11.19.2018

20 for 2018: The Dark and Other Love Stories


First, let me say that this book has a great dedication...


It's the kind of dedication that inspires me to live a better life. I would love to be known as the kind of person who said, "this calls for champagne!" whenever a joyful moment arose. This sentence says so much about Jim Munro and who he was.


I geared up for a high-intensity search to learn more about Jim, but quickly learned that he was the co-founder of Munro Book and the first husband of Alice Munro (based on this article, which also mentions the author, Deborah Willis). Thanks, Internet, for helping me keep it creepy in 10 seconds or less.

New goal: live my life the way I want it to appear in a book dedication.

Why I chose it

Short stories + 2017 Giller longlist = no-brainer.

My stolen summary

From Deborah Willis in The Globe and Mail: "In my early 20s, I valued my own independence above all – and maybe it's necessary to do this as a young person, in order to forge an identity that is connected but separate from your parents and from your own childhood self. But I began to outgrow the idea that a human being can be independent, and came to see just how essential my family, partner and friends are to my existence. So I wrote a book about love in all its guises."

Pros

  • Incredibly easy to become immersed in these stories. Accessible, welcoming writing
  • "Girlfriend on Mars" and "Steve and Lauren: Three Love Stories" stood out to me especially, but, really, I enjoyed the whole collection
  • Deborah Willis is my contemporary, so I felt a sense of recognition as I read some of her stories, which I tend to like
Cons

  • One story has a tiny bit of sadness related to an animal getting hurt, which is never a literary turn that I enjoy (hit the bricks, Where the Red Fern Grows)
  • Some stories ended in a way that I found a bit too pat. Hard to explain, but I couple of times I had the sense that Willis was trying too hard to round out a story that didn't need rounding out

Buy/Borrow/Bail?

I borrowed this book from the library, but I actually intend to buy it. I love short stories and would read this collection again (although, I will skip the animal story, because life is hard enough).