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Too Much Happiness [Anglais] [Broché]

Alice Munro
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Description de l'ouvrage

2 novembre 2010 Vintage International
WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE® IN LITERATURE 2013

Ten superb new stories by one of our most beloved and admired writers—the winner of the 2009 Man Booker International Prize.

With clarity and ease, Alice Munro once again renders complex, difficult events and emotions into stories about the unpredictable ways in which men and women accommodate and often transcend what happens in their lives.
 
In the first story a young wife and mother, suffering from the unbearable pain of losing her three children, gains solace from a most surprising source. In another, a young woman, in the aftermath of an unusual and humiliating seduction, reacts in a clever if less-than-admirable fashion. Other tales uncover the “deep-holes” in a marriage, the unsuspected cruelty of children, and, in the long title story, the yearnings of a nineteenth-century female mathematician.

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Extrait

Too Much Happiness

Many persons who have not studied mathematics confuse it
with arithmetic and consider it a dry and arid science.
Actually, however, this science requires great fantasy.

—Sophia Kovalevsky

i

On the first day of January, in the year 1891, a small woman and a large man are walking in the Old Cemetery, in Genoa. Both
of them are around forty years old. The woman has a childishly large head, with a thicket of dark curls, and her expression is eager, faintly pleading. Her face has begun to look worn. The man is immense. He weighs 285 pounds, distributed over a large frame, and being Russian, he is often referred to as a bear, also as a Cossack. At present he is crouching over tombstones and writing in his notebook, collecting inscriptions and puzzling over abbreviations not immediately clear to him, though he speaks Russian, French, English, Italian and has an understanding of classical and medieval Latin. His knowledge is as expansive as his physique, and though his speciality is governmental law, he is capable of lecturing on the growth of contemporary political institutions in America, the peculiarities of society in Russia and the West, and the laws and practices of ancient empires. But he is not a pedant. He is witty and popular, at ease on various levels, and able to live a most comfortable life, due to his properties near Kharkov. He has, however, been forbidden to hold an academic post in Russia, because of being a Liberal.

His name suits him. Maksim. Maksim Maksimovich Kovalevsky.

The woman with him is also a Kovalevsky. She was married to a distant cousin of his, but is now a widow.

She speaks to him teasingly.

“You know that one of us will die,” she says. “One of us will die this year.”

Only half listening, he asks her, Why is that?

“Because we have gone walking in a graveyard on the first day of the New Year.”

“Indeed.”

“There are still a few things you don’t know,” she says in her pert but anxious way. “I knew that before I was eight years old.”

“Girls spend more time with kitchen maids and boys in the

stables—I suppose that is why.”

“Boys in the stables do not hear about death?”

“Not so much. Concentration is on other things.”

There is snow that day but it is soft. They leave melted, black footprints where they’ve walked.



She met him for the first time in 1888. He had come to Stockholm to advise on the foundation of a school of social sciences. Their shared nationality, going so far as a shared family name, would have thrown them together even if there was no particular attraction. She would have had a responsibility to entertain and generally take care of a fellow Liberal, unwelcome at home.

But that turned out to be no duty at all. They flew at each other as if they had indeed been long-lost relatives. A torrent of jokes and questions followed, an immediate understanding, a rich gabble of Russian, as if the languages of Western Europe had been flimsy formal cages in which they had been too long confined, or paltry substitutes for true human speech. Their behavior, as well, soon overflowed the proprieties of Stockholm.

He stayed late at her apartment. She went alone to lunch with him at his hotel. When he hurt his leg in a mishap on the ice, she helped him with the soaking and dressing and, what was more, she told people about it. She was so sure of herself then, and especially sure of him. She wrote a description of him to a friend, borrowing from De Musset.

He is very joyful, and at the same time very gloomy—
Disagreeable neighbor, excellent comrade—
Extremely light-minded, and yet very affected—
Indignantly naïve, nevertheless very blasé—
Terribly sincere, and at the same time very sly.


And at the end she wrote, “A real Russian, he is, into the bargain.”

Fat Maksim, she called him then.

“I have never been so tempted to write romances, as when with Fat Maksim.”

And “He takes up too much room, on the divan and in one’s mind. It is simply impossible for me, in his presence, to think of
anything but him.”

This was at the very time when she should have been working day and night, preparing her submission for the Bordin Prize. “I am neglecting not only my Functions but my Elliptic Integrals and my Rigid Body,” she joked to her fellow mathematician, Mittag-Leffler, who persuaded Maksim that it was time to go and deliver lectures in Uppsala for a while. She tore herself from thoughts of him, from daydreams, back to the movement of rigid bodies and the solution of the so-called mermaid problem by the use of theta functions with two independent variables. She worked desperately but happily, because he was still in the back of her mind. When he returned she was worn out but triumphant. Two triumphs—her paper ready for its last polishing and anonymous submission; her lover growling but cheerful, eagerly returned from his banishment and giving every indication, as she thought, that he intended to make her the woman of his life.

The Bordin Prize was what spoiled them. So Sophia believed. She herself was taken in by it at first, dazzled by all the chandeliers
and champagne. The compliments quite dizzying, the marvelling and the hand kissing spread thick on top of certain inconvenient but immutable facts. The fact that they would never grant her a job worthy of her gift, that she would be lucky indeed to find herself teaching in a provincial girls’ high school. While she was basking Maksim decamped. Never a word about the real reason, of course—just the papers he had to write, his need for the peace and quiet of Beaulieu.


He had felt himself ignored. A man who was not used to being ignored, who had probably never been in any salon, at any reception, since he was a grown man, where that had been the case. And it wasn’t so much the case in Paris either. It wasn’t
that he was invisible there, in Sonya’s limelight, as that he was the usual. A man of solid worth and negotiable reputation, with
a certain bulk of frame and intellect, together with a lightness of wit, an adroit masculine charm. While she was an utter novelty,
a delightful freak, the woman of mathematical gifts and female timidity, quite charming, yet with a mind most unconventionally
furnished, under her curls.

He wrote his cold and sulky apologies from Beaulieu, refusing her offer to visit once her flurry was over. He had a lady staying with him, he said, whom he could not possibly present to her. This lady was in distress and needed his attention at the moment. Sonya should make her way back to Sweden, he said; she should be happy where her friends were waiting for her. Her students would have need of her and so would her little daughter. (A jab there, a suggestion familiar to her, of faulty motherhood?)

And at the end of his letter one terrible sentence.

“If I loved you I would have written differently.”


The end of everything. Back from Paris with her prize and her freaky glittery fame, back to her friends who suddenly meant no more than a snap of her fingers to her. Back to the students who meant something more, but only when she stood before them transformed into her mathematical self, which was oddly still accessible. And back to her supposedly neglected but devastatingly
merry little Fufu.

Everything in Stockholm reminded her.

She sat in the same room, with the furniture brought at such foolish expense across the Baltic Sea. The same divan in front of her that had recently, gallantly, supported his bulk. And hers in addition when he skillfully gathered her into his arms. In spite of his size he was never clumsy in lovemaking.

This same red damask, on which distinguished and undistinguished guests had sat in her old lost home. Maybe Fyodor Dostoyevsky had sat there in his lamentable nervous state, dazzled by Sophia’s sister Aniuta. And certainly Sophia herself as her mother’s unsatisfactory child, displeasing as usual.

The same old cabinet brought also from her home at Pali - bino, with the portraits of her grandparents set into it, painted
on porcelain. The Shubert grandparents. No comfort there. He in uniform, she in a ball gown, displaying absurd self-satisfaction.
They had got what they wanted, Sophia supposed, and had only contempt for those not so conniving or so lucky.

“Did you know I’m part German?” she had said to Maksim.

“Of course. How else could you be such a prodigy of industry? And have your head filled with mythical numbers?”

If I loved you.

Fufu brought her jam on a plate, asked her to play a child’s card game.
“Leave me alone. Can’t you leave me alone?”

Later she wiped the tears out of her eyes and begged the child’s pardon.

Revue de presse

“Filled with subtle and far-reaching thematic reverberations. . . . [Munro has] an empathy so pitch-perfect. . . . You [are] drawn deftly into another world.” —The New York Times Book Review

"Profound and beautiful.” —Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine

“Alice Munro has done it again. . . . [She] keeps getting better. . . . Her brush strokes are fine, her vision encompasses humanity from its most generous to its most corrupt, and the effect is nothing short of masterful.” —The San Francisco Chronicle

“Richly detailed and dense with psychological observation. . . . Munro exhibit[s] a remarkable gift for transforming the seemingly artless into art . . . [She] concentrate[s] upon provincial, even backcountry lives, in tales of domestic tragicomedy that seem to open up, as if by magic, into wider, deeper, vaster dimensions.” —Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books
 
“A perfect 10. . . . With this collection of surprising short stories, Munro once again displays the fertility of her imagination and her craftsmanship as a writer.” —USA Today
 
“Masterly. . . . [A] remarkable new book.” —The Los Angeles Times
 
“Daring and unpredictable. . . . Reading Munro is an intensely personal experience. Her focus is so clear and her style so precise. . . . Each [story is] dramatically and subtly different.” —The Miami Herald
 
“A brand-new collection of short stories from Alice Munro—winner of a Man Booker Prize—is always cause for celebration, and Too Much Happiness doesn’t disappoint. It dazzles. The 10 spare, lovely tales are . . . brimming with emotion and memorable characters. . . . Munro’s are stories that linger long after you turn the last page.” —Entertainment Weekly, Grade A
 
“Finely, even ingeniously, crafted. . . . Deliver[ed] with instinctive acuity.” —The Seattle Times
 
“Rich. . . . Truthful, in the deepest sense of the word. . . . Reading an Alice Munro short story is like sinking into a reverie. She expertly captures the shadings and byways of associative thought. . . . [Munro] will surely be remembered as the writer who took the short story to the depth of what short fiction can plumb.” —The Kansas City Star, Best 100 Books of 2009
 
“Rich and satisfying. . . . A commanding collection and one of her strongest. . . . Short fiction of this caliber should be on everyone’s reading list. Munro’s stories are accessible; she simply writes about life. . . . Honest, intuitive storytelling that gives the short story a good name.” —Chicago Sun-Times
 
“There's never too much happiness in a Munro collection, just sentence after sentence to die for.” —Louisville Courier-Journal
 
“[Munro is] universally acknowledged as one of the greatest short-story writers of our time. . . . [Her] work [is] at such a high level. . . . These stories are extraordinary, ample with the shrewdness and empathy that we have come to take for granted in Munro. . . . Her most distinguishing characteristic as a writer is . . . her extraordinary intimacy with her characters.” —The New Republic
 
“Coherent and compelling. . . . Munro manages to turn the sentimental into the existential.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Stunning. . . . An unexpected gift. . . . Here we have 10 perfectly honed pieces, each a study of the human psyche in hard-to-imagine circumstances that Munro presents, seemingly effortlessly, in an economy of words and sentences.” —The Buffalo News
 
“As always in her distinctive stories, Alice Murno’s style is vivid, her attention tireless, her curiosity omnivorous, and her sentences drawn from the freshest of springs.” —The Washington Post
 
“If there’s a better short story writer working today than Alice Munro, I haven’t read her. In story after story, Munro manages to compress whole lives and emotional arcs into 20 or so shapely pages, long enough to engage us in their world but short enough to absorb in a single sitting or commute. Her prose is spare without feeling rushed or cryptic, at once lucid and subtle.” —Heller McAlpin, The Christian Science Monitor
 
“I sit still for Alice Munro’s expository passages every time. She lays down such seemingly ordinary but useful sentences, one after another after another. . . . I stay to marvel. . . . Is there anyone writing short fiction today in English who has more authority?” —Alan Cheuse, NPR
 
“Beautiful. . . . With great insights into human nature.” —The Grand Rapids Press
 
“All varying degrees of excellent. . . . A work of supreme observational power, employing Munro’s deft, controlled sentences in the service of essaying characters who don’t realize they’re living their lives on the brink until revelation rushes over them.” —The A.V. Club
 
“Another piercing collection. . . . It’s a testament to Munro’s mastery that she can make the lurid sing with nuance and explicability. . . . Her ear for dialogue is unerring. . . . Whatever format you favor in storytelling, go ahead and enter Too Much Happiness.  It will carry you safely through the gates, and no doubt send you looking for other castles constructed by the stunning Alice Munro.” —The Plain Dealer
 
“Shows Munro’s skills at their best.” —The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
 
“Outstanding. . . . [Munro] writes concise descriptions that bring characters and settings to life. . . . [and] throws in observations that serve as nuggets of wisdom.” —The Wichita Eagle
 
“Consistently engrossing . . . Thoughtfully wrought. . . . [The] material is given piercing clarity by the resolute simplicity and restraint of Ms. Munro’s prose. . . . She can raise hackles on the back of your neck with a precisely phrased unadorned verb or noun. . . . The Munro magic is showcased brilliantly.” —The Washington Times
 
“The unanticipated is in full force here, fresh and exciting. Munro seems to say that mundane lives constructed of order and routine are still governed by random acts. She hides human complexity in the ordinary until it surfaces in unimagined ways.” —The Providence Journal
 
“As poignant [and] chilling as they come. . . . Why [Munro] is rightly regarded as a master of the form is her deliberate, suspenseful layering of characters and circumstances. . . . Every story in Too Much Happiness is, in a sense, a life story. . . . It’s as if the characters are reading along with these mini life lessons, emerging with enviable wisdom and perspective.” —The L Magazine
 
 
“Munro is the master of the inevitable surprise. . . . [She] has an uncanny ability to take us inside a character’s mind.” —The St. Petersburg Times
 
“Few writers can match the clarity and immediacy of Munro’s descriptions whether she is portraying a subsiding marriage, a treacherous childhood, or the erotic and intellectual sojourn of a 19th century Russian mathematician.” — The Boston Globe
 
“These ten short stories cement the capstone on what fellow Canadian Margaret Atwood has described as Munro’s ascent to ‘international literary sainthood’. . . . The title story . . . is, in length and scope, Munro’s most ambitious story to date. . . . May this house of hers, and its autumnal gardens, continue to be harvested to glorious effect.” —The Oregonian
 
“Intrigue and manipulation fill the vividly drawn stories in this collection.” —The Sacramento Bee
 
“More occurs in Munro’s short stories than in most novels. . . . The pieces here . . . are thrilling permutations of her recurring themes: love, regret, the re-framing of one’s own personal narrative over time.” —The New York Post
 
“More than virtually anyone else’s, Alice Munro’s stories unfold in surprising ways that nonetheless seem perfectly right. They are marvels of unhurried compression in which precision looks casual, in which everything is clearly in its place, though no one else might think to put it exactly thus.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

Praise from fellow writers:

“Her work felt revolutionary when I came to it, and it still does.” —Jhumpa Lahiri

“She is one of the handful of writers, some living, most dead, whom I have in mind when I say that fiction is my religion.” —Jonthan Franzen

“The authority she brings to the page is just lovely.” —Elizabeth Strout

“She’s the most savage writer I’ve ever read, also the most tender, the most honest, the most perceptive.” —Jeffery Eugenides

“Alice Munro can move characters through time in a way that no other writer can.”—Julian Barnes

“She is a short-story writer who…reimagined what a story can do.” —Loorie Moore

“There’s probably no one alive who’s better at the craft of the short story.” —Jim Shepard

“A true master of the form.” —Salman Rushdie

“A wonderful writer.” —Joyce Carol Oates

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 320 pages
  • Editeur : Vintage; Édition : Reprint (2 novembre 2010)
  • Collection : Vintage International
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0307390349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307390349
  • Dimensions du produit: 20,1 x 13,4 x 1,7 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 121 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 il n'y a plus qu'à lire 8 janvier 2014
Format:Broché|Achat authentifié par Amazon
Emballage parfait.
Une façon naturelle de connaître la façon d'arranger les mots de la récente prix Nobel de Littérature.
Première nouvelle forte à effet durable
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 achat d'un livre en VO 4 janvier 2014
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Achat que je suis loin de regretter. Alice Munro vient d'obtenir le prix Nobel et il n'est pas aisé de trouver ses ouvrages dans une petite ville. Livre en excellent état, envoi rapide et soigné. Je recommande
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 deceptively simple, truly perceptive 1 novembre 2013
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Alice Munro is a great find, bravo to the Nobel committee for allowing us to share this original way of showing the complexities of relationships-to others, oneself and the world--in such utterly simple, utterly mysterious prose, much like poetry.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 TOO MUCH HAPPINESS BY ALICE MUNRO 18 novembre 2009
Par Bonnie Brody - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat authentifié par Amazon
It is an honor to review 'Too Much Happiness' by Alice Munro, who I consider the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language. Ms. Munro is Canadian and lives in Clinton, Ontario. During her writing career she has garnered many awards including the Lannan Literary Award, the United States National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Man Booker International Prize. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, the Atlantic Monthly, as well as many other literary publications. I consider her an icon.

With each book of hers that I have read (and I have read them all!) I think that she has reached her zenith. Yet, with each new publication, I find her newest work better than her previous publications. Her work is glorious. At the rate she's going now, her zenith may be light years away.

I find the metaphor of looking into a tide pool an apt one for describing the stories of Ms. Munro. A tide pool is a microcosm of the ocean, yet it has a certain stasis and life of its own. It is a living organism, relating to the macrocosm of life in many ways. The tide pool contains living species of fish, reptiles and crustaceans, all delineated by their own life cycle which can change with the tides or with the events of weather. Ms. Munro's stories are like this. She will take a small microcosm of life and show how it has enduring and lifelong effects - effects which may be immediately observable or which may not be obvious for decades.

'Too Much Happiness' is a collection of ten short stories, each wonderful in their own right and each one as rich and nuanced as a novel. Many of them deal with similar themes - paradox, movement through time, repercussions of impulse, regret, acts of horror and relationships.

'Dimensions', the first story in the collection is about a damaged woman whose three children are murdered. She goes through life feeling empty through she talks to a social worker regularly. She is driven to visit and re-visit her ex-husband in jail. At one point he writes her a diatribe about his revelations that their children are now in another dimension. On her way to visit him one evening on the bus, she witnesses a car accident and attempts CPR on the victim. Through the CPR, she can feel life return to the young man who is near death's door.

By the third story in this collection, 'Wenlock Edge', specific themes begin to emerge - Who are we? Do we change in relationships? Of what are we capable under certain situations? Do these situations have particular reasons or are they random events related to our current environments?

The story begins with a a young woman who has regular visits from her aunt and bachelor uncle when she is a child. Her aunt dies. The young woman continues school in the city and has a weekly ritual dinner with her uncle. She also has a small circle of acquaintances. Solely by chance, she ends up with a part-time roommate with a `history'. This roommate is always getting herself into situations that don't work out and that compromise her virtue. She is also a prolific liar and likes to be in one-up situations with others. Both young women find themselves "on their way to deeds they didn't know they had in them".

'Deep-Holes' begins with a family outing to celebrate the father's publication of a paper on geology. During the course of the picnic, one of the sons, Kent, falls into a crater and breaks both of his legs. He has to remain out of school for six months. During that time, Kent and his mother share stories about distant isles and lands that are remote or unknown to mankind. One of the children becomes an attorney, the other a physician. Kent drops out of college and is heard from rarely and erratically. He lives on the fringes of society and the question arises, `What is society? The story reminded me of a novel by Carol Shields, a Canadian author, now deceased. I wondered if this story might be an homage to Ms. Shield's novel.

'The Face' is a wonderful story about a boy born with a port wine stain on half of his face. His father abhors him for his looks and calls him `liver face'. The father is rude, crude, awful. The mother is sanctimonious, martyr-like and loving her son in a standoffish way. The father avoids the son in every manner possible - he doesn't eat with him, talk to him or spend time with him. Ms. Munro brings up a lot of questions about this boy's life and the metaphor of paradox is paramount. "You think that would have changed things? The answer is of course, and for a while, and never".

'Child's Play' is a story that is idyllic on the surface and horrific in the interior. Two young girls attend a summer camp and during the course of this camp they do something that is never spoken about again until decades later. Even then the extent of what happened when they were children is not fully absorbed.

Each of these stories is masterful and wonderful in the telling. I've read the book twice and appreciate it more with each reading. There is no one living to compare Ms. Munro with. The only writer I can think of whose short stories I love as much as hers is Eudora Welty. What a group of two!!
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Stretching ... 11 décembre 2009
Par Giordano Bruno - Publié sur Amazon.com
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The characters in Alice Munro's newest book, some anyway, are more extreme than I've been used to encountering in her earlier books. There are two triple-murderers, a woman whose childhood friend helped her kill another girl, a beloved son who chooses to be a derelict, the male narrator (rare for Alice) whose port-wine birthmark thwarts his whole life, and there are a statistiacally improbable number of "specials", people with disabilities of intelligence. The dysfunctional relationships, Munro's perennial subject, are more extreme, or perhaps just more quirky, than in previous portrayals. Munro's stories have always stayed close to home - southern Ontario - and close to plain folk, to herself, her family, her ordinary `others'. That's been the great strength of her work, really -- her honesty, her close-to-bone reality. Now in her seventies, in this book and in her 2006 "The View from Castle Rock", Munro seems to be stretching her range both in time and space, writing about emigrants of the previous generation, about people who weren't and couldn't have been neighbors ... and in the title story of this collection, "Too Much Happiness", she's written a long story/novella about a Russian woman mathematical prodigy of the 19th Century. It's easy to understand why she wants to stretch, to establish her claim to some universality and some ability to get beyond her own identity as a subject. No one who has read all of her previous work, as I have, could deny that she has "written the same story again and again." She has. Or rather, she has written her several stories again and again, like Leitmotives, in her eleven books. That is NOT, believe me, a weakness in her art. It's been her genius to be able to re-examine those stories - those experiences - from the perspectives of different ages-stages of her `unfinished' life. Each retelling has expanded the story, added rings to the tree trunk of memory.

Trees, wood, and wood-working... it occurs to me that `wood' has been as much a character in Munro's narrative cast as any human, and in this collection, one story is titled "Wood." `Cancer' has also intervened often enough, and in some of Munro's finest stories, to be considered a stock character. If anyone supposes that Munro hasn't written enough about the Great Themes, let me ask you: what theme is greater than one's own death?

Or than `age'? Munro has always written eloquently about the elderly, and about children. That's been another of her literary accomplishments. In this collection, however, `age' takes a different role. Here's the first sentence of the story Some Women: "I am amazed sometimes to think how old I am." Wow! Me too, Alice! I'm ten years behind you, 68 to your 78, but I'm keeping pace like a kid brother, edging relatively closer every year. Munro writes about the strangeness of living memories of dead-and-vanished worlds, of life-styles that now seem incomprehensibly extinct, of conversations recorded in her living conscious mind that seem archaic and exotic now. Age - being old in the always-new of life - is the unifying theme of Too Much Happiness.

Thematic unity is what makes Munro's eleven books of stories more than mere `collections'. Each of her books has been a story-suite, a genre of fiction distinct from the novel or novella, in which the various narratives entangle and infuse each other with meanings. That's the case with the first nine stories in Too Much Happiness. Frankly, I didn't begin to sense the impact of the first story, Dimensions, until I'd read the fourth or fifth. The final story, of the historical `feminist' martyr Sophia Kovalevsky, stands somewhat apart from the others. Perhaps it might have been better reserved for a different collection or published separately.

Munro is more tolerant of the failings of her women than of her men. More forgiving, though it's not that there's less to forgive. Many of her women, especially her first-person female narrators, are what my mother would have called "pills". My mother never used the B-word. But Munro's men `are who they are' - completely recognizable and plausible, from the outside - while Munro's women are ... herself. There's more of her strength: her honesty of perspective and her ability to forgive herself, after cross-examination, at least enough to be able to write her confessions. Munro is above all a confessional writer, of the generation of confessor-poets like Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop.

And perhaps I need to confess that I don't consider Too Much Happiness one of Munro's best books. No single story in it is as powerful as "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" from her 2001 collection Hateship/Friendship/Courtship/Loveship/Marriage, or the title story from Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You, or "What Do You Want to Know For?" from The View from Castle Rock. Those three stories are sublime. For them alone, Munro should rank as the "greatest writer who hasn't yet won the Nobel Prize." But Too Much Happiness is a powerful book, worthy of its lineage as Munro's twelfth suite of stories. I can't wait for her thirteenth!
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 She's Earned the Right to Write Something Else ... 10 janvier 2011
Par Giordano Bruno - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
... something outside her usual range, and in this collection she certainly exercises that right. This is a second edition of "Too Much Happiness" with a different cover; I almost grabbed it and bought it in a bookstore before I recognized some of the story titles. Don't make that same mistake, unless you have an urge to give a copy to your favorite niece or nephew. Here's the review I wrote of the first edition, many months ago:

The characters in Alice Munro's newest book, some anyway, are more extreme than I've been used to encountering in her earlier books. There are two triple-murderers, a woman whose childhood friend helped her kill another girl, a beloved son who chooses to be a derelict, the male narrator (rare for Alice) whose port-wine birthmark thwarts his whole life, and there are a statistiacally improbable number of "specials", people with disabilities of intelligence. The dysfunctional relationships, Munro's perennial subject, are more extreme, or perhaps just more quirky, than in previous portrayals. Munro's stories have always stayed close to home - southern Ontario - and close to plain folk, to herself, her family, her ordinary `others'. That's been the great strength of her work, really -- her honesty, her close-to-bone reality. Now in her seventies, in this book and in her 2006 "The View from Castle Rock", Munro seems to be stretching her range both in time and space, writing about emigrants of the previous generation, about people who weren't and couldn't have been neighbors ... and in the title story of this collection, "Too Much Happiness", she's written a long story/novella about a Russian woman mathematical prodigy of the 19th Century. It's easy to understand why she wants to stretch, to establish her claim to some universality and some ability to get beyond her own identity as a subject. No one who has read all of her previous work, as I have, could deny that she has "written the same story again and again." She has. Or rather, she has written her several stories again and again, like Leitmotives, in her eleven books. That is NOT, believe me, a weakness in her art. It's been her genius to be able to re-examine those stories - those experiences - from the perspectives of different ages-stages of her `unfinished' life. Each retelling has expanded the story, added rings to the tree trunk of memory.

Trees, wood, and wood-working... it occurs to me that `wood' has been as much a character in Munro's narrative cast as any human, and in this collection, one story is titled "Wood." `Cancer' has also intervened often enough, and in some of Munro's finest stories, to be considered a stock character. If anyone supposes that Munro hasn't written enough about the Great Themes, let me ask you: what theme is greater than one's own death?

Or than `age'? Munro has always written eloquently about the elderly, and about children. That's been another of her literary accomplishments. In this collection, however, `age' takes a different role. Here's the first sentence of the story Some Women: "I am amazed sometimes to think how old I am." Wow! Me too, Alice! I'm ten years behind you, 68 to your 78, but I'm keeping pace like a kid brother, edging relatively closer every year. Munro writes about the strangeness of living memories of dead-and-vanished worlds, of life-styles that now seem incomprehensibly extinct, of conversations recorded in her living conscious mind that seem archaic and exotic now. Age - being old in the always-new of life - is the unifying theme of Too Much Happiness.

Thematic unity is what makes Munro's eleven books of stories more than mere `collections'. Each of her books has been a story-suite, a genre of fiction distinct from the novel or novella, in which the various narratives entangle and infuse each other with meanings. That's the case with the first nine stories in Too Much Happiness. Frankly, I didn't begin to sense the impact of the first story, Dimensions, until I'd read the fourth or fifth. The final story, of the historical `feminist' martyr Sophia Kovalevsky, stands somewhat apart from the others. Perhaps it might have been better reserved for a different collection or published separately.

Munro is more tolerant of the failings of her women than of her men. More forgiving, though it's not that there's less to forgive. Many of her women, especially her first-person female narrators, are what my mother would have called "pills". My mother never used the B-word. But Munro's men `are who they are' - completely recognizable and plausible, from the outside - while Munro's women are ... herself. There's more of her strength: her honesty of perspective and her ability to forgive herself, after cross-examination, at least enough to be able to write her confessions. Munro is above all a confessional writer, of the generation of confessor-poets like Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop.

And perhaps I need to confess that I don't consider Too Much Happiness one of Munro's best books. No single story in it is as powerful as "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" from her 2001 collection Hateship/Friendship/Courtship/Loveship/Marriage, or the title story from Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You, or "What Do You Want to Know For?" from The View from Castle Rock. Those three stories are sublime. For them alone, Munro should rank as the "greatest writer who hasn't yet won the Nobel Prize." But Too Much Happiness is a powerful book, worthy of its lineage as Munro's twelfth suite of stories. I can't wait for her thirteenth!
11 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 When Too Much Is Not Enough 21 janvier 2010
Par Jill I. Shtulman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
The thing about Alice Munro is, she makes it seem so EASY. Of course, it's never easy translating the core of human emotions with a few deft strokes. Or to capture universal truisms in a couple of beautiful words. Unless, of course, you're Alice Munro!

Take, for example, the haunting story "Child's Play", about two young girls and a special needs child. Munro writes: "Children of course are monstrously conventional, repelled at whatever is off-center, out of whack, unmanageable." In a brief sentence, she dispels the notion of childhood innocence and flexibility and reveals children for what they are: afraid of what is strange.

Or take a quote from the signature story, Too Much Happiness: "When a man goes out of the room, he leaves everything in it behind. When a woman goes out, she carries everything that happened in the room along with her." Does this writer understand the human condition or WHAT?

Munro draws her readers deftly into a sort of alternative world, where the people ring true, the situations, even when bizarre, seem real, and the recognitions are surprisingly of oneself. There is much pain in these stories; in Dimensions, a woman who must soldier on after her husband murders her three children. In Wenlock Edge -- in my mind, one of the best in the collection -- a college student feels compelled to read to a benefactor stark naked, and endure a humiliation that will likely always affect the way she views literature and learning. In Deep-Holes, a mother must cope with a flipped-out adult son who condemns her for not being "useful in life." And in Face, a boy with a deformed face connects and separates with a childhood friend who performs self-mutilation. The final, title story focuses on a real-life 19th century Russian mathematician and novelist and reveals another aspect of humanity entirely.

The writing is not flashy, not post-modern, and not self-conscious; just powerful, ambitious, and pitch-perfect from a writer who is correctly touted as one of the top writers working today. At the end of the book, "too much" seemed not enough at all; I await her next collection.
50 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Atmospherics 8 décembre 2009
Par Cary B. Barad - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
The author's credentials are well known, but that doesn't necessarily translate into an enjoyable reading experience. The problem here is the overemphasis on "atmospherics" at the expense of "plot". Although some of the stories in this collection are extremely well done, an equal number seem pointless--perhaps meant to be admired for their literary pedigree alone? As a result, this is a "slow going" text that requires a substantial expenditure of time with only intermittent rewards.
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