No Advantages by Alice MunroOctober 28, 2009
I can hardly believe this, but it took me three nights to read this short story. I read it for a few minutes every night before I went to sleep, but it took me three nights! Crazy.
When this book originally came out, I decided to wait for the paperback release because I had just discovered Munro (through the excellent story collection Open Secrets) and I figured that she had dozens of other story collections that I had yet to read. This turned out to be a bad idea, as the cover for the paperback book is horrid and has a headless woman on it. So when I saw this hardcover in the remainders section of my local bookstore, I snatched it up.
Munro introduces this collection by warning the reader that these stories are different than her typical works based in Canada. Instead, these stories are much more personal and focus on Munro’s research into her family history, going as far back as Scotland in the 1500s. The result, judging only from the first story, is something interesting but also odd. No Advantages felt like reading a blog entry about someone’s genealogy hobby. But still, the writing was excellent and the characters were amusing, even if it felt a bit like a history lesson. I am looking forward to reading more of the stories in this collection, especially because the second half of the book is supposed to focus more on stories that weren’t about family history but simply felt more personal to Munro.