Books: How to Write A Short Story

An old master gives us an exemplary what-not-to-do list in her new book

Alice Munro spins tales that show us, again and again, and with wondrous grace, how much can be done in a simple short story. Yet the 74-year-old Canadian does it by breaking every rule ever taught in a writing seminar, setting up a master class along the sidelines. Her latest--her 11th--collection of stories, The View from Castle Rock (Knopf; 349 pages), marks a departure from her usual examinations of women in rural Canada leaving home to remake their possibilities by drawing instead on family documents, historical records (from 19th century Scotland) and what feels like memoir to piece together, in 12 parts,...

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