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Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories (Anglais) Broché – 8 octobre 2002

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Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage

Years ago, before the trains stopped running on so many of the branch lines, a woman with a high, freckled forehead and a frizz of reddish hair came into the railway station and inquired about shipping furniture.

The station agent often tried a little teasing with women, especially the plain ones who seemed to appreciate it.

"Furniture?" he said, as if nobody had ever had such an idea before. "Well. Now. What kind of furniture are we talking about?"

A dining-room table and six chairs. A full bedroom suite, a sofa, a coffee table, end tables, a floor lamp. Also a china cabinet and a buffet.

"Whoa there. You mean a houseful."

"It shouldn't count as that much," she said. "There's no kitchen things and only enough for one bedroom."

Her teeth were crowded to the front of her mouth as if they were ready for an argument.

"You'll be needing the truck," he said.

"No. I want to send it on the train. It's going out west, to Saskatchewan."

She spoke to him in a loud voice as if he was deaf or stupid, and there was something wrong with the way she pronounced her words. An accent. He thought of Dutch--the Dutch were moving in around here--but she didn't have the heft of the Dutch women or the nice pink skin or the fair hair. She might have been under forty, but what did it matter? No beauty queen, ever.

He turned all business.

"First you'll need the truck to get it to here from wherever you got it. And we better see if it's a place in Saskatchewan where the train goes through. Otherways you'd have to arrange to get it picked up, say, in Regina."

"It's Gdynia," she said. "The train goes through."

He took down a greasy-covered directory that was hanging from a nail and asked how she would spell that. She helped herself to the pencil that was also on a string and wrote on a piece of paper from her purse: G D Y N I A.

"What kind of nationality would that be?"

She said she didn't know.

He took back the pencil to follow from line to line.

"A lot of places out there it's all Czechs or Hungarians or Ukrainians," he said. It came to him as he said this that she might be one of those. But so what, he was only stating a fact.

"Here it is, all right, it's on the line."

"Yes," she said. "I want to ship it Friday--can you do that?"

"We can ship it, but I can't promise what day it'll get there," he said. "It all depends on the priorities. Somebody going to be on the lookout for it when it comes in?"

"Yes."

"It's a mixed train Friday, two-eighteen p.m. Truck picks it up Friday morning. You live here in town?"

She nodded, writing down the address. 106 Exhibition Road.

It was only recently that the houses in town had been numbered, and he couldn't picture the place, though he knew where Exhibition Road was. If she'd said the name McCauley at that time he might have taken more of an interest, and things might have turned out differently. There were new houses out there, built since the war, though they were called "wartime houses." He supposed it must be one of those.

"Pay when you ship," he told her.

"Also, I want a ticket for myself on the same train. Friday afternoon."

"Going same place?"

"Yes."

"You can travel on the same train to Toronto, but then you have to wait for the Transcontinental, goes out ten-thirty at night. You want sleeper or coach? Sleeper you get a berth, coach you sit up in the day car."

She said she would sit up.

"Wait in Sudbury for the Montreal train, but you won't get off there, they'll just shunt you around and hitch on the Montreal cars. Then on to Port Arthur and then to Kenora. You don't get off till Regina, and there you have to get off and catch the branch-line train."

She nodded as if he should just get on and give her the ticket.

Slowing down, he said, "But I won't promise your furniture'll arrive when you do, I wouldn't think it would get in till a day or two after. It's all the priorities. Somebody coming to meet you?"

"Yes."

"Good. Because it won't likely be much of a station. Towns out there, they're not like here. They're mostly pretty rudimentary affairs."

She paid for the passenger ticket now, from a roll of bills in a cloth bag in her purse. Like an old lady. She counted her change, too. But not the way an old lady would count it--she held it in her hand and flicked her eyes over it, but you could tell she didn't miss a penny. Then she turned away rudely, without a good-bye.

"See you Friday," he called out.

She wore a long, drab coat on this warm September day, also a pair of clunky laced-up shoes, and ankle socks.

He was getting a coffee out of his thermos when she came back and rapped on the wicket.

"The furniture I'm sending," she said. "It's all good furniture, it's like new. I wouldn't want it to get scratched or banged up or in any way damaged. I don't want it to smell like livestock, either."

"Oh, well," he said. "The railway's pretty used to shipping things. And they don't use the same cars for shipping furniture they use for shipping pigs."

"I'm concerned that it gets there in just as good a shape as it leaves here."

"Well, you know, when you buy your furniture, it's in the store, right? But did you ever think how it got there? It wasn't made in the store, was it? No. It was made in some factory someplace, and it got shipped to the store, and that was done quite possibly by train. So that being the case, doesn't it stand to reason the railway knows how to look after it?"

She continued to look at him without a smile or any admission of her female foolishness.

"I hope so," she said. "I hope they do."

The station agent would have said, without thinking about it, that he knew everybody in town. Which meant that he knew about half of them. And most of those he knew were the core people, the ones who really were "in town" in the sense that they had not arrived yesterday and had no plans to move on. He did not know the woman who was going to Saskatchewan because she did not go to his church or teach his children in school or work in any store or restaurant or office that he went into. Nor was she married to any of the men he knew in the Elks or the Oddfellows or the Lions Club or the Legion. A look at her left hand while she was getting the money out had told him--and he was not surprised--that she was not married to anybody. With those shoes, and ankle socks instead of stockings, and no hat or gloves in the afternoon, she might have been a farm woman. But she didn't have the hesitation they generally had, the embarrassment. She didn't have country manners--in fact, she had no manners at all. She had treated him as if he was an information machine. Besides, she had written a town address--Exhibition Road. The person she really reminded him of was a plainclothes nun he had seen on television, talking about the missionary work she did somewhere in the jungle--probably they had got out of their nuns' clothes there because it made it easier for them to clamber around. This nun had smiled once in a while to show that her religion was supposed to make people happy, but most of the time she looked out at her audience as if she believed that other people were mainly in the world for her to boss around.

One more thing Johanna meant to do she had been putting off doing. She had to go into the dress shop called Milady's and buy herself an outfit. She had never been inside that shop--when she had to buy anything, like socks, she went to Callaghans Mens Ladies and Childrens Wear. She had lots of clothes inherited from Mrs. Willets, things like this coat that would never wear out. And Sabitha--the girl she looked after, in Mr. McCauley's house--was showered with costly hand-me-downs from her cousins.

In Milady's window there were two mannequins wearing suits with quite short skirts and boxy jackets. One suit was a rusty-gold color and the other a soft deep green. Big gaudy paper maple leaves were scattered round the mannequins' feet and pasted here and there on the window. At the time of year when most people's concern was to rake up leaves and burn them, here they were the chosen thing. A sign written in flowing black script was stuck diagonally across the glass. It said: Simple Elegance, the Mode for Fall.

She opened the door and went inside.

Right ahead of her, a full-length mirror showed her in Mrs. Willets's high-quality but shapeless long coat, with a few inches of lumpy bare legs above the ankle socks.

They did that on purpose, of course. They set the mirror there so you could get a proper notion of your deficiencies, right away, and then--they hoped--you would jump to the conclusion that you had to buy something to alter the picture. Such a transparent trick that it would have made her walk out, if she had not come in determined, knowing what she had to get.

Along one wall was a rack of evening dresses, all fit for belles of the ball with their net and taffeta, their dreamy colors. And beyond them, in a glass case so no profane fingers could get at them, half a dozen wedding gowns, pure white froth or vanilla satin or ivory lace, embroidered in silver beads or seed pearls. Tiny bodices, scalloped necklines, lavish skirts. Even when she was younger she could never have contemplated such extravagance, not just in the matter of money but in expectations, in the preposterous hope of transformation, and bliss.

It was two or three minutes before anybody came. Maybe they had a peephole and were eyeing her, thinking she wasn't their kind of customer and hoping she would go away.

She would not. She moved beyond the mirror's reflection--stepping from the linoleum by the door to a plushy rug--and at long last the curtain at the back of the store opened and out stepped Milady herself, dressed in a black suit with glittery buttons. High heels, thin ankles, girdle so tight her nylons rasped, gold hair skinned back from her made-up face.

"I thought I could try on the suit in the window," Johanna said in a rehearsed voice. "The green one."

"Oh, that's a lovely suit," the woman said. "The one in the window happens to be a size ten. Now you look to be--maybe a fourteen?"

She rasped ahead of Johanna back to the part of the store where the ordinary clothes, the suits and daytime dresses, were hung.

"You're in luck. Fourteen coming up."

The first thing Johanna did was look at the price tag. Easily twice what she'd expected, and she was not going to pretend otherwise.

"It's expensive enough."

"It's very fine wool." The woman monkeyed around till she found the label, then read off a description of the material that Johanna wasn't really listening to because she had caught at the hem to examine the workmanship.

"It feels as light as silk, but it wears like iron. You can see it's lined throughout, lovely silk-and-rayon lining. You won't find it bagging in the seat and going out of shape the way the cheap suits do. Look at the velvet cuffs and collar and the little velvet buttons on the sleeve."

"I see them."

"That's the kind of detail you pay for, you just do not get it otherwise. I love the velvet touch. It's only on the green one, you know--the apricot one doesn't have it, even though they're exactly the same price."

Indeed it was the velvet collar and cuffs that gave the suit, in Johanna's eyes, its subtle look of luxury and made her long to buy it. But she was not going to say so.

"I might as well go ahead and try it on."

This was what she'd come prepared for, after all. Clean underwear and fresh talcum powder under her arms.

The woman had enough sense to leave her alone in the bright cubicle. Johanna avoided the glass like poison till she'd got the skirt straight and the jacket done up.

At first she just looked at the suit. It was all right. The fit was all right--the skirt shorter than what she was used to, but then what she was used to was not the style. There was no problem with the suit. The problem was with what stuck out of it. Her neck and her face and her hair and her big hands and thick legs.

"How are you getting on? Mind if I take a peek?"

Peek all you want to, Johanna thought, it's a case of a sow's ear, as you'll soon see.

The woman tried looking from one side, then the other.

"Of course, you'll need your nylons on and your heels. How does it feel? Comfortable?"

"The suit feels fine," Johanna said. "There's nothing the matter with the suit."

The woman's face changed in the mirror. She stopped smiling. She looked disappointed and tired, but kinder.

"Sometimes that's just the way it is. You never really know until you try something on. The thing is," she said, with a new, more moderate conviction growing in her voice, "the thing is you have a fine figure, but it's a strong figure. You have large bones and what's the matter with that? Dinky little velvet-covered buttons are not for you. Don't bother with it anymore. Just take it off."

Then when Johanna had got down to her underwear there was a tap and a hand through the curtain.

"Just slip this on, for the heck of it."

A brown wool dress, lined, with a full skirt gracefully gathered, three-quarter sleeves and a plain round neckline. About as plain as you could get, except for a narrow gold belt. Not as expensive as the suit, but still the price seemed like a lot, when you considered all there was to it.

At least the skirt was a more decent length and the fabric made a noble swirl around her legs. She steeled herself and looked in the glass...


From the Hardcover edition.

Revue de presse

“Surely Munro’s best yet.” –The New York Times Book Review

“She is the living writer most likely to be read in a hundred years.” –Mona Simpson, The Atlantic Monthly

“One of the foremost practitioners of the art of the short story. . . . These tales have the intimacy of a family photo album and the organic feel of real life.” –The New York Times

“A writer to cherish. . . . The sheer spaciousness of Munro’s storytelling, her gift for surprising us with the truth about ourselves, has transcended national boundaries.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review

“In Munro’s hands, as in Chekhov’s, a short story is more than big enough to hold the world–and to astonish us, again and again.” —Chicago 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

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2.5 étoiles sur 5
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Format: Poche Achat vérifié
Alice Munro est capable en quelques pages de tisser la trame d'une vie, dont la banalité même devient souvent exceptionnelle. A travers les souffrances de ces femmes, confrontées à des rêves brisés, à des enfances sans issue ou encore à des amours obscurcis par on ne sait quelle fatalité, elle décrit l'univers contemporain des campagnes du Canada britannique, qui, comme ailleurs, enferment de curieux destins de personnages aux abois.
J'en retiens ces étonnants portraits de femmes qui semblent s'initier à une réalité diffuse où personne ou presque ne communique, où les sentiments meurent aussi vite qu'ils ont éclot, au coeur d'une nature souvent hostile, entre deux emplois, deux naissances , trois ou quatre rencontres plus ou moins futiles.
Ces nouvelles sont vraiment remarquables, et il faut, si possible les lire en anglais, dans une langue ciselée et elliptique, qui plonge profondément dans la trame de vies bouleversantes.
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Acheté pour la Fac d'anglais, je l'ai trouvé d'un ennui extrême. A peine utilisé en cours ce livre à été un vrai achat inutile.
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Alice Munro is really one of the best writers of short stories, thank's to the Nobel's Prize I discover her work, late but not least.
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J'avais cru acheter là le roman complet: il n'en n'est rien. L'édition est plus chère, mais le contenu est identique, -en tous points-, à celui du livre ci deçu.
Une astuce commerciale désagréable et bien décevante.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5 181 commentaires
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fantastic, detailed stories 7 mars 2017
Par H. Davis - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I make time to read this (I usually am too busy with my kids to read as much as I'd like.) Each sentence she writes is a masterpiece, it's amazing! The amount of detail that she weaves into her stories is spellbinding. She takes the reader on a journey that consistently goes places you wouldn't expect and starts and ends her stories where you have a sense there was so much more before and after just what she puts down in print. The stories have a real life of their own and they meander through these languid twists and turns that make describing her stories impossible. I have more than once tried to explain what I'm reading and find I really can't express what the story is about without repeating all of these crazy details that tie the whole thing together. There's so much going on in each short story that I feel like I'm exercising areas in my mind that I don't normally use. Brilliant writing. Very enjoyable. I totally recommend this book!
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A wonderful introduction to a Nobel Laureate 23 décembre 2013
Par HT - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
When Alice Munro won the Nobel prize for literature this year I knew I'd have to give her a try. Although she may have written a novel or two, her real forte is the short story. At first I thought I'd get a broad compilation of her work but after researching a bit I realized I needed to read one of her collections based on a theme. I'm glad this is the book I first reached for.

She tells a series of nine stories about relationships between men and women, married or not. In the first story, from which the book takes its name, a woman enters into a correspondence with another man - or at least she thinks she does; in actuality the young girl whom she takes care of and the girl's friend have been intercepting the letters and forging love letters in return. As a result of the letters, the protagonist leaves the house she is working in to live with the man she thought she had been corresponding with. Yeah; imagine that for a moment.

Many of the men in the stories are hard bitten, small, mean, and abusive - either physically or emotionally. The women either make adjustments or break clean.

One of my favorite literature courses in college was Southern Short Stories; if you've never read "Why I Live at the P.O." by Eudora Welty, stop what your are doing and read it now. Pacing and details are much different from novels. Short stories start in medias res (in the midst of things) whereas novels are "ab ovo" (from the egg). These are long form short stories so we don't start smack down in the middle of everything but you do you have to spend some effort to pull pieces together. I'm so used to the novel form, that it took some getting used to. But It was definitely worth it.

I highly recommend Alice Munro - and this seems a great place to start.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Short Stories 16 octobre 2014
Par Kathy V. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
We read each of these stories for a short story discussion group. Although there are a few recurring themes, each story held some unexpected twists and turns. In her stories, Munro sometimes gives great detail of incidents that may seem inconsequential but give the reader such great sense of the characters. When we read other anthologies our group typically discussed two stories at every meeting, but when we started reading this book we quickly decided to discuss just one story each time. Everyone in the group really enjoyed the writing and narratives and we had much to talk about with each story.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A Tough Read 20 avril 2014
Par Gail A. Rosewater - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Even though Ms. Munro won the Nobel Prize, this book of short stories is tough to get through. I found that the point of view and conversation were difficult to follow and the characters hard to get to know. There are flashes of understanding but little satisfaction of getting a good grip on the author's intent. Some stories are better than others. The first story, Hateship, is probably the easiest in terms of a plot formula. Some stories have to be read multiple times to make sense of them. Good writing in many places, but not satisfying.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Another solid collection 9 mai 2013
Par Kate B. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Alice Munro's gifts are understated; she is so good at what she does that her work is nearly artless. Munro's stories are unsentimental, but at the same time they seem very personal. She revisits themes over and over in this collection -- marriage, illness and caretaking, a relative's visit -- but always has something new to say about them, and each story feels as true as memoir or memory.

My favorite piece in this collection was Queenie, a story unusually (for Munro) grounded in a particular time. Narrated by her step-sister, it's about Queenie's escape from home, and then her escape from that escape. I also liked the tender but funny title story, in which an idle prank engineered by a teenage girl alters the lives of two unhappy adults in a way she didn't intend, and The Floating Bridge, which depicts a very sick woman's reacquaintance with joy in the form of a careless, confident young man.

I found the final story, The Bear Came Over The Mountain, sad and disturbing, but this might have been the author's intent.
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