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

Saturday, April 20, 2024

"A Word" A short story by Carol Shields and Anne Giardini - 12 Pages - Included in The Collected Short Stories of Carol Shields- 2004

 "A Word" A short story by Carol Shields and Anne Giardini - 12 Pages - Included in The Collected Short Stories of Carol Shields- 2004

(Anne Giardini, OC, OBC, QC, is a Canadian business executive, journalist, lawyer and writer. She is the oldest daughter of late Canadian novelist Carol Shields. Giardini is licensed to practice law in British Columbia (and formerly in Ontario and Washington State). As a journalist, Giardini has contributed to the National Post as a columnist. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband of more than 30 years. They have three grown children. She has written two novels, The Sad Truth about Happiness (2005) and Advice for Italian Boys (2009), both published by HarperCollins. Giardini and her son, Nicholas Giardini, edited Startle and Illuminate (Random House Canada, 2016), a book of Carol Shields' thoughts and advice on writing. Giardini served as the 11th chancellor of Simon Fraser University from 2014 to 2020. Wikipedia)

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.

"A Word" is the 14th story from The Collected Short Stories of Carol Shields upon which I have so far posted upon.  

The story focuses on three adult siblings in the Wood family, two brothers and a sister.  Their not too long ago deceased father, little mention is made of their mother is very much a factor in their lives.  As the story opens Ellen is preparing for a solo violin performance.  One of the brothers repairs guitars.  The family is very into a sense of being elite, depending the best from themselves.

The story makes brilliant use of the juxtaposition of family history to European history:

"Many generations of Woods had worn the gold necklace. Three Woods had been married in it. A Wood had worn it to a funeral mass for Czar Nicholas. A Wood had shaken the hand of the great Schiffmann while wearing it. A Wood had hidden it behind a plaster wall in the city of Berlin. Another Wood had carried it out of Spain in 1936 sewn into the hem of a blanket."

Here is the account of the start of the concert:

"Elke had just arrived in the wings when the lights were dimmed and the noise from the audience thinned to a softer sound. She stood, bent slightly forward, with one arm crooked around the violin and the bow held lightly in the opposite hand. Under the surprising folds of the costume, which she now realized smelled strongly of mothballs and dust, her body felt cool and determined. It seemed suddenly as though Papa were near—in the chamber of the violin or wrapped around the rosined strings of her bow. But she knew this was only an illusion stirred by the hard lights and the rising excitement. “He’s gone,” she told herself, looking down at the backs of her hands. “I’m sure of that, at least.”

The Carol Shields Literary Trust Website has an excellent biography

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

This is such a strangely complicated story; I think you could reread it in a different mood and notice entirely different things. One metaphor I really loved was this one: "The two of them [Stanley and Ross] bounced lightly off each other as two eggs will do when boiled in a little pan." So recognizable!