The Nobel committee should have taken note of this amazingly and brilliantly written collection of short stories by Alice Munro. Runaway is easily one of the most readable and yet, one of the deepest collection of essays that I have ever read.
In Runaway, Munro takes on the challenging themes of love, its trials and tribulations, its shocks, and, indeed, love’s sometimes treasonous behaviors. It also deals with family, the relationships between family members and the inability to deal with one’s problems.
It is oftentimes very difficult for authors to fully develop characters and plots when they are using the short story form; there is usually not enough space or time in which to adequately develop a character and have them undergo a transformation in the span of pages. And Munro’s writing style, at first glance, will lead the reader to believe that her characters and her plots are not going anywhere.
That is all very, very deceptive. In fact, these stories are very much like a delicate flower that the reader must curl up with. As the reader settles in and carefully peels back the layers, the characters and the stories keep presenting the reader with life lessons. These are life lessons that are often not the most brilliant or earth shattering things; they are lessons that anyone can relate to. However, Munro is brilliant in her delivery of those lessons.
Her characters are everyday people, trying to get by in their lives and trying to deal with decisions that they have made, which other characters may or may not agree with, much like we exist in making our own decisions in our daily lives.
What I also loved was that the main characters were so different; they were each so human, in their own unique way. They all had some parts that were similar to each other and some parts that were extremely different. For instance, there were women that were weak, where others were strong.
Some were intuitive and courageous, while others were timorous and obtuse. These characters were not made to be superheroes; they were the everyday men and women that you or I could meet while grocery shopping or going to the movies. They are men and women that we could relate to in their struggles to understand love and their relationships.
In my opinion, the most powerful story was the story that the collection got its name from: “Runaway.” In this story, Munro tells the story of a woman who is attempting to leave her abusive husband with the help of a girlfriend and what happens when the woman’s husband finds out. It looks, in depth, at the runaway’s feelings and motivations and decisions. I loved it wholeheartedly!
Munro’s stories, while not flashy, gaudy or ostentatious. Her stories and their characters are beautiful exactly because of their simplicity. They are multi-layered and multi-faceted. There is a lot of depth. This is an author not to be underestimated.