Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are?


Book - 2006
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Penguin Putnam
Rose and her stepmother, Flo, live in Hanratty-across the bridge from the "good" part of town. Rose, alternately fascinated and appalled by the rude energy of the people around her, grows up nursing her hope of outgrowing her humble beginnings and plotting an escape to university.

Rose makes her escape and thinks herself free. But Hanratty's question-Who Do You Think You Are?-rings in her ears during her days in Vancouver, mocks her attempts to make her marriage successful, and haunts her new career.

In these stories of Rose and Flo, Alice Munro explores the universal story of growing up-Rose's struggle to accept herself tells the story of our lives.

Publisher: Toronto : Penguin Canada, 2006, c1978
ISBN: 9780143054955
Branch Call Number: FIC MUN
Characteristics: xiii, 219 p. ;,20 cm.


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Jan 28, 2017

This was a unique and powerful set of stories tracing the life of Rose from early adulthood to middle age, with all the in between stuff (courtship, marriage, children, affairs, divorce, death of parents and contemporaries). Each story has at least one passage, perhaps only two sentences, or a long paragraph, that illuminates a profound insight (eg., the long paragraph near the end of the last story that uses the concept of translation). My favorite stories from this set are "The Wild Swans", "Simon's Luck", and "Royal Beatings".

Aug 21, 2015

I had avoided Alice Munro's work for years, possibly due to some (probably contrarian and wrong-headed) antipathy toward highly regarded "can-lit". And when I started upon Munroe's series of stories beginning with "Royal Beatings" and concluding with "Who Do You Think You Are?" all of which encompass the various stages of the life of one character, Rose, I recall wondering what all the fuss was about. Another tiresome account of a woman who seems to drift through life, often self-destructive, making poor decisions, chasing after hopeless dreams, whatever. Skillfully written, to be sure, but in the end rather dreary. To some degree, Munro's work, even though it's all short stories, has much in common with that of Margaret Laurence: hapless lead characters leading lives of quiet desperation. This is definitely not entertaining stuff to read.
But Munro somehow grows on you, even when her characters do not. She really hit her stride with the second-last story in that series called "Spelling". Her depiction of the sightless, infantile Auntie at the seniors' home, somehow creating an existence within herself by endlessly spelling words is at once horrible and mesmerizing. Munro's exploration of Rose's serenely tragic, mutually judgmental relationship with her half-brother Brian is shockingly insightful and real to anyone who has struggled to gain the approval of one's own family. The scene where Brian voices his contempt for the lives of people like Rose, whom he regards as frivolous, woolly-headed, pretentious lays bare Rose's own self-doubts: "Rose did not know if he spoke the truth or if this was something he had to say in front of her. He offered the bait of his low-voiced contempt; she rose to it." Brilliant writing!

debwalker Oct 10, 2013

October 10, 2013: The 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Canadian author Alice Munro, "master of the contemporary short story"!

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