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.


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