I chose Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage as my first book for the Summer of the Canadian Short Story event hosted by WriteReads. Recent Nobel Prize in Literature winner and celebrated author, Alice Munro, seemed an obvious must-read. I had an inkling of what some of the stories were about because of movies like Away From Her and Hateship, Loveship, but this is the first time I’ve read anything by her.
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is a collection nine stories that explores the complexity of relationships; such as between spouses, lovers, friends, siblings and within families. Probably the best known story is The Bear Came Over the Mountain which was published in The New Yorker magazine twice (1999 and 2013) and adapted into the film Away From Her.
Alice Munro’s portrayal of women and men (mostly women) tangled up in conflicting feelings as they navigate their relationships is timeless. She captures the challenges of everyday people dealing with class, debt, family, sex, adultery, illness, death and new beginnings, with all the raw emotion that accompanies these trials of life.
As interesting as the stories are in Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, I often had a sense of déjà vu, as some stories seemed interchangeable, with characters, settings and themes similar to a story elsewhere in the collection. I realize that Alice Munro is writing what she knows and wants to talk about, but I couldn’t help but notice the repetition.
Reading Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage has left me wondering if the short story format is for me. I got so immersed in the lives and emotions of Munro’s characters, I sometimes felt left hanging when the story ended and I hadn’t been able to penetrate the deeper meaning of what the character(s) had experienced. The stories I liked better were the ones that had some significant conclusion. Overall, I think this collection was a great introduction to Alice Munro’s writing. I certainly will be thinking about these stories for years to come.
Do you prefer short stories or novels? What Canadian short story collection should I read next?