9780307390349

Too Much Happiness

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780307390349

  • ISBN10:

    0307390349

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 11/2/2010
  • Publisher: Vintage

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Summary

Ten superb new stories by one of our most beloved and admired writers—the winner of the 2009 Man Booker International Prize.

With clarity and ease, Alice Munro once again renders complex, difficult events and emotions into stories about the unpredictable ways in which men and women accommodate and often transcend what happens in their lives.

In the first story a young wife and mother, suffering from the unbearable pain of losing her three children, gains solace from a most surprising source. In another, a young woman, in the aftermath of an unusual and humiliating seduction, reacts in a clever if less-than-admirable fashion. Other tales uncover the “deep-holes” in a marriage, the unsuspected cruelty of children, and, in the long title story, the yearnings of a nineteenth-century female mathematician.

“Richly detailed and dense with psychological observation. . . . Munro exhibits a remarkable gift for transforming the seemingly artless into art . . . She concentrates upon provincial, even backcountry lives, in tales of domestic tragicomedy that seem to open up, as if by magic, into wider, deeper, vaster dimensions.” —Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books

“As always in her distinctive stories, Alice Munro’s style is vivid, her attention tireless, her curiosity omnivorous, and her sentences drawn from the freshest of springs.” —The Washington Post

“Few writers can match the clarity and immediacy of Munro’s descriptions whether she is portraying a subsiding marriage, a treacherous childhood, or the erotic and intellectual sojourn of a 19th century Russian mathematician.” — The Boston Globe

“More than virtually anyone else’s, Alice Munro’s stories unfold in surprising ways that nonetheless seem perfectly right. They are marvels of unhurried compression in which precision looks casual, in which everything is clearly in its place, though no one else might think to put it exactly thus.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

Author Biography

Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has published eleven new collections of stories-Dance of the Happy Shades; Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You; The Beggar Maid; The Moons of Jupiter; The Progress of Love; Friend of My Youth; Open Secrets; The Love of a Good Woman; Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage; Runaway; and a volume of Selected Stories-as well as a novel, Lives of Girls and Women. During her distinguished career she has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including the Man Booker International Prize, three of Canada's Governor General's Literary Awards and two of its Giller Prizes, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Lannan Literary Award, England's W. H. Smith Book Award, the United States' National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Edward MacDowell Medal in literature. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and other publications, and her collections have been translated into thirteen languages.

Alice Munro divides her time between Clinton, Ontario, near Lake Huron, and Comox, British Columbia.

Excerpts

Too Much Happiness

Many persons who have not studied mathematics confuse it
with arithmetic and consider it a dry and arid science.
Actually, however, this science requires great fantasy.

—Sophia Kovalevsky

i

On the first day of January, in the year 1891, a small woman and a large man are walking in the Old Cemetery, in Genoa. Both
of them are around forty years old. The woman has a childishly large head, with a thicket of dark curls, and her expression is eager, faintly pleading. Her face has begun to look worn. The man is immense. He weighs 285 pounds, distributed over a large frame, and being Russian, he is often referred to as a bear, also as a Cossack. At present he is crouching over tombstones and writing in his notebook, collecting inscriptions and puzzling over abbreviations not immediately clear to him, though he speaks Russian, French, English, Italian and has an understanding of classical and medieval Latin. His knowledge is as expansive as his physique, and though his speciality is governmental law, he is capable of lecturing on the growth of contemporary political institutions in America, the peculiarities of society in Russia and the West, and the laws and practices of ancient empires. But he is not a pedant. He is witty and popular, at ease on various levels, and able to live a most comfortable life, due to his properties near Kharkov. He has, however, been forbidden to hold an academic post in Russia, because of being a Liberal.

His name suits him. Maksim. Maksim Maksimovich Kovalevsky.

The woman with him is also a Kovalevsky. She was married to a distant cousin of his, but is now a widow.

She speaks to him teasingly.

“You know that one of us will die,” she says. “One of us will die this year.”

Only half listening, he asks her, Why is that?

“Because we have gone walking in a graveyard on the first day of the New Year.”

“Indeed.”

“There are still a few things you don’t know,” she says in her pert but anxious way. “I knew that before I was eight years old.”

“Girls spend more time with kitchen maids and boys in the

stables—I suppose that is why.”

“Boys in the stables do not hear about death?”

“Not so much. Concentration is on other things.”

There is snow that day but it is soft. They leave melted, black footprints where they’ve walked.



She met him for the first time in 1888. He had come to Stockholm to advise on the foundation of a school of social sciences. Their shared nationality, going so far as a shared family name, would have thrown them together even if there was no particular attraction. She would have had a responsibility to entertain and generally take care of a fellow Liberal, unwelcome at home.

But that turned out to be no duty at all. They flew at each other as if they had indeed been long-lost relatives. A torrent of jokes and questions followed, an immediate understanding, a rich gabble of Russian, as if the languages of Western Europe had been flimsy formal cages in which they had been too long confined, or paltry substitutes for true human speech. Their behavior, as well, soon overflowed the proprieties of Stockholm.

He stayed late at her apartment. She went alone to lunch with him at his hotel. When he hurt his leg in a mishap on the ice, she helped him with the soaking and dressing and, what was more, she told people about it. She was so sure of herself then, and especially sure of him. She wrote a description of him to a friend, borrowing from De Musset.

He is very joyful, and at the same time very gloomy—
Disagreeable neighbor, excellent comrade—
Extremely light-minded, and yet very affected—
Indignantly naïve, nevertheless very blasé—
Terribl

Excerpted from Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Amazing stories April 20, 2011
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I was captivated by all of the stories in this collection. My favorite story from this collection is "Dimensions" - a very chilling tale of dealing with a tragic personal loss. As a mother myself I found it heartbreaking to read and yet somehow uplifting as well. There is light at the end of every tunnel although maybe the light has a different quality than before entering the tunnel. I recommend this cheap textbook for all and ecampus for purchasing, I bought a lot of stuff from ecampus and they always deliver it fast and in great condition. I have never had any problems with ecampus.
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