Book of the Week: "Too Much Happiness"

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Dec. 4 2009 4:25 PM

Book of the Week: "Too Much Happiness"

I've already started pressing Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness on my friends, and the one who finished my copy gave it back with a shiver and the comment, "Good. Creepy!" That sums up Munro's writing, in this book more than many of her others. Critics have faulted the stories in this volume for an excess of crime and blood. Children die, a murderer holds a woman hostage in her house, a skanky old man gets a young woman to take off her clothes and read him poetry in his library. I did not mind. To me, Munro's excellence as a writer builds on and then far outstrips her creepiness. And the images that haunt me from this book are some of the more florid ones, if I'm honest. In particular, the end of the opening story, "Dimensions" (a favorite of none of the reviewers I've read). A woman is taking the bus to visit her husband in prison. He's there because he killed their three children, but she is still in his thrall. From the window of the bus, she sees a driver plunge into a ditch and fly out of his truck. She gives him back life by breathing into his mouth. "Shy but steady whiffs now, a sweet obedience in the chest. Keep on, keep on." She tells the bus driver to go on without her. She has broken her husband's hold over her after all.

Hanna and Margaret Talbot and I will talk about Too Much Happiness for a DoubleX book club in a couple of weeks. Read it and write in here or on Facebook , before or after, to ask questions or tell us what you think.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.