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By Marta Dvorak, Manina Jones

Claiming the 'ordinary' and 'extra-ordinary' as serious different types, individuals to this quantity discover the philosophical and literary import of Carol Shields's writing, its complicated play with style and narrative procedure, and its re-valuing of domesticity and gendered point of view.

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Extra resources for Carol Shields and the Extra-Ordinary

Example text

Where I grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, I attended, first, Nathaniel Hawthorne Public School, and when I was a little older, Ralph Waldo Emerson Public School. I knew who these bearded, bespectacled, frock-coated gentlemen were; their portraits hung in a place of honour in our schools. They were writers. They were men. They were dead. It seemed impossible that I could grow up to become a writer, and yet I began, quite early, to write: stories, often with a supernatural theme and a trick ending. I also wrote little poems about spring, and later, as I mastered the mechanics of meter, sonnets about spring.

Susanna Moodie set her rather lugubrious novels in England, and in an England that had long since vanished. Hugh MacLennan was driven to despair trying to interest American publishers in his Canada based novels. As recently as the 1930s and ’40s, Morley Callaghan published some of his novels in double editions: a Toronto setting for those books sold in Canada, a Chicago setting for those sold south of the border. Gabrielle Roy writes in her autobiography that as a young Franco-Manitoban writer she grew conscious of what she calls a worm in the apple, the feeling that she was so doubly at the edge that she belonged nowhere.

8 Each of these name changes shows careful refinement of the echoes and social connotations that the choices imply. Shields’s manuscripts are rife with such changes, which demonstrate the care and attention she gave to creating her character labels. In a few instances in the 1980s, Shields also wrote poetry, which she submitted for publication under male pseudonyms: for the Canadian magazine Border Crossings and a Manitoba television contest, she used the pseudonym Ian McAllister, and for another piece for a Chatelaine fiction contest she chose the sweetly ironic name Ian Strange.

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