A rich selection of 28 compact and resonant stories (they're novels in miniature, more often than not) drawn from seven highly praised collections previously published by the Ontario writer. Munro has been called, with good reason, North America's Chekhov. Her rich elaborations of seemingly commonplace lives, in which she invariably locates the imaginative heart of lives her characters wished and meant to have lived, have grown in power and complexity over the years, to the point where the best stories in her 1994 volume, Open Secrets ("A Wilderness Station" and the magnificent "Carried Away"--surely one of the best stories of the last 50 years), have placed her in serious contention both for the Nobel Prize and for the designation of best living short-story writer (only William Trevor rivals her). Readers who don't know Munro's fiction should be directed toward such marvels as "Dance of the Happy Shades," "The Beggar Maid," and "The Moons of Jupiter." But none should be neglected. "Here," as Dryden said of Chaucer, "is God's plenty." The collection of the year."