Soon after finishing Alice Munro's "Dear Life" and writing the above, I began an unsubtle campaign to persuade a few of my book clubs to read it. Two clubs took the bait but the subsequent discussions were not as rich as I'd hoped, probably because the groups were small. But I'm a persistent bookworm and three turned out to be my lucky number this time.
Of the fourteen short stories in "Dear Life", this larger club ended up touching on twelve and their insights made my stubborn persistence worthwhile. Because her main characters are often women who trust or love unworthy men, I was curious to hear how other women would react to Munro's somber and spare tales. And though the reactions of the women in the club varied, their lively exchange of ideas was fascinating. At this point, though I'm used to being the only man at many of these meetings, I was still caught off guard when asked if I felt Munro was "fair" in her depiction of men. Since the Father in Munro's story "Night" is the kind of Father I hope I am to my daughter, I used that example to respond to the question. If you're not fond of short story collections, let me suggest you read "Night" first; I suspect you'll want to continue with the others after you've done so.
Then, the coolest thing happened. One woman at the meeting said she wrote her own brief descriptions of each of the stories similar to the fantasy I entertained in my post eight months ago! Like my brother-in-law always says - "you can't make this stuff up."