Books: Quiet Virtues

Superb short stories about stoic women

The chronically depressed market for the short story has not discouraged Alice Munro, who, with the publication of The Love of a Good Woman (Knopf; 340 pages; $24), now has 10 volumes of stories to her credit. But it's Munro's quality, not quantity, that puts her in the company of today's most accomplished writers of fiction at any length.

Three virtues distinguish Munro's work. First, she packs more life into 30 pages than most novelists get into 300. And she does it writing about her native region, homely farm-town Ontario. Second, she moves her characters through time and space with the...

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