I think that it is everyone’s secret dream to one day receive the Nobel Prize in, at least, one category. Personally, I am thinking discoveries in physics and medicine would be my achievements. Now, however, since I have taken the time to read a Nobel Prize winner in literature, I will give all writers out there some help to fulfill your secret dream!

Number 1: ♪“O Canada! Our home and native land...”♪ Munro’s stories are set in Canada, and so should yours if your goal is to attend the festivities in the Blue Hall on December 10th. It doesn’t matter if it’s in one of the bigger cities or in a little village where everyone knows everyone. The important thing here, is that we don’t miss out on the Rocky Mountains’ high peaks, the little stream flowing near the main character’s childhood home’s garden, or simply the Canadian atmosphere.

Number 2: Keep it short, please. Munro shows us that a story doesn’t have to be four hundred pages to be a bestseller. Hers are around twenty five, and yet she writes whole live stories. I am not saying that longer books are equal to bad books, but that words should not be wasted.

Number 3: Don’t leave out any trains! Travelling by train is both environmentally friendly and quick. It’s the ultimate vehicle for a book. As if the already mentioned advantages weren’t enough, you also get to meet a lot new people on a train, which you can interact with, without risking an accident (as in a car). I am glad that Munro is making sustainable choices for the environment, even in her fiction world.

Follow these simple steps and the Nobel Committee won’t take long to get in touch! Until next week I expect you to implement these suggestions into your own book!

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I have now finished reading the big finale of the book. The last story, out of fourteen, delivered as expected. The whole collection has been given its name by this short story, namely Dear Life.

What I mean with “delivered as expected” is that it’s very similar to all previous stories. The story centers around a Canadian woman’s very (not) interesting life.

Sometimes in life, people are too negative. The reason, I guess, is that they don’t want to be disappointed. They have a point since thinking negatively either results in that you are positively surprised, or that you are right. Now, however, I’m going to tell you what I liked about Dear Life (the story).

In this story some completely irrelevant things are presented, things that don’t have any further part in the story. At first you might ask yourself “why?”, but you won’t be unknowing for long. Munro has a plan with everything she writes, and we are told, “this is not a story, only life”. Very smart, and it also goes very well with the title!

To all negative people out there:
Yes, it feels good to be right, and a happy surprise is never wrong, but you are missing out on life! Things never get better than you make them. The result is not the only part of the experience.

Think happy, be happy! See you next week!

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First of all, since I assume that you all are ecstatic to start reading Dear Life, I want to tell you that many of the short stories can be read in the New Yorker! I recommend you to visit their website (www.newyorker.com) and search for that particular story that you want to read.

The stories written by Munro provide a complexity like nowhere else. The events of which they consist, are not about cheesy love trouble. They are, in fact, deep and clearly thought-out. If you listen to what Munro herself thinks about writing, it becomes clear, though, that these magical events are not supposed to have all of our attention. She says in an interview: “What happens as event doesn’t really much matter. When the event becomes the thing that matters, the story isn’t working too well. There has to be a feeling in the story.” That’s wise words from a wonderful writer.

We are now in the middle of Holy Week and because of that, I will take a break from Dear Life, and instead read about the Passion! Happy Easter everyone!

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Before I started to read this book I imagined most short stories to be focused on one specific character and one particular event. Due to those simple conditions a short story should be easily read, since you, as a reader, would not be forced to learn thousands of names and keep track of millions of different occupations. That’s not how Munro sees the thing. She wants to include as many people as possible in each story. Sometimes it doesn’t work (I had to read the first two stories twice, to understand how everything was connected), but sometimes, in some magical way, it does. For example in Leaving Marvely. Even though many characters are introduced it’s still easy to follow the story line. When it is done as in Leaving Marvely, many parallels really emblazon the story, and as I have said before, I like smart connections.

One more thing that I like about Munro’s writing is that she uses just the right amount of descriptions. Some books have too many descriptions. In some books they don’t have time to catch the thief because the 500 pages contain details of how the colour of the English breakfast tea changes when milk is added.

Until next week: Don’t forget to be owlsome!

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The next story picks up at the same place as the last one ended, videlicet at a train station in Toronto. I really like when there are connections between different books. While the new main character is introduced, Greta and the man from the writer’s party (see my last blog post) could be reuniting only a few metres away. At least that was the way I pictured it. Munro herself has said that reading should be like moving through a house and making connections between one enclosed space and another. I found that parable very interesting and worth contemplating (mostly because I haven’t figured out what it actually means yet).

In the middle of the story my world fell apart (not literally speaking though). The reason for this breakdown was the time, which was shown to be as complex as Albert Einstein once presented it to be. During the first third of the book I thought the story was taking place in modern times, when it actually takes place during the Second World War. I don’t know exactly what made me realize my mistake about time, but it might have been the soldiers on the train, the main character working as a teacher in a sanitarium for tuberculosis, or the fact that when she sees some figs and dates in someone's pocket she takes for granted that they are stolen.

“I considered the ethics of stealing from a thief.” That’s what she is thinking when she finds the figs and dates. That’s also something you all can think about until next week!

The story’s name is Amundsen.

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14 days later and I have read 31 pages in my book. The first short story in Dear Life wasn’t the best thing that I have ever read, but not the worst either. The story takes place in a train in which a woman called Greta and her daughter are travelling. In the opening scene they wave their husband/father goodbye. Then follows a long background story. You find out that Greta writes poetry and is not completely satisfied with her husband. At a writer’s party a couple of months previously she met another man of whom she hasn’t been able to stop thinking ever since. She only knows two things about him:

  1. He lives in Toronto.
  2. He writes in a certain newspaper.

She didn’t know if he felt the same for her and therefore she sent a letter with the time and place for her arrival in Toronto to his newspaper’s office. My favorite quote from the story is about this letter:

“To write this letter is like putting a note in a bottle

And hoping

It will reach Japan”

Well, that’s the reason that she’s on the train (even if that's not what she tells her husband). The train ride from Vancouver to Toronto takes DAYS, and during that time Greta meets yet another man and she also loses her daughter for a while, but finds her in the little space between two of the train’s cars. The whole daughter thing is a weird sidetrack which doesn’t fit into the story at all.

When they finally reach Toronto the man from the writer’s party is waiting for them. In conclusion you can say that the note in the bottle did reach Japan!

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The reason that I am writing in English here on the blog is because this is an English assignment. Usually I prefer Swedish before English eight days a week. The main reason is that I am much better in Swedish, but I also think that Swedish is a much more beautiful language than English. I am really interested in languages overall and like to learn new ones. Learning new languages opens up new possibilities in communication and knowledge. Sometimes I wonder why we have different languages. Wouldn’t it be easier to have one, and only one, global world language instead? The refugee crises wouldn't be a problem to the same extent, if we had a global world language. The Syrian refugees would easily be able to join Swedish society if the barrier of language weren’t a problem. At the same time, though, I guess that language is such a big part of our history, culture and identity that it impossibly can be excluded from our world.

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My next reading project is Dear Life which was written by Alice Munro. The only reason I chose this book was that it was written by a Nobel Prize winner. Munro received the prize in 2013 with the simple motivation: "Master of the contemporary short story." She has almost only published collections of short stories and such is Dear Life. I have actually read some short stories from one of Munro’s other books, Too Much Happiness. In ninth grade I wrote a short story called Splittrad familj which was inspired by Fiction from Too Much Happiness. My expectations of this book are quite high since Munro is supposed to be a master in short story writing, but I also think that this book might be hard for me to understand because books that become famous usually are weird.

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