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

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

"Words" - A Short Story by Carol Shields - Included in The Collected Stories of Carol Shields- 2004

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

The more I read in the stories of Carol Shields the more grateful I am to Buried in Print for 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.

"Words", four pages, is the tenth story by Carol Shields I have so far read,

"Words" is a fascinating story about global warming seen through a marriage that originated in a conference, spanning ten years.  They met as delegates to a global conference.

"WHEN THE WORLD FIRST STARTED HEATING UP, an international conference was held in Rome to discuss ways of dealing with the situation. Ian’s small northern country—small in terms of population, that is, not in size—sent him to the meetings as a junior observer, and it was there he met Isobel, who was representing her country as full-fledged delegate....They played truant, missing half the study sessions, the two of them lingering instead over tall, cool drinks in the café they found...The second International Conference was held ten years later. The situation had become grave. One could use the word crisis and not be embarrassed. Ian—by then married to Isobel, who was at home with the children—attended every session, and he listened attentively to the position papers of various physicists, engineers, geographers and linguists from all parts of the world. It was a solemn but distinguished assembly; many eminent men and women took their places at the lectern, including the spidery old Scottish demographer who years earlier had made the first correlation between substrata temperatures and highly verbalized societies. In every case, these speakers presented their concerns with admirable brevity, each word weighted and frugally chosen, and not one of them exceeded the two-minute time limitation. For by now no one really doubted that it was the extravagance and proliferation of language that had caused the temperature of the earth’s crust to rise, and in places—California, Japan, London—to crack open"

The story forces through the theories advanced to ponder or look for a meaningful conclusion as the climate crisis becomes worse every month..

The Carol Shields Literary Trust Website has an excellent biography



Buried In Print said...

I was so surprised to come across this theme in the collection; I'd not remembered her ever writing about the climate crisis (let alone so many years ago, before it was a common topic to see in books and journalism).

Nor did I remember just how often she writes about academics and writers and poets and people who just believe in the weight and importance of Words (as this title underscores). It feels like almost every story.

Anyway, I'm so pleased you're enjoying her stories, and I noticed in a comment on an earlier post that you're also interested in her novels now! Not to rush the short stories. heheh

Mel u said...

Buried in Print- I was very initially surprised by this story also.