Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Lucky number 13 is Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro.

Had a slight problem with this book, got to page 136, half way through a story, when bam, I noticed that the next page was 189. Missing pages! What the hell??? So, I discovered this on the weekend, didn't really have time to head over to Chapters (which is where I bought it and fortunately I did find the receipt), so I would've finished this sucker on the weekend, rather than yesterday, had I not hit this snag. Yesterday after work, headed to the Chapters I bought it at, returned it, and promptly found out that they didn't have any more copies in stock. Sigh. Fortunately, headed over to local bookstore Pages, and they did have a copy. So yeah, went home and finished reading.

As usual, this is a collection of short stories. I love Alice Munro's short stories. There's always something wonderfully off kilter about them, even though they're about pretty mundane things. Her collections often have a theme through them (or at least, I shoehorn one on them), and this one seemed to be marital strife. A lot of the stories had the protaganist divorced, or embarking on an affair, or running away from an unhappy union or, or widowed, or, in the last story, having to suffer through a loved one not recognizing their partner due to the ravages of Alzheimers (and yes, you may recognize this story as the basis for Sarah Polley's recent movie; Away From Her).

As usual, the reactions to these various characters and their various reasons for what they do are mixed; understanding, incredulousness, sadness, pity and even some revultion in one story.

The last story, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, is indeed a bit of a tearjerker. The husband is revealed to be a bit of a cad, but one who does deeply love his wife and had never dreamed of leaving her despite his numerous indiscretions. But due to the Alzheimers, she leaves him. In the home he is forced to put her in, she strikes up a deep relationship with another of the home's residents, and she doesn't remember her real husband at all, no matter how many times he comes to visit her. It's hard not to feel sorry for her husband, so doggedly visiting, hoping for her return, witnessing her 'affair' first hand, but there's also a little bit like, well, why did he cheat on her in the first place though, and is what's happening now almost a little karmic pay back? The story actually does end as happily as it can, given the circumstances.

Really enjoyed this collection.