Dressing up for the Carnival

Publisher: Vintage Canada
From one of Canada's best-loved, award-winning authors comes a surprising treasure trove: Carol Shields distilling her wisdom, elegance, insouciant sense of humour and eroticism into twenty-two delightful stories. The title story sets the stage: a Shakespearean prologue in which the narrative flame jumps from character to character, each of them dressed up and putting their best foot forward, conscious of costuming themselves for the daily carnival of life. Playful, graceful, acutely observed and generous of spirit, these stories are Carol Shields at her most accomplished and appealing.


Chapter One

All over town people are putting on their costumes.

Tamara has flung open her closet door; just to see her standing there is to feel a squeeze of the heart. She loves her clothes. She knows her clothes. Her favorite moment of the day is this moment, standing at the closet door, still...
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1. Carol Shields spoke of becoming a writer because there weren’t enough books that examined women’s friendships and women’s inner lives — or, as she put it, “the kind of book I wanted to read but couldn’t find.” In what ways does Shields’s fiction bring the lives of women...

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"A radiant gift, a brilliant archive, a book of common prayer for those who appreciate the transcendence of all that is prosaic...this latest clutch of stories is rich with a poetic intensity seldom present in contemporary fiction today. Dressing Up for the Carnival is a book to be savoured, the kind of book a dedicated reader will place gently on the bedside table, doling out one story each night to make the book last longer." —Winnipeg Free Press

"Here's Shields doing what she does so marvellously: taking an ordinary, over-looked object and re-illuminating it, offering us a chance to meditate on ignored corners or fragments of our own lives.... There's much intelligence here and a singular inventiveness enlivened by odd passions and deft humour...dazzling and wickedly funny." —The Globe and Mail

"Dressing up for the Carnival is a taste of something different from Shields. It is a gourmand's delight with each tale centered around one stabilizing theme: life is a carnival.... The tenderness of Shields' narration is her trademark. Her gift of narrowing the telescope and uncoiling the springs of private thoughts — those that blow past in seconds — is her particular genius." —New Brunswick Telegraph

"Shields is an alchemist who can somehow produce gold from the mundane.... Every story in this collection is a small, glittering masterpiece." —National Post