across the next good short story collection, like Alice Munro s Runaway My imaginary dislike for shorts can surely be traced to reading too many poorly assembled multi author anthologies There are maybe two of them in existence that I can honestly call good From my experience, single author collections are much, muchsatisfying.Once again, I have a podcast to thank for discovering a new great author this time, The New Yorker fiction podcast The moment I finished listening to Munro s Axis, I went straight to my digital public library to download meof her stories.What Alice Munro s stories remind me the most of are the works of another fabulous Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, particularly The Blind Assassin and Cat s Eye Maybe Canadian books, similar to Australian, have a specific regional flavor I am starting to believe they do, Canadian fiction tends to evokes feelings of cold, emptiness, spaciousness and loneliness in me Munro s stories have the same structure, they are told through a prism of many years past, usually by a mature female narrator, who looks back in time and recollects a specific experience of her youth that changed the whole course of her life The stories are told from a position of maturity and understanding, but with a feeling of a mild regret In the present, decades later, those life turning events do not sting as much as they used to, but the narrator knows unequivocally, they have changed EVERYTHING These events that Munro writes so beautifully about, can be quite trivial on the surface like going on a wild car ride with one s passionless fiance s brother or being momentarily rude to an annoying passenger on a train or traumatizing appearance of a strange woman in a child s life who makes the strangest insinuations about the child s birth , but whatever these events are, they affect the narrator in a major way.Munro s prose is deceptively simple and straightforward, but what she achieves with it is tremendous Her fame as one of finest short story writers is well deserved 3.5 In the brief note she left, she had used the word authentic I have always felt the need of aauthentic kind of life I know I cannot expect you to understand this That was Carla s note to her parents when she ran away with Clark, a no good drifter, as her stepfather called him She says he saved up the money for a farm, so he can t be all bad But he IS temperamental Clark often had fights, and not just with the people he owed money to His friendliness, compelling at first, could 3.5 In the brief note she left, she had used the word authentic I have always felt the need of aauthentic kind of life I know I cannot expect you to understand this That was Carla s note to her parents when she ran away with Clark, a no good drifter, as her stepfather called him She says he saved up the money for a farm, so he can t be all bad But he IS temperamental Clark often had fights, and not just with the people he owed money to His friendliness, compelling at first, could suddenly turn sour There were places in town that he would not go into, because of some row Carla and Clark run a small riding school with very few clients and horses, and things are tight They live in a mobile home which she keeps trying to fix up She works a bit for an older, well to do university couple nearby Sylvia, the wife, is now a widow and has returned after a holiday in Greece She compares Carla to to her students, the college girls who hang on her every word That s not Carla Carla reminds herof some girls she knew in high school, buoyant but not rambunctious Naturally happy Dare I say authentic We know that Carla has made up some stories and is just a big kid in many ways She often escapes to the barn to do what I suppose she thinks of as authentic work, mucking out stables, while Clark juggles the bills and the books and real life He has good reason to be irritable, but she s unhappy and getting itchy feet again She s also nervous about the consequences of her tall tales.Lonely Sylvia tries to sit Carla down to talk and talk and talk about how wonderful Greece was, staying in a tiny village with nothing to do but go for walks More of that wonderfully simple, authentic life Her influence on unhappy, naive Carla has dramatic repercussions Alongside Carla s escapades are those of a very small goat, Flora, who disappears, reappears, disappears She starts off as company for the horses, but seems to represent.It s an interesting study of power and control Oh, yes, and authenticity How could I forget the universal hankering for the romance of the simple life This was a story from The Bound Together Group s short story discussion story itself was in the New Yorker there are links toAlice Munro stories here in 1997, the reigning king of redonda, a tiny island micronation in the bahamas, was so moved by superstar spanish writer javier marias s novel todas las almas that he abdicated the throne and handed it to marias weird shit so marias confers the title of duke and duchess to certain people, amongst them john ashbery duke of convexo pedro almodovar duke of tr mula frank gehry duke of nervi n w.g sebald duke of v rtigo guillermo cabrera infante duke of tigres every year all the dukes in 1997, the reigning king of redonda, a tiny island micronation in the bahamas, was so moved by superstar spanish writer javier marias s novel todas las almas that he abdicated the throne and handed it to marias weird shit so marias confers the title of duke and duchess to certain people, amongst them john ashbery duke of convexo pedro almodovar duke of tr mula frank gehry duke of nervi n w.g sebald duke of v rtigo guillermo cabrera infante duke of tigres every year all the dukes and duchesses come together and vote for one person to receive a duchy in 2005 they voted to cast amongst their ranks alice munro duchess of ontario an island run by a spanish writer and a whole team of supercool artist royalty i m gonna ditch the by now boring united states of america and become redonda s only inhabitant here re my theories as to why redonda s royalty, most other writers, and lotsa readers have a huge boner for alice munro 1 a she s an old lady b she s canadian c she s a badass anyone who s alive in the world understands a few things a c b c but somehow, in this instance a b c this has gotta rattle the shit outta some people 2 she bypasses all the tricks lotsa contemporary writers employ in order to tease out human behavior and all those lofty writery themes munro just sets it in motion and gets to the core quicker and withpoignancy than most others contemporary writers who feel all the oldies peering over their shoulders feel like they gotta do something new different to distinguish themselves must secretly loathe munro for just spinning a yarn filled withof the good shit than they pack into their stories of monsters of mud and comic books and hebraic constables etc 3 y know how francis ford coppola the duke of megal polis seriously elevated the doings of scuzzy gangsters to the level of olympian gods well, alice munro manages to pull a variation of this with totally ordinary people it s evenimpressive, really she manages to pull the elevate to olympian god thing while simultaneously keeping her stories small and creaky and specific 4 it s 1983 and i m laying on my back in the 6 school library while mrs greene reads to us with her cracky old woman s voice i close my eyes and take in that dusty book smell and just get totally lost in the world of a great story munro does this for adults her stories are what stories meant to us when we were kids 5 this book is not one of her strongest but, paraphrasing woody allen on orgasms the worst one is right on the money, the worst is still pretty great 6 alice munro is our chekhov cynthia ozick yes, yes realism and straightforward storytelling is a trick , another mode of storytelling as artificial as any type of formalism blahblahblah you know exfuckingactly what i mean here occasionally munro employs those o henryesque endings these are amongst her weakest stories I agree with those that claim Alice Munro stories are like novels, in that they are expansive You re left feeling you ve departed a journey with these characters that you ve come to like, detest and feel disappointed in Also, they re longer than the average short story But Munro, in sweeping wonderful prose writes such striking characters in mostly small ordinary Canadian towns. &FREE PDF ↡ Runaway ⇣ The incomparable Alice Munro s bestselling and rapturously acclaimed Runaway is a book of extraordinary stories about love and its infinite betrayals and surprises, from the title story about a young woman who, though she thinks she wants to, is incapable of leaving her husband, to three stories about a woman named Juliet and the emotions that complicate the luster of her intimate relationships In Munro s hands, the people she writes about women of all ages and circumstances, and their friends, lovers, parents, and children become as vivid as our own neighbors It is her miraculous gift to make these stories as real and unforgettable as our own back cover RunawayChanceSoonSilencePassionTrespassesTricks Short stories can be deeply unsatisfying Too often the nuance overshadows character and plot development, as if the author is cruelly trying to offer the reader a tiny taste of a story before yanking it away again No so with Alice Munro She writes with such simplicity and economy and mystery The mystery arises from the way that she presents each story just a few words at the outset, perfectly descriptive, but never overly so And then the rest of it is just like alert be prepared for ti Short stories can be deeply unsatisfying Too often the nuance overshadows character and plot development, as if the author is cruelly trying to offer the reader a tiny taste of a story before yanking it away again No so with Alice Munro She writes with such simplicity and economy and mystery The mystery arises from the way that she presents each story just a few words at the outset, perfectly descriptive, but never overly so And then the rest of it is just like alert be prepared for tired metaphors unwrapping a gift or watching a flower bloom in those sped up photos Except, of course, that these flowers bloom tantalizingly slowly as the story unfolds.There s such a range of human situations that Ms Munro considers in Runaway, all of them complicated, most painful, some almost humorous, and many of them frustrating This is much like life, I guess Deeply imperfect and driven by chance and misunderstanding and weakness And yet the way that she presents life makes me feel as if every bit of it is just exactly as it should be Here s what Jonathan Franzen said about this book in the NY Times Book Review Basically, Runaway is so good that I don t want to talk about it here Quotation can t do the book justice, and neither can synopsis The way to do it justice is to read it.But here s what Michiko Kakutani says about it in the NY Times Instead of assuming the organic, musical form of real life, they feel like self conscious, overworked tales, relying on awkwardly withheld secrets and O Henryesque twists to create narra Here s what Jonathan Franzen said about this book in the NY Times Book Review Basically, Runaway is so good that I don t want to talk about it here Quotation can t do the book justice, and neither can synopsis The way to do it justice is to read it.But here s what Michiko Kakutani says about it in the NY Times Instead of assuming the organic, musical form of real life, they feel like self conscious, overworked tales, relying on awkwardly withheld secrets and O Henryesque twists to create narrative suspense EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENNG WRONG.Franzen s right Just read it It s good It s not THAT good, it s too simple and straightforward to really rock your world on a spiritual level, but it s really really good Her stories are long sometimes a bit too and have a ton of emotional weight, which a lot of these tricky young writers seem to forget to include in the name of fun No tricks here Just good stories That s the Alice Munro promise