Short and Sweet: The View from Castle Rock, by Alice Munro

This the June edition of Short & Sweet, just a few days late.  This is one reading project I’ve managed to stay on top of this year, mostly because I’m enjoying it.  Most nights I read in bed for about 15 minutes before going to sleep, and while I don’t always read a complete story, I can usually finish a book of stories within a month.  In June I read The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro.

In The View from Castle Rock, Alice Munro mines her family history to create a set of linked stories spanning 150 years.  Part I begins with ancestors who farmed the land near Edinburgh, Scotland, and eventually made their way to North America, and ends with Munro’s parents making a living in the fur trade.  The stories in Part II are more contemporary, and more personal, dealing with the life of a young woman (presumably based on Munro herself).

Because the stories are linked and chronological, with recurring characters, the book reads like a novel.  In fact, for the last third or so I treated it that way.  Rather than reading a few pages each night, I made this book my “primary read” which allowed me to get inside the characters and see connections between events in different stories.

I enjoyed this book and really, my only quibble is not with Munro but with the publisher, Vintage Books, for poor cover design.  My edition sports a woman (headless!) lying on a sandy beach.  There isn’t a single story that matches this image, nor do the stories depict the “lazy days of summer” implied by the cover design.

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In July I’m reading The Stories of Edith Wharton, Vol. 1. Watch for the next installment of Short & Sweet!