Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Shields. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shields. Show all posts

03 March, 2017

Carol Shields, "Milk Bread Beer Ice"

The story is written in third-person point of view. Barbara and her husband, Peter, are on a road trip to Houston, from Canada. They pass through Waco, Texas. They are going to the estate auction of one of Peter's clients who committed suicide because he didn't have anyone to talk to according to his suicide note. On day five of the trip, Barbara "prays to the grooved door of the glove compartment. Let something, anything, materialize." She also has no one to talk to. Peter rarely speaks to her. Although, in one scene we see him in an animated conversation on the telephone, inside a booth.

They've been married for thirty-three years and they don't talk much. What's important to Barbara is words. On the long drive, she thinks about words, definitions, names, titles, narrations, conversations, signage.

This was an interesting story for me to read right now because I'm working on a short story about words found on the roadways. Some of the first words Barbara thinks about are gulch and gully. As if to say that their marriage is in a rut.

"Milk Bread Beer Ice" was first published in Saturday Night, then included in Shields's collection, The Orange Fish, in 1989, and finally in her Collected Stories, 2004.  

Carol Shields, "Dressing Up for the Carnival"

"Dressing Up for the Carnival" is told in third person, limited, shifting, point of view. It moves through ten people and their dressing, preparing, or greeting and showing, to the world, how they want to be seen. Going out into the world is much like a carnival, a period of public celebration. Hidden desires can be revealed by outward appearances.

Tamara chooses a yellow skirt to show she's passionate.

Roger purchases a mango to carry in his hand. He wants to postpone his "shriveled fate."

The Borden sisters proudly wear their "plastic ski passes on the zipper tabs of their jackets."

Wanda pretends there is a baby inside the pram she wheels to her boss's house.

Mr. Gilman carries daffodils all day long and realizes he has "received more courteous attention."

Mandy is her brother, for a bit, when she delivers to him his forgotten football helmet.

Susan proudly carries Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, while she waits.

Molly's new pacemaker sends her to town.

Jeanette wears a chignon and X wears his wife's nightgown while she is out playing bingo.

"Dressing Up for the Carnival" was first published in June 1987 in Malahat Review, then in her collection of the same name in 2000, and finally included in Shields's Collected Stories, published in 2004.

21 June, 2016

Carol Shields, "Keys"

Omniscient viewpoint explores several different people and their relationships to keys, found, owned, or collected. The idea that people are always locked in or locked out is interesting to think about. "Keys are useful, portable and highly metaphorical, suggesting as they do the two postures we most often find ourselves in--for either we are locking in...or locked out."

"Keys" was published in the 1999 issue of Story magazine, included in Shields' collection, Carol Shields: Collected Stories, and Border Crossings.