Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995 – 2014
by Alice Munro
Knopf (2014)
784 pp

When I heard that a collection of Munro’s stories was going to be released this month, I was hoping beyond hope that it would be a “selected and new” collection, meaning that at least one of the stories was something we’d never seen before. That’s not the case, but Family Furnishings (2014) is a great collection of Munro’s last twenty years of writing, a nice follow up to 1996’s Selected Stories. If you’re looking to get to know Alice Munro, this is an excellent introduction and contains many of my favorites.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here too much — only a few dozen times is all — but Alice Munro is in my group of top two writers, alongside William Trevor. These two have changed me a great deal, and this collection will I hope help others come to know Alice Munro’s work.

Interestingly, there is still no Munro collection that contains one of my favorite Munro stories, “Axis,” which was published in The New Yorker in January 2011. Does that mean there another book in the works? Probably not. And, given the wealth on display here and in her collections it feels greedy to want more from someone who has given so much, and who has given us so much that grants so much wealth on a first read or during revisits.

This collection comes with a foreword by Jane Smiley, and I think her opening statement is exceptional:

In 1971, Alice Munro published her second book, Lives of Girls and Women. Sometimes, I read the title as an assertion of the importance of the lives of girls and women, and sometimes I read the title as a self-effacing acknowledgment, or even a warning — these are only the lives of girls and women — don’t bother to read about them if you don’t care. And in this paradox resides the literary career of a great writer who is simultaneously strange and down-to-earth, daring and straightforward.

Since Betsy and I are going through Munro’s work story-by-story chronologically, I am not going to put a traditional review here. I want you to know what stories are in this collection, and I’ve linked to the ones that have already been reviewed on this site. We’ll be covering these, individually, in a while — I’m currently working on my final posts for Munro’s third collection, Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You.

Here are the contents of Family Furnishings.

  • From The Love of a Good Woman (1998)
    • The Love of a Good Woman
    • Jakarta
    • The Children Stay
    • My Mother’s Dream
  • From Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001)
  • From The View from Castle Rock (2006)
    • The View from Castle Rock
    • Working for a Living
    • Hired Girl
    • Home
  • From Runaway (2004)
    • Runaway
    • Soon
    • Passion
  • From Too Much Happiness (2009)
    • Dimensions
    • Wood
    • Child’s Play
    • Too Much Happiness
  • From Dear Life (2012)
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