9780060762049

Collected Stories

Shields, Carol

ISBN 10: 0060762047 / 0-06-076204-7
ISBN 13: 9780060762049
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 2005
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:

With the profound maturity and exquisite eye for detail that never failed to capture readers of her prize-winning novels, Carol Shields dazzles with these remarkable stories. Generous, delightful, and acutely observed, this essential collection illuminates the miracles that grace our lives; it will continue to enchant for years to come.


Review:
Carol Shields's collection of short stories is the definitive anthology of this genre of her work. It contains all previously published stories and one entirely new: "Segue," her last work. She died of cancer in July of 2003, after fighting the good fight, for the second time. The book is introduced by Margaret Atwood, another widely read Canadian author, who was a longtime friend and admirer of Shields.

The stories are truly remarkable, combining great humor with poignant observation--an exploration of the idiosyncracies of our friends, lovers, spouses, and children, and the gift of being a true storyteller. She glories in writing about the mundane: grocery shopping, ballet lessons, mowing the lawn; and in the quirky, as in a young boy's grandfather who becomes a "naturist," a grandmother who was North America's Turkey Queen in Ramona, California, and wore a dress made completely of turkey feathers. Her writing is full of wonder and serendipity: "Roger, aged thirty, employed by the Gas Board, is coming out of a corner grocers carrying a mango in his left hand. He went in to buy an apple and came out with this." Now, what will turn out to be important here: Roger's age, his employment, why the mango instead of the apple, and, is he left-handed? Carol Shields will sort it all out for the reader, in the most enjoyable way possible. While her stories are accessible, they are never trivial. Each one is finely crafted, illuminating something about a person, a relationship, an event.

In "Segue," Max and Jane begin their Sunday morning buying bread and flowers; he, an accomplished novelist, she, a writer of sonnets. They proceed to luncheon at their daughter's house, return home to conversation, reading, roast chicken, and evening reverie. Jane reflects upon her aging body: "My aging is me too, as well as the subject of my current sonnet. Only two years ago the idea of aging belonged to the whole world. It was background. I hadn't been touched by it then. Now I am." Touched by age and encroaching illness, Carol Shields wrote one last marvelous story.

In her foreword, Margaret Atwood, who visited Shields only two months before she died, writes: "We did not speak of her illness. She preferred to be treated as a person who was living, not one who was dying." This attitude of mind is reflected in the fabric of all her work, in its clarity, its appreciation of the absurd, and in her understanding of the human condition. --Valerie Ryan

Review

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