The Dean's Book Club

Current Book, Fall Semester/Winter Break 2013: Dear Life Stories by Alice Munro

[Alice Munro Book Club Fall 2013]"Alice Munro, one of the foremost short-story writers of her generation, creates tales that have the scope and amplitude of novels: whole lives are condensed into a handful of pages, the progress of love is charted over the years as passion gives way to restlessness or deeper commitment or something more ambiguous.

People’s lives often change abruptly in Ms. Munro’s stories (by accident, bad luck or calculated risk), but her earlier tales tended to give us a kaleidoscopic views of such events, conveying both the precariousness of daily life and the subjectivity of memory. Ms. Munro, now 81, seems to have increasingly turned toward stories with more tightly plotted narratives, more closure and more Aesop-like morals — in sharp contrast to the many artists, like Tennessee Williams and Claude Monet, whose work grew increasingly abstract in later years. There is a terseness to these tales (more than half of which have a single word for a title), a sense of impatience on the part of the author."
            - NY Times


Russell Sage College’s
2013 Dean’s Summer Reading Assignment

I hope you enjoy reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.  When you arrive at Sage in August, please bring with you two copies of a 2-3 page paper with your thoughts of the book and your reaction to the preventable tragedy that occurred with Lia.  Your paper should be typed and double spaced with one inch margins.  You will share your paper with student mentors and your professor during your first-year seminar course on Wednesday, August 28th.  Please also be prepared to discuss the questions below at the Dean’s Reading Forum that same day. 

Enjoy the remainder of the summer!
Donna Heald, RSC Dean

Consider the following...

  • How did you feel about Lia’s parents’ refusal to give her medicine? Can you understand their motivation?
  • Despite the efforts of Lia’s doctors to provide medical care, a preventable tragedy occurred.  What would you have done differently that might have helped to bridge the cultural gap?
  • Would you assign blame for Lia's tragedy? If so, to whom and why?
  • Why is home so important to the Hmong? In what ways is home an important part of your identity and experience?
  • What have you learned from reading the book? How can you apply what you have learned in your daily interactions with others and your future career?