Books: Amplitudes the Progress of Love

by Alice Munro Knopf; 309 pages; $16.95

In her fifth collection of short stories, Alice Munro, 55, continues to buck the genre's fashionable trend toward miniaturization and microplots. Her characters stubbornly refuse to trudge like zombies through brief but nonetheless tedious interludes. They do not act like literary artifacts or wan verbal gestures toward ennui. They behave, instead, as if they had all the time and space imaginable to lead and ponder their complicated lives. Each of the eleven pieces in The Progress of Love seems to contain enough material for a fair-sized novel; Munro's art of compression emphasizes amplitudes rather than economies.

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