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Shields, Carol

Various Miracles

More Canadian Short Fiction? You damned well bet– just check the calendar. On that note, I’m starting to think Carol Shields herself is somewhat of a miracle. For starters, look at this, from an interview on Canada as a landscape for writers:

“We’re not big on heroes, either. The concept of heroes is alien. And I think that’s a very telling piece of our national ethos – no one deserves to be better than anyone else.”

If I didn’t already secretly pine for Canada on an almost daily basis, this tips the scales to metric. And here’s another quote, which (for any Carol Shields scholars) I’d love to find in its original context and in full:

“I’m concerned about the unknowability of other people…. That’s why I love biography and the idea of the human life told or shown. Of course, this is why I love novels, too. In novels, you get to hear how people are thinking. That’s why I read fiction.”

In my (not nonexistent) experience, fiction is worth loving as it brings the reader insight into what an author must think is unknowable about people, which is often extremely dissimilar to what I find unknowable about people. But I think the gist is there.

A disclaimer: You should know that this is the story that opens the collection of the same name. You should also know that the stories in this collection, while not mutually dependent, are definitely mutually more fascinating. Which is just a tip that if this is your cuppa, you should run out and snag yourself a copy, and read every last one.

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By miette

Miette has been podcasting the best of world literature's short fiction since March 2005, when she was just a pup.

9 replies on “Various Miracles”

Since you announced you were reading Canadian fiction, I’ve been coming back to your site silently begging for Carol Shields. Thank you for reading my mind!

I Love your reading (would drop an occasional contribution if you had a PayPal link.) I burn rewritable CDs to listen in bed. One suggestion, I would like to check the end to make sure it all downloaded. (I don’t read the last page of a mystery first, but if picking up a well-used copy might check to see if it is there.) Can’t quite imagine you doing a formal tagline like “You’ve been listening to …” but maybe just a quick “The end”, “Goodnight”, or even that little ding from the start, especially on something like this that seems to end in the middle of a sentence.

Hi Mary Clare,

Thanks for writing and good suggestion– though I intentionally don’t add any bookend on the tail end of a recording, as I don’t want to distract anyone’s thoughts from the full impact of the end of the story. But given this story, I can see your point… I’ll think of something (the story did end mid-sentence, by the way). I’m glad you’re enjoying the readings.

Also, I could never take donations (much to the chagrin of my own empty pockets) because I enjoy reading to everyone so much, and have discovered the inverse relationship between enjoyment and meansmaking. So, as long as I don’t accept money for this web site, I’ll be certain to continue to have a good time.

That said, I never turn down the gift of a good book, some of which can be found here if you’re ever inclined.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/3GC2DDY1SHWBR

My birthday is in July.

Best,
— Mtte.

I tell the kids that their job is to find themselves in the story. I see now that Carol Shields is right and I have been wrong. Finding oneself in a story is a miracle. We don’t read to find ourselves. We read for an escape, to get out of ourselves. Then, we find ourselves in the story and recognize the story inside of us.

At the end of “It Was” there is a small thump, like the sound of a book closing? Maybe you could do that more often.
(PS It’s too long until July.)

I have just recently found your podcasts and have returned to my younger days when my mom or grandmother would sit all 5 of us down for a chapter or two, depending on the book, and read until bedtime. While I dont listen at bedtime it does make my workday go a little faster. Thank you so much for the enjoyment you bring. A new friend Lori Taylor

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