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It’s rare that short fiction collections make it into print, much less onto bestseller lists. So when I see one pop up there I tend to sit up and take notice. And when the author is Alice Munro, I know before I even read it that I would like to help it stay up there in the lists.

This book wholly deserves its status. When I finished it, I felt pretty much the same way I felt the last time I read an Alice Munro book—sort of dazed but happy. Like I was waking up from a really good dream and couldn’t quite remember all the details, but wanted to recapture them one by one. And, as a writer, wanted to figure out how she does it.

Munro roots each story firmly in a place (mostly Ontario and Vancouver) and lets you get to know a set of charac
  
 
ters in the middle of pivotal parts of their lives. She fully defines her characters and the events they encounter in a concrete, spare style that perfectly balances the particular and the universal. She leaves you feeling like you’ve managed to drop into people’s heads while they’re in the middle of—or remembering—one of the most defining moments of their lifetimes. She delivers intact emotional snapshots of her characters.

As for the theme of this particular collection, the title (taken from a girlhood game played in the first story) says it all. It’s about relationships—some that work and some that don’t, but all intriguing.

This book may not be the right one for you if you’re looking for heart-stopping action. It’s more the type of book you’d like if you enjoy getting to know all sorts of people and finding out what makes them, and their relationships, tick. It’s a perfect book to read and reflect on in short sections before going to sleep; a book to slide into good dreams with.



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