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, April 16, 2024

"The Metaohor is Dead" - A Short Story by Carol Shields- 2 Pages -included in The Collected Short 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.

"The Metaphor is Dead" is the 13th story by Carol Shields upon which I have posted. At only two pages it is the briefest work so far and one of the strangest.

There is no real plot, the entire story is given over to a professor holding forth on what he sees as the decay of literature.

"THE METAPHOR IS DEAD,” bellowed the gargantuan professor, his walrus mustache dancing and his thundery eyebrows knitting together rapaciously. “Those accustomed to lunching at the high table of literature will now be able to nosh at the trough on a streamlined sub minus the pickle. Banished is that imperial albatross, that dragooned double agent, that muddy mirror lit by the false flashing signal like and by that even more presumptuous little sugar lump as. The gates are open, and the prisoner, freed of his shackles, has departed without so much as a goodbye wave to those who would take a simple pomegranate and insist it be the universe."

I will give our professor the last word:

"Initially a toy of the literati,” the fiery professor cried, “the metaphor grew like a polyp on the clean chamber of poetry whose friendly narrative lines had previously lain as simply as knives and forks in a kitchen drawer and whose slender, unjointed nouns, colloquial as onions, became puffed up like affected dowagers, swaying, pelvis forward, into a Victorian parlor of cluttered predicates, where they took to sitting about on the embroidered cushions of metonymy and resting their metered feet on quirky mean-spirited oxymorons."

The Carol Shields Literary Trust Website has an excellent biography


Suko said...

This sounds like an intriguing (very) short story, with a creative topic!

Buried In Print said...

I guess you kinda have to give the professor the last word, because he just won't stop talking! hahaha

This is such a thin slice of story; I think I would enjoy these more on the back page of a magazine rather than in a proper collection. But they're still fun and light.

This is the part I flagged: "With watercolor purity, with soldierly persistence and workmanlike lack of pretence, a newly pruned utterance appears to roll onto the snowy page with not a single troubling cul-de-sac or detour into the inky besmudged midnight of imagery."

Such over the top language!!