cover image Dear Life: Stories

Dear Life: Stories

Alice Munro, read by Kimberly Farr and Arthur Morey. Random House Audio, unabridged, eight CDs, 10 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-0-307-93936-4

This audio production presents 14 new stories from Munro, whom Booklist called “the best short-story writer in English today.” Despite the author’s often-brilliant source material, Farr and Morey’s performances are uninspired. There is a quiet desperation to Munro’s characters, a sense that the “dear life” of the title does not refer to life’s beauty, but to its harried restlessness—as in, “holding on for dear life.” In conveying this desperation, both narrators lack subtlety, though Morey does a standout job with the laconic protagonist of “Train,” a man who repeatedly hides from conflict and self-exposure. Because the stories and characters are so different from one another—sharing only their Canadian settings—this audio edition might have benefited from additional narrators. As presented here, the stories and characters bleed into one another, the narrators’ voices barely changing from one piece to the next. A Knopf hardcover. (Nov.)