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"Runaway" (2004) - Eight Short Stories by Alice Munro (1931-), Canadien Author and Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize For Literature

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If anyone could commit to being my reading-discussion partner with "Runaway," I'd love to do something similar to what we're doing with "Troilus and Cressida" over in the theatre forum. Obviously, the more the merrier, but I need at least one person. I'd never read Alice Munro before she won last year's Nobel Prize for Literature (*), but from what little I've read so far, she is an astounding, amazing, unique writer - as Cynthia Ozick states in something of a hyperbolic fit: she is "Our Chekhov." Or, as Jonathan Franzen writes:

"Runaway is so good that I don't want to talk about it here. Quotation can't do the book justice, and neither can synopsis. The way to do it justice is to read it ... Which leaves me with the simple instruction that I began with: Read Munro! Read Munro!"

The eight stories are between 33 and 65 pages long, depending on which edition you have. This book is easily found in Barnes and Noble, and can be ordered in paperback from Amazon (the book pictured is the exact edition I have).

Having recently spent some time in Vancouver and Victoria, BC, this book is especially meaningful to me because Munro writes about "little things" from small-town British Columbia (this "Impressionist-like" celebration of local, ordinary life is what inspired Ozick's Chekhov comment, although Munro's laser-like prose is certainly not Impressionistic).

Unlike Shakespeare, we can't copy the text here which is a shame, but it's all we have to work with. 

Who's in? Let's begin with story #1: the eponymous "Runaway."

(*) It's such a shame Eudora Welty passed away before she, herself, won the prize.

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Just borrowed the ebook from the local library, so I'm in for now.  It'll be nice to put my English degree to good use.

Well then, seeing as though we can't reproduce the text here:

A general warning since I don't know what others will write: Every reader should consider every comment from now forward to be a Spoiler unless clearly marked otherwise. 

I urge people to read the first story ("Runaway") before reading the rest of this post. None of the other seven stories will be addressed here, so if you've only read the first story, you're safe to read this.

---

Let's start with the first story, "Runaway."

The question, The Question, is ...

1) Was Flora real? (At first, of course she was, but afterwards?)

Breaking it down further:

2) Did Flora actually appear to Sylvia and Clark?

If the answer to question 2) is "yes" (by no means a given):

3) Did Clark dispose of Flora on the way home?

Also, by no means a given.

In lesser hands, the essential plot of this story could have been a Twilight Zone episode (i.e., cheap, decently written fun and escapism); instead, it turns out to be the biggest Mind Fuck I can remember reading. I've heard Munro described as an author offering up sympathetic, hyper-realistic prose; by no means is that evident in "Runaway," the first story. This story is a psychological thriller, as well as about fifty other things.

I am left haunted by the combinatorics at play in this work. There are so many possibilities here as to what happened, and Munro played her hand brilliantly in leaving each one on the table as the story ends.

When I first purchased this book, I "cheated" by reading the shortest story ("Silence") first. That was a mistake - my gut feeling is that this is a symphony, and these "movements" need to be read in order. I might be wrong about this - time will tell (I purposely haven't read anything but the barest hint of critical discussion about this book because I don't want to spoil it for myself). I would urge you, gentle reader, to follow my instinct and forego these discussions until reading each corresponding story beforehand - I don't think the ordering of the book is random.

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I found this to be a beautifully written story. I particularly like Munro's depiction of the inner turmoil Carla faces, while riding the bus to Toronto and after she returns to Clark.

After seeing your question about whether Clark and Sylvia actually saw Flora, or if it was simply part of Sylvia's dream, I reread that part of the story.  I believe Flora did return and the two witnessed it. I am glad, however, that I read that part of the story again. It is somewhat chilling if you read it and assume Clark is speaking about Carla instead of the goat. Every statement he makes about Flora actually is a commentary on Carla.

I also think Clark did something to Flora. Whether is was something sinister or simply leading her away, I don't know. What he did doesn't matter nearly as much as Carla's reaction to it. Her fear, which she eventually "got used to" and her unsettling resignation that she would never try to find out, are, for me, what makes this an eerily compelling story.

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While I loved the first story, Runaway, I was underwhelmed by the trilogy that followed: Chance, Soon and Silence. The three stories follow the life of a character named Juliet. In the first story, Juliet is a young scholar traveling on a train where she meets Eric, the man who fathers her daughter, Penelope. In the second story, she takes Penelope to her parents' home where her mother is dying. In Silence, the third story, Juliet faces the death of Eric and is abandoned by her beloved Penelope.

I enjoyed Munro's writing style. Some of her phrases and imagery are striking. In Chance, I liked her depiction of putting the thing that was your bright treasure in the closet. Or in Soon, when she writes, "as if misfortunes were something to accumulate, like charms on a bracelet." I loved her description of her dream about her father and Irene: "The dream was suffused with sticky horror. Not the kind of horror that jostles its shape outside your skin, but the kind that curls through the narrowest passages of your blood."

Faith, or the lack of it, is a theme that ties the stories together. Perhaps my disappointment with this trilogy lies in my dislike of Juliet. In the third story, particularly, I found it astonishing that she finally learns of her daughter's whereabouts, but does nothing about it! As a mother, I couldn't stand that!

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Faith, or the lack of it, is a theme that ties the stories together. Perhaps my disappointment with this trilogy lies in my dislike of Juliet. In the third story, particularly, I found it astonishing that she finally learns of her daughter's whereabouts, but does nothing about it! As a mother, I couldn't stand that!

I've finished the trilogy as well (although I read the final story last October as a standalone). I think there is an entire web of common motifs: Juliet herself and her relationships (1. with men 2. with her parents 3. with her daughter), acceptance and rejection, dependence and independence, life and death, and certainly parent-child. I find that in this trilogy, reading it on a surface level does no good, as the "tales" themselves aren't that interesting; it's the underlying literary components that contain both the challenges and the rewards.

Unlike me reviewing restaurants, Munro is not constrained by any sort of "truth" or recounting of events; she can write about anything she chooses. Why, then, did she pick Chagall's "I And The Village" as *The* painting in the second story. I really wish I took notes as I read - the description of the old Pontiac, for example, meant something, and I remember realizing it at the time, but now I can't remember what it means. :) Why did Juliet's father choose to pick her up at the train station twenty miles from town?

There's a lot of meat in this trilogy, plenty of foreshadowing, metaphor (e.g., Sam's relationship with Irene), and everything ties in together. But this is work, not pure pleasure, and it's going to take some digging to uncover which is why I wanted to start this discussion group. I suspect piecing together the inter-story components of this trilogy will make it the most challenging thing in the entire book, like threading together the movements of a Sonata instead of listening to an Impromptu.

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Unlike me reviewing restaurants, Munro is not constrained by any sort of "truth" or recounting of events; she can write about anything she chooses. Why, then, did she pick Chagall's "I And The Village" as *The* painting in the second story.

What's the animal in this painting?

What kind of animal is Flora?

We have not just a trilogy to deal with, but something larger than that.

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I think Munro chose "I and the Village" as the painting in the second story for a number of reasons. Chagall is said to have painted it because it reminded him of his childhood village. It had the same significance for Juliet. The painting also is divided into thirds. Clearly groupings of three are very significant here. There are three stories about Juliet. She is involved in a love triangle with Eric and Christa. She is an only child, and she and Eric have one child.

Looking at the painting, I see her mother, the fair, sweet, fragile goat looking at her father, the man who sells vegetables and is clearly linked to the natural world depicted here. Juliet is the woman milking the goat. The man pursuing the upside down woman represents her father and Irene.

The fact that the print has been removed from the wall symbolizes the changes within her family since her departure and the arrival of Irene. Juliet feels threatened by Irene, and vice versa. "Everything here distracted her. The heat, Irene, the things that were familiar and the things that were unfamiliar. "I and the Village."

It is interesting that Sara is the one to explain that the picture was removed from the wall because of Sam's perception that it would offend Irene. This demonstrates that Sara is aware of how significant Irene is to Sam and has accepted it.

The Pontiac clearly represents Sara. The old gray mare that hasn't given up. The description of the car follows detailed depictions of Sara's declining physical state and Irene's robust youth. Sam says that he would like to trade it in for a truck, and Sara immediately insists he is joking. The relationship between Sam, Irene and Sara, and their interdependence on one another is illustrated here, as well as Juliet's discomfort with the situation.

I think Juliet was picked up at the other train station because her parents were ashamed that she was an unwed mother. Despite their unconventional ways, they were still influenced by the small town values of their village during the 1960s. I think the fact that Juliet was not picked up in her usual spot underscores her discomfort with the changes that have taken place, particularly the arrival of Irene.

Near the end of the second story, why do you think Sara said, "When it gets really bad for me--when it gets so bad--you know what I think of then? I think, all right. I think--Soon. Soon I'll see Juliet."

This is very significant, but why? The story is called "Soon." The last part is italicized.

After Sara's death, Juliet is distraught that she didn't respond to Sara when she said this. What should she have said? Why does she think "she had not protected Sara?" Protected her from what? Why did this bother Juliet so much?

The third story in the trilogy, Silence, ends on such a sad note. Juliet has resigned herself over the years to the fact that Penelope has found a deeper, more spiritual life without her. She has come to accept that this spirituality is what Penelope needs. When it is revealed to her that Penelope is living a typical suburban life, it is more than Juliet can bear.

The Silence in the story becomes not about Penelope's alienation, but Juliet's denial of her. She stops telling her boyfriends that she has a daughter. Juliet cannot accept the rejection. She enjoyed her fantasies about Penelope was living out some mystical life, much like the Greek mythological characters that she loved so much. When this turned out not to be the case, she could not handle it.

"My father used to say of someone he disliked, that he had no use for that person. Couldn't those words simply mean what they say? Penelope does not have use for me. Maybe she can't stand me. It's possible."

I think it would be so interesting to read Penelope's story. The untold story of what really happened here.

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I think Munro chose "I and the Village" as the painting in the second story for a number of reasons. Chagall is said to have painted it because it reminded him of his childhood village. It had the same significance for Juliet. The painting also is divided into thirds. Clearly groupings of three are very significant here. There are three stories about Juliet. She is involved in a love triangle with Eric and Christa. She is an only child, and she and Eric have one child.

Looking at the painting, I see her mother, the fair, sweet, fragile goat looking at her father, the man who sells vegetables and is clearly linked to the natural world depicted here. Juliet is the woman milking the goat. The man pursuing the upside down woman represents her father and Irene.

...

I think Juliet was picked up at the other train station because her parents were ashamed that she was an unwed mother. 

...

Near the end of the second story, why do you think Sara said, "When it gets really bad for me--when it gets so bad--you know what I think of then? I think, all right. I think--Soon. Soon I'll see Juliet."

This is very significant, but why? The story is called "Soon." The last part is italicized.

You're absolutely correct that "groupings of three" are significant here, but you missed a biggie. :)

Chagall is known for his Christian imagery, but not as a Christian (Chagall was Jewish). Many of his works, to me, seem to turn Christianity - and its Holy Trinity - upside down, in this case, perhaps literally.

It is not a coincidence that Juliet's best friend is named Crista, or that Crista's brother's family name is Lamb.

There was no discussion of Juliet and Eric having sex before Penelope was born - in fact, I don't remember *any* discussion of Juliet having sex in this story. Could Juliet indeed be an allegory for the Virgin Mary who lost her child (or, vice-versa)? Note that there's an explicit reference to Eric having had sex with Crista.

There's something in "Runaway," when Flora makes her mystical appearance in the blinding light, that reminds me of The Annunication - a foreshadowing of things to come, in which case it would not be an accident that "Runaway" was placed first in the book, immediately preceding the trilogy. Note that in The Bible, a separate Annunciation to Joseph occurred in a dream, and it's arguable that Sylvia was still in a dream-state when Flora appeared.

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You're absolutely correct that "groupings of three" are significant here, but you missed a biggie. :)

Chagall is known for his Christian imagery, but not as a Christian (Chagall was Jewish). Many of his works, to me, seem to turn Christianity - and its Holy Trinity - upside down, in this case, perhaps literally.

It is not a coincidence that Juliet's best friend is named Crista, or that Crista's brother's family name is Lamb.

There was no discussion of Juliet and Eric having sex before Penelope was born - in fact, I don't remember *any* discussion of Juliet having sex in this story. Could Juliet indeed be an allegory for the Virgin Mary who lost her child (or, vice-versa)? Note that there's an explicit reference to Eric having had sex with Crista.

There's something in "Runaway," when Flora makes her mystical appearance, that reminds me of The Annunication - a foreshadowing of things to come, in which case it would not be an accident that "Runaway" was placed first in the book, immediately preceding the trilogy.

Actually, I did think of the Holy Trinity as well.

There is a description of Eric and Juliet having sex. It is when he returns home and she is waiting for him after his wife's death.

"He advances on her and she feels herself ransacked from top to bottom, flooded with relief, assaulted by happiness. How astonishing this is. How close to dismay."

I liked that passage.

I think if you grouped all three stories together, the underlying theme is rejection. Real and simply perceived. It begins with the man's suicide, apparently because Juliet rejected his friendship, and ends with Juliet being rejected by her daughter.

Rejection is a thread throughout. She feels rejected by Eric when he sleeps with Christa while she is away. She feels rejected by her parents' love of Irene. Her rejection of religion. Her father is rejected from the school where he taught, apparently for defending Juliet's honor. I think on a certain level she felt rejected by Eric because he did not marry her, although she claimed she did not.

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Rejection is a thread throughout. She feels rejected by Eric when he sleeps with Christa while she is away. She feels rejected by her parents' love of Irene. Her rejection of religion. Her father is rejected from the school where he taught, apparently for defending Juliet's honor. I think on a certain level she felt rejected by Eric because he did not marry her, although she claimed she did not.

Peter rejected Jesus thrice. :)

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I really enjoyed the fifth story, Passion. I am looking forward to discussing it.

And in keeping with our Biblical theme, the next two stories are "Passion" and "Trespasses."

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I really liked the fifth story, Passion.

In Christianity, the Passion (translated from Greek, to suffer), refers to the short, final period in the life of Jesus. Similarly, this story deals with the final hours in the life of Neil, the alcoholic, despondent brother of Grace's fiancé. The Biblical theme is further illustrated in the central character's name: Grace. And, when Neil's wife Mavis is being bratty during an after-dinner word game, Gretchen, her sister-in-law says, "What fun. Jesus wept."

Grace, who feels no passion for her fiancé, despite acting as if she does, is drawn to Neil. She misinterprets his intentions that afternoon, wishing his longing were for her. At some point she realizes that Neil is doomed, yet she can't tear herself away. She sees a darkness in him that she recognizes in herself. "..and in the middle of that she had come on this rock-bottom truth. This lack of hope--genuine, reasonable, and everlasting."

"She'd thought it was touch. Mouths, tongues, skin, bodies, banging bone on bone. Inflammation. Passion. But that wasn't what had been meant for them at all. That was child's play, compared to how she knew him, how far she'd seen into him, now."

This story drew me in from the start, talking about going back to visit a place you once knew and fearing you'd find in changed, or worse, not changed at all. Grace, who is supposedly falling in love with Maury, is in fact falling in love with his family, his lifestyle, his home and, particularly, his mother.

A theme I have noticed in all five stories is that one's perception of home is a shifting thing. Grace struggles with thoughts of returning to her aunt and uncle's home, caning chairs for the rest of her life. It is a place that never felt like home to her. When Maury speaks of marriage, she is delighted by the idea of traveling with him, but bristles at the idea of building a home together.

This theme is central to "Runaway" and the trio, as well. In "Runaway," Carla comes to the very sad conclusion that home for her must include Carl. Flora, the little goat, tries, unsuccessfully, to find her way home. Juliet, in the trio, realizes on her visit to see her dying mother that home for her now is with Eric in Whale Bay. For Penelope, home is far away from Juliet.

Munro's writing is exquisite in this story, with beautiful passages I read over and over again.

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Faith, or the lack of it, is a theme that ties the stories together. Perhaps my disappointment with this trilogy lies in my dislike of Juliet. In the third story, particularly, I found it astonishing that she finally learns of her daughter's whereabouts, but does nothing about it! As a mother, I couldn't stand that!

Interesting,  I didn't like Juliet, either, but I felt like Juliet's "doing nothing about it" redeemed her.  She finally was able to accept the reality of the situation and did what she thought Penelope would want her to do - leave her alone.  Quite a selfless act.

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Interesting,  I didn't like Juliet, either, but I felt like Juliet's "doing nothing about it" redeemed her.  She finally was able to accept the reality of the situation and did what she thought Penelope would want her to do - leave her alone.  Quite a selfless act.

The way you describe it, I see even more Christian imagery here (I guess for that to hold, letting go of the child would have to somehow redeem everyone else).

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Interesting,  I didn't like Juliet, either, but I felt like Juliet's "doing nothing about it" redeemed her.  She finally was able to accept the reality of the situation and did what she thought Penelope would want her to do - leave her alone.  Quite a selfless act.

I didn't think of it that way, but it makes sense. Particularly since she knew Penelope was safe and probably happy, so she didn't need to worry about her anymore.

Still, there was something about Juliet's personality that made me feel that the act, while selfless, was also motivated by her fear of rejection. Juliet was overly concerned about what other people thought of her, and I think she was terrified to confront her daughter and hear the reason why she left. Juliet knew in her heart why Penelope rejected her, but I don't think she could face hearing it from her.

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Interesting,  I didn't like Juliet, either, but I felt like Juliet's "doing nothing about it" redeemed her.  She finally was able to accept the reality of the situation and did what she thought Penelope would want her to do - leave her alone.  Quite a selfless act.

I am curious: have you read the rest of the book? I would love to know what you think about the women in the remaining stories. While I didn't care for Juliet, I really liked many of the other characters in the book. I think Munro is a master at portraying the thoughts and feelings of women.

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Still working on it.  I've read through "Trespasses".  Mixed feelings.  I don't really relate to any of the characters, but I'm enjoying Munro as a wordsmith.  She sometimes can sum up an entire range of emotions or lifetime of experience in one small, carefully crafted phrase.  At the moment I can't think of an example, though.

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She sometimes can sum up an entire range of emotions or lifetime of experience in one small, carefully crafted phrase.  At the moment I can't think of an example, though.

I think that, to some degree, these two sentences sum up Munro.

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Still working on it. I've read through "Trespasses". Mixed feelings. I don't really relate to any of the characters, but I'm enjoying Munro as a wordsmith.

I agree with you on that one. I didn't relate to the characters in Trespasses, and it was one of my least favorite stories in the book. The seventh story, Tricks, however, is my hands-down favorite. I can't wait to see what the two of you think of that one.

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She sometimes can sum up an entire range of emotions or lifetime of experience in one small, carefully crafted phrase.  At the moment I can't think of an example, though.

I agree. This is something she does extremely well.

To me, a perfect example are these lines about Carla in Runaway: "It was as if she had a murderous needle somewhere in her lung, and by breathing carefully, she could avoid feeling it. But every once in a while she had to take a deep breath, and it was still there."

I think this captures precisely the feelings of someone trying to survive day to day in a bad marriage.

I also need to clarify my comment about Tricks. It is my favorite story because I connected with it on an emotional level. However, I think Passion and Runaway are better written.

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I agree with you on that one. I didn't relate to the characters in Trespasses, and it was one of my least favorite stories in the book. The seventh story, Tricks, however, is my hands-down favorite. I can't wait to see what the two of you think of that one.

Now I've read everything through "Tricks."  That was tragic.  I'm having a hard time summing up my feelings about Munro's women; they seem very distant, even though they're well fleshed out.  If there's a single one I can relate to at all it's Lauren in "Trespasses" (which might've been my least favorite story).

I agree. This is something she does extremely well.

To me, a perfect example are these lines about Carla in Runaway: "It was as if she had a murderous needle somewhere in her lung, and by breathing carefully, she could avoid feeling it. But every once in a while she had to take a deep breath, and it was still there."

I think this captures precisely the feelings of someone trying to survive day to day in a bad marriage.

I also need to clarify my comment about Tricks. It is my favorite story because I connected with it on an emotional level. However, I think Passion and Runaway are better written.

Nice choice of quote from "Runaway".  Probably agree with your last sentence.

Does Munro often set the story in the present, then spend most of the time developing the back story?  There's a certain sameness to many of the stories, stemming partly from this technique.  Also, the volume could have been titled Regrets....

This is not my usual taste in fiction, but I'm glad to have expanded my horizons by giving it a try, which I did only because of the discussion in this thread.  So, thanks. :)

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Now I've read everything through "Tricks."  That was tragic.  I'm having a hard time summing up my feelings about Munro's women; they seem very distant, even though they're well fleshed out.  If there's a single one I can relate to at all it's Lauren in "Trespasses" (which might've been my least favorite story).

Nice choice of quote from "Runaway".  Probably agree with your last sentence.

Does Munro often set the story in the present, then spend most of the time developing the back story?  There's a certain sameness to many of the stories, stemming partly from this technique.  Also, the volume could have been titled Regrets....

This is not my usual taste in fiction, but I'm glad to have expanded my horizons by giving it a try, which I did only because of the discussion in this thread.  So, thanks.  :)

Have you read Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri? It a similar collection of stories, beautifully written with themes of loss and regret, yet to me, her characters are more fleshed out than Munro's characters. It was her debut work, and she won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 2000. It is one of my four favorite books.

I was curious to see if there was a connection between the two, and indeed, Lahiri says Munro is one of her heroes. I found an article in which a young writer lamented that Lahiri's critically acclaimed novels that followed Interpreter of Maladies lacked something found in her first book. Rohin Guha wrote about Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, "It was as wonderful as an Alice Munro book: A collection of well-constructed sentences, embedded with a modicum of anguish, and the vague sense that important things were happening, but without any real urgency."

You are right, there is a sameness to all of the stories. Regret, loss, searching for a sense of home and the dealing with the expectations placed on women of a certain era--are themes Munro repeats throughout these stories.

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I really liked the fifth story, Passion.

In Christianity, the Passion (translated from Greek, to suffer), refers to the short, final period in the life of Jesus. Similarly, this story deals with the final hours in the life of Neil, the alcoholic, despondent brother of Grace's fiancé. The Biblical theme is further illustrated in the central character's name: Grace. And, when Neil's wife Mavis is being bratty during an after-dinner word game, Gretchen, her sister-in-law says, "What fun. Jesus wept."

Grace, who feels no passion for her fiancé, despite acting as if she does, is drawn to Neil. She misinterprets his intentions that afternoon, wishing his longing were for her. At some point she realizes that Neil is doomed, yet she can't tear herself away. She sees a darkness in him that she recognizes in herself. "..and in the middle of that she had come on this rock-bottom truth. This lack of hope--genuine, reasonable, and everlasting."

"She'd thought it was touch. Mouths, tongues, skin, bodies, banging bone on bone. Inflammation. Passion. But that wasn't what had been meant for them at all. That was child's play, compared to how she knew him, how far she'd seen into him, now."

This story drew me in from the start, talking about going back to visit a place you once knew and fearing you'd find in changed, or worse, not changed at all. Grace, who is supposedly falling in love with Maury, is in fact falling in love with his family, his lifestyle, his home and, particularly, his mother.

A theme I have noticed in all five stories is that one's perception of home is a shifting thing. Grace struggles with thoughts of returning to her aunt and uncle's home, caning chairs for the rest of her life. It is a place that never felt like home to her. When Maury speaks of marriage, she is delighted by the idea of traveling with him, but bristles at the idea of building a home together.

This theme is central to "Runaway" and the trio, as well. In "Runaway," Carla comes to the very sad conclusion that home for her must include Carl. Flora, the little goat, tries, unsuccessfully, to find her way home. Juliet, in the trio, realizes on her visit to see her dying mother that home for her now is with Eric in Whale Bay. For Penelope, home is far away from Juliet.

Munro's writing is exquisite in this story, with beautiful passages I read over and over again.

I am *so* glad you wrote this because I finished "Passion" a couple of days ago, and (other than the obvious metaphor), it went right over my head - I had forgotten you wrote about it here in such detail. Much appreciated!

(Were Grace and Maury actually engaged? I thought Grace denied that she would marry Maury.)

Anyway, I labored through this story, and got very little payoff. I'd like to think I'm a fairly sophisticated connoisseur of literature, but some of the things in Passion I simply don't understand. The $1,000 check, for example - what the hell? Is this some sort of Judas/gold-coin/born-again thing? There are many, many other examples of this. The brick steps going up the wooden house in a zig-zag. Grace falling asleep after Neil goes into the third house (there's that "three" thing again). The fact that Neil's last name is Borrow. Grace cutting her foot after jumping off the swing (is this supposed to be nailed-to-the-cross imagery?) And even if these things are all Christian metaphor - so what?

This may sound dimwitted, but her subtleties are lost on me in this particular story. So far I've read several analyses of the story, and all they've done is summarize the plot. What the hell kind of review is this? The person just rewrote the story!

I *know* Munro didn't write all these things randomly, but I'll be darned if I can figure out what they mean. I have a friend whose initials are "TT" and who imports German Wine. :) He devours books, and reads as much as anyone I've ever known. He is one of the few people whose opinion I've sought who simply does not love Munro, and I'm starting to wander into his camp.

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