Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, February 2, 2024

"Accidents" - A Short Story by Carol Shields - included in The Collected Stories of Carol Shields - 2004 - With An Introduction by Margaret Atwood

This year, Buried in Print, a marvelous blog I have followed for over ten years,will be doing a read through of the short stories of Carol Shields. I hope to participate fully in this event.

“Her stories have given me happiness, not just pleasure. They delight me at first by the clear and simple elegance with which they’re made. Then there’s something so bountiful and surprising about them, like the beautiful broken light of a prism.” —Alice Munro

The more I read in the stories of Carol Shields the more grateful I am to Buried in Print turning me on to her work. There are sixty some stories in the collection,it is my hope to read and post on them all in 2024.

"Accidents" is narrated by a married man. He is a professional abridger.

"I am an abridger. When I tell people, at a party for instance, that I am an abridger, their faces cloud with confusion and I always have to explain. What I do is take the written work of other people and compress it. For example, I am often hired by book clubs to condense or abridge the books they publish. I also abridge material that is broadcast over the radio. It’s a peculiar profession, I’m the first to admit, but it’s one I fell into by accident and that I seem suited for. Abridging requires a kind of inverse creativity."

They are Canadians on vacation on the coast of France, they have fond memories of previous visits. The couple seems close, in an odd sort of way.  I found the husband's thoughts on his Wife very revelatory:

"Her breasts have remained younger than the rest of her body. When I see her rub them with oil and point them toward the fierce sunlight, I think of the Zubaran painting in the museum at Montpellier which shows a young and rather daft-looking St. Agatha cheerfully holding out a platter on which her two severed breasts are arranged, ordinary and bloodless as jam pastries. One morning something odd happened to my wife. She was sitting on the balcony working on her new translation of Valéry’s early poems and she had a cup of coffee before her."

I  very much enjoy the deep culture of the characters in the stories of Shields. Ok and I like the coffee drinking.

There is a dramatic occurrence in "Accidents"', yes an accident.

The Carol Shields Literary Trust Website has an excellent biography

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