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Then, amongst all these jolly characters and a dozen delightful little scenes, we meet X: a contradictory character without a name. His wife is at bingo…. She has a talent for storytelling. She has a gift for prose. Whatever the moment that a Carol Shields story illuminates, it is sure to be a subtle one, nothing unusually uncommon: a familiar moment, generally.

These familiar scenes she writes about -- the commonplace, the domestic -- and the profound complexities she wrings from them remind us that we are not alone in our struggles. We all suffer this human condition, together. Apr 04, Totochelamouche rated it really liked it. His anger blazes just thinking of them.

She is diverted by the thought of these four purposeful commodities traded to a diminished and deprived public. She connected it with depression, and being a woman, particularly the woman she was, she linked his depression with herself, some failing on her part, some act omitted. It is also capricious, idiotic, sentimental, imperfect and inconstant, and most often seems to be the exclusive preserve of others.

So many friends, so many acquaintances! Still, she paused, lifting her head and melodramatically said to herself, "I am a lonely woman. Later, this became their low-water mark: "Remember when we were so broke we couldn't afford to rent a floor sander? That's something I'm sorry I missed. The lie bothered her not at all since she knew it did people good to be fulsomely envied. I gave him a small smile in return. He stopped laughing then and gulped his coffee, struggling to straighten his face. We have to be terribly careful after forty years together.

We are both so easily injured. Sadness was dignified; it was referred to as melancholy; it was described as autumnal in tome and tinged with woodsmoke. She listened hard. She has a lot of strong curiosity about her. The same things their mothers and grandmothers have said, shaking the same powder across their broad or narrow noses and peering at their dabbed, genetically condemned faces or at a broken nail, probably bitten, held up and examined in the weak light.

There is, after all, so much authentic chaos to sort out, so much seething muddle and predicament that it is a wonder children survive their early ignorance.

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How do they bear it? You would think they would hold their breath out of sheer rage or hurl themselves down flights of stairs. You would think they'd get sick and die. They've concluded that the searches are symbolic, evidence that strict security measures are being observed, even though the situation is clearly impossible. Mainly, as he sees it, he's forgotten how to pay attention, grown somehow incapacitated and lazy.

Black Ice: collected stories

At times, he can't believe his own laziness. He chides himself, his sins of omission. He is a man so lazy, so remiss, he couldn't be bothered last spring to step into his own backyard for a glimpse of Halley's comet. And what did that mean?


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He asked himself this with the same winning interrogation he practiced on the famous. It meant happiness, or something akin to happiness. The binding had long since deteriorated, and the pages had been tied together by someone - who? Slowly, respectfully, she'd tried to undo the knot, but the ribbon was so stiff with age that it crumbled on the table into a kind of white powder. She had examined the severed pages with more tenderness and sense of privilege than she'd ever felt toward anything in her life, and it occurred to her that perhaps this is what mothers feel for the secret lives of their children.

Surely - she glanced at Northie - such moments keep people from flying into pieces. These missives, so richly welcoming, persuading and honoring, had pleased her at first, then puzzled her. And now she felt for the first time directly threatened.

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Something or someone was conspiring to consume a portion of her life, or herself, in fact - entering her apartment and taking possession of her Saturday evening just as a thief might enter and carry off her stereo [ Have you ever tried Carol Shields? She is better known for her novels, like The Stone Diaries, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, but these stories are so thoughtful, exquisite and haunting that it's easy to keep turning the pages. This chunky paperback brings together Shields' three short story collections, plus several other stories including 'Segue', her last work before she died in Carol Shields confides in her readers, chats to us as though we are old friends, lets us into the secrets of her characters' inner lives.

She frequently uses an omniscient viewpoint, which allows her the freedom to jump around between characters, between continents. Occasionally she goes off on tangents and the story does a complete turnaround. Themes rise and recede through the collection like tides in an ocean of family: women trying to fill the spaces in their sagging marriages, holidaying couples confronted by strange events, the ties and loyalties of sibling relationships. Writers are disproportionately represented amongst the characters, and Shields pokes wry fun at them.

There is a satirical story about an academic who talks about 'narrative enclosures' and 'fictive modules' over the top of a strong emotional subtext. There is a humorous novelist, Meershank, who is suddenly gripped by writer's block, and finds some pleasure in it. There is a first-time author on tour, whose meeting with an old friend from a writers' group has unexpected consequences. Shields conveys the human goodness in everyone, even while describing their flaws. Take 'Mrs Turner Cutting the Grass', for example. Her organic neighbours cast judgements on the way Mrs Turner does her gardening; the teenage girls walking past are horrified that she exposes her cellulite by wearing shorts "At her age.

Doesn't she realise? Shields' writing is layered and subtle and invites re-reading. Every word seems carefully chosen, yet the effect is a seamless narrative, some stories even seeming to flow on into each other. Highly enjoyable. This is a really long collection of short-stories. I started reading it with great enjoyment but ended it somewhat bored. I'd advise anyone not to read this all in one go because it gets repetitive: many of the themes are found all throughout the book namely practically all the stories are about a couple, often a middle-aged couple, travelling through Europe, or the characters are writers or great academics.

I feel I'd have enjoyed it more if I had taken a break between the 3 books condensed i This is a really long collection of short-stories. I feel I'd have enjoyed it more if I had taken a break between the 3 books condensed in this edition. Having said that, I'm a fan of Carol Shields and her style, some of the stories were very enjoyable. What I noticed about many of them was that they followed a certain pattern for most of the story but when you thought you'd get some conclusion the tone or the theme of the story changed in the last section and that left me unsatisfied.

Perhaps it's because I'm not a big "believer" in short stories, they often leave me feeling like there's something missing. And even though I really enjoy themes of relationships, intimacy, marriage, etc, sometimes I wondered if there was something wrong in having a character that was single or unattached. Of course, you should write about what you know and Carol Shields did just that. Sep 19, Rachel rated it it was amazing. These stories are clever, lovely, and frank. Whenever I got tired of the hard action of high fantasy, or the bleakness of sci-fi, I came back to these stories. They restored my interest and faith in the beauty of language and also how slice-of-life stories can be touching without being cloying.

Compared to the other books I've been reading, these stories were very down-to-earth, although Shields does have a few amusing jaunts into magical realism. I liked how there wasn't something that had to h These stories are clever, lovely, and frank. I liked how there wasn't something that had to happen or be revealed to make the stories worthwhile.

It's hard to express how and why I love these stories. Small details, like the kinds of clothes a person wears or if they drink tea in the mornings, took me into the intimate lives of the characters in these short stories. It sat on my shelf for a long time before I thought I should give it a try I'm glad there's still some whimsy to my book selections. The cover quote from Alice Munro didn't hurt either I might try one of her novels next!

Not your typical short stories. Very few had a plot or even central conflict. It's more like you're a fly and you buzz in and out of homes to witness snippets of life happening all over space and time. Some of the stories are peculiar, making me wonder if I totally missed the point once I got to the end. Perhaps I did, as I raced thro Not your typical short stories.

Perhaps I did, as I raced through many of the stories instead of slowly digesting them one by one. I liked the one where the meterologists go on strike and there's no weather, the one where the writer avoids the letter I and narrates the experience. There were a few others, too, but on the whole, I'd say I am more of a short story traditionalist. Feb 02, Eternally Dreaming of Libraries rated it really liked it. I'm going ahead and marking this book as read now, even though I did not finish the entire collection. I read most of the stories in this collection.

However, it is a book I will need to take a break from before coming back to it. I really enjoyed the stories. Carol Shields focuses on such positive, uplifting themes in her writing which I really needed at the time I picked up this collection. I like how she takes such commonplace occurrences and makes us see them in an enhanced way. It was reall I'm going ahead and marking this book as read now, even though I did not finish the entire collection.

It was really a treat to read some of these. There was a story at the beginning about a couple on holiday in Europe that really captured me. She really knows how to paint a character in a few short sentences and make her characters memorable.

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I will most likely be returning to this book to finish reading the rest of the stories included. It was a delight to become acquainted with Shields' writing. This woman understands so much about the human condition! And her stories create 'perfect' moments in the lives of people we care about, and with whom we can empathise.


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The world lost one of the great story tellers when Shields died a few years ago. Her gift for language and the turn of a phrase is brilliant. Dec 29, Elizabeth Lister rated it really liked it. Beautifully written, full of metaphor, depth and imagery, but not exactly cheerful. Loved the writing though :. Aug 12, Lisa rated it really liked it. I really loved the first three-quarters of this wonderful collection, astounded by Shields' amazing prose, her ability to see the most mundane of things and bring them to life Not sure whether the stories weren't as good or whether I was needing a break from the strange mostly sad and lost characters inhabiting her collection.

Jun 19, Kristal Turner rated it really liked it. The best short stories candle from Dressing Up for the Carnival, more magical realism and engaging stories. Various Miracles: Words. Jul 28, Cindy May rated it it was amazing. Loved this collection of short stories - my two favorites being "The Journal" and "Hinterland" because I felt I could really relate to both on such a personal level esp "The Journal". I would definitely recommend this book to others. May 30, Gala rated it it was amazing. I am so happy to have been introduced to Carol Shields this year.

Her short stories are a trip, each one, a trip, and virtually always a surprise. May 15, Monique Stevens rated it it was amazing. Delicious writing! I like to twirl it around in my glass like a fine wine! She perfected the art of the short story. Aug 23, Bonnie rated it liked it Shelves: cbr9.

A diverse, if uneven, collection of short stories that run a gamut of experiences and feature an array of characters and perspectives. Only The New York Times Book Review described her work as "sometimes mannered linguistic musings" that "conjure up a very writerly writer honing her technical and theoretical skills and paying little attention to conventions of plot and Shields, a critically acclaimed Canadian writer who died in , was best known for fictionalizing the lives of women.

Feb 05, Georganne rated it liked it Shelves: favorite-authors , short-stories , I loved and still love Carol Shields' work. So, I had high expectations for this story collection. It's ok in places, good to very good in others. Actually, it's a mixed bag, probably because it ranges over her whole career. Also, sometimes an author is a better novelist than short story writer or vise versa.

I don't know. The truth is I haven't finished the book. I still enjoyi I loved and still love Carol Shields' work. I still enjoying reading the stories off and on and will continue to do so, but I'm tired of seeing it come up listed on goodreads as "currently reading". It's a hefty pages of short stories. I'll let you know when I find some outstanding stories in this collection. In the mean time, if you are not familiar with this author Canadian but born in US who died way too soon in , read 'The Stone Diaries' to realize the loss of a great talent, a Pulitzer Prize winner if you need more convincing.

Carol Shields is an unending source of inspiration for those of us wishing to conquer the short story form. Probably best known for The Stone Diaries, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, I think she was enormously gifted at the short story form. With it, she achieved amazing insights into mostly the lives of women, though she's an equal-opportunity inspector. A Collection of Stories for 2 Year Olds. Exhalation: Stories. The Sandman Vol. Growing Things and Other Stories. Top rated See more. Ghosts of the Shadow Market. Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales. Stories of Your Life and Others.

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The Collected Stories

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