CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Pfaus, B.

Ottawa, Golden Dog press. c1984. 97pp, paper, $6.95, ISBN 0-919614-53-1.

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Alan Thomas

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

Since there is no better writer working in Canada today than Alice Munro, critical writing which helps to introduce and elucidate her stories is always to be welcomed. This short and straightforward book surveys Munro's five major collections of stories, from Dance of the Happy Shades (Ryerson 1968) to The Moons of Jupiter (Macmillan 1982). In its content this study will prove useful to the many high school and university students now reading Munro. As a critic Pfaus shows common-sense and honesty. Munro's strength is recognised to lie in her attempt to portray "the exact tone or texture of how things are." in other words, in a delicately exact realism of presentation.

Pfaus makes another commonsense kind of decision in choosing to follow the broad road of thematic study and asserts that behind all of Munro's work lies "a simple moral impulse . . . that reality on its different cognitive levels must be confronted." Thus focussed, the commentary searches out such moments of confrontation in the various stories. It is particularly successful in demonstrating the amount of play-acting and fantasy found in Munro's protagonists. The discussion is clear and the argument is never forced.

This kind of criticism is appealing to high school students and the obvious virtue of this book is that it can start the process of critical thinking. Too much, however, cannot be expected in the way of close examination of language, and study of form, in a short work with a broad thesis, such as this.

Alan Thomas, Scarborough College. University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works