Dance of the Happy Shades

Alice Munro

I was partway through this collection of short fiction when I had to check to see if this was Munro’s first collection of stories (which it is). So often her stories seem to leave no stone to untouched, and, even though it’s not as long as a novel, you still have the sense that the narrative is entirely complete at the end. Some of these harbor the traditional annoyance of the short story where you are left wanting something more. As the book progressed, there was less of that annoyance, so either I’d adjusted to appreciating those tantalizing absences of narrative or the stories evolved more to my idea of what Alice Munro is all about.

“Boys and Girls” was definitely a favorite as a story, even though the “intrinsic nature of gender” message was unsatisfying. Apparently it was also a short film. “The Peace of Utrecht” is maybe the most Munroesque of the bunch — so much said in twenty pages. There are a few stories with big events or dramatic endings that seems unlike her later work. Though it has been quite a while since I’ve read any of her stories. This wasn’t my favorite collection, but solely in a comparative sense.