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

Thursday, June 20, 2024

"Salt" - A Short Story by Carol Shields 4 Pages - -included in The 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.

"Salt" is the 21st short story by Carol Shields upon which I have so far posted upon.  As Buried in Print has commented a number of the stories by Shields center on someone travelling, often a Scholarly authority of some kind. The central character, home based in London, is on a lecture tour through Canada.  We never learn what he speaks about.  In his ship in Manitoba there are six men in attendance, no women are allowed.

The speaker asks a minister present why Lot's wife was turned to salt.

"“There’s something I’ve been wondering about lately. It’s a biblical question, and perhaps you would be able to provide me with an answer.” At this the theologian looked mildly disoriented, and a bridge of bone over his eyes pushed forward. “Well I’m afraid my Bible’s a bit rusty—” “It’s just this,” Thornbury said. “Why was it that Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt?” “Disobedience, wasn’t it?” The theologian was vague, engagingly so, probing his salad with a busy fork. “She disobeyed God by turning and looking back at the burning city.” “Yes,” Thornbury said, “of course. But my question is, why salt? Why not limestone, for instance? Or marble?” “Salt is soluble,” someone pronounced, not very helpfully. One of the lawyers. “Highly perishable, a pillar of salt. Wouldn’t last long in this part of the world, not in the springtime, anyway.” “But in that part of the world where the rainfall—” 

There are open questions about speaker Thornbury's relationship with his wife.

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

You can really hear the dialogue here, that picky-get-into-the-details rumination. I like that her dialogue is so realistic, often fragments of thoughts in speech.

The passage I marked in this was: "He pictures the now-inevitable postcard winging its way across the Atlantic, its tough little Canadian stamp and postmark, its cramped, pedantic printing, the horror of a cheery set of exclamation points, hail-fellow-searcher-after-truth."

The horror of the cheery exclamation points made me laugh. :-)