Dressing Up for the Carnival
By Carol Shields
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670889211, 208pp.)
Publication Date: April 24, 2000
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Through them all runs Shields's preoccupation with identity. In the title story -- a compacted day in the life off the world -- a procession of characters try on new selves; in "Dressing Down" a YMCA director sheds his suited self one month a year in a nudist enclave. Yet these twenty-two stories, and their quiet epiphanies, contrast with each ocher more sharply. The lyricism of "Weather" and the bittersweet sexuality of "Eros". The wicked skewering of pompous academic conversation in "The Next Best Kiss" and the odd, straightfaced whimsy of "Flatties". And in "The Scarf" -- new for this collection -- the realities of a fledgling author's book tour. Playful, graceful, acute yet tender, Dressing Up for the Carnival is Carol Shields at her most accomplished and appealing. It "reminds us again why literature matters".
Carol Shields (1935-2003) is the author of The Stone Diaries, which won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Canada's Governor General's Award. Her other novels and short-story collections include The Republic of Love, Happenstance, Swann, The Orange Fish, Various Miracles, The Box Garden, and Small Ceremonies (all available from Penguin).