Category Archives: Shields, Carol

This Week In My Reading: Scale and Significance

In a way, this post is also about “this week in my classes,” as it is prompted by the serendipitous convergence of my current reading around questions we’ve been discussing since we started working on Carol Shields’ Unless in my section of Intro to Lit. In our first session on the novel, I give some introductory remarks about Shields — […]

“Up to the wall”: Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries

I don’t really understand why I didn’t like The Stone Diaries this time. Did I reread it at the wrong moment for me, somehow? I admired lots of pieces of it as I was reading, but my overall experience of it was that it was too miscellaneous: that it incorporated too many elements that ended up feeling […]

“An Act of Reconstruction”: Carol Shields, Swann

The faces of the actors have been subtly transformed. They are seen joined in a ceremonial act of reconstruction, perhaps even an act of creation. There need be no suggestion that any of them will become less selfish in the future, less cranky, less consumed with thoughts of tenure and academic glory, but each of […]

“Shaped Into Stories”: Carol Shields, Small Ceremonies

It’s the arrangement of events which makes the stories. It’s throwing away, compressing, underlining. Hindsight can give structure to anything, but you have to be able to see it. Breathing, waking and sleeping: our lives are steamed and shaped into stories. Knowing that is what keeps me from going insane, and though I don’t like […]

This Week In My Classes: Canons and Complications

My classes aren’t meeting at all today, thanks to the “weather bomb” we are currently enjoying. It is uncanny how many storms have come through on Wednesdays this winter! And it’s an unpleasant surprise to get a big one this late in the term. The bright side seems to be that it’s supposed to warm […]

“Because she’s a woman”: Carol Shields, Unless

I’ve just wrapped up a couple of weeks of reading and discussing Carol Shields’s Unless with the students in my Intro class. I assigned it a bit on impulse: I wanted a reasonably contemporary Canadian novel on the syllabus, and I was also looking for a novel to pair with Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own — […]

Carol Shields, Unless

A recent talk with a good friend sent me back to my bookshelf to revisit Carol Shields’s Unless, which I remembered having found not wholly convincing. My reaction on this re-reading was the same, though the novelistic intelligence evident throughout engaged me more fully this time. My problem here is the opposite of my complaint […]

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