Dressing Up for the Carnival

Carol Shields

A bestselling collection of short stories from the author of The Stone Diaries (winner of the Pulitzer prize) and Larry’s Party (winner of the Orange prize).

All over town people are putting on their costumes; X slips into his wife’s lace-trimmed night gown and waltzes around his bedroom; Tamara is no longer the dull clerk receptionist when she wears that yellow skirt, she evolves into a stunning creature exuding passion and vitality. In ‘Weather’ a couple’s life is thrown into utter chaos when The National Association of Metereorologists go on strike – what will they wear? What will they eat? In ‘Soup du Jour’ a young boy contemplates life, the cracks in the pavement and his mother’s soup-making.

Each story encapsulates the human spirit, its diversities, complexities and absurdities. Shields observes with compassion the carnival that goes on in each of our lives and the realities that we create for ourselves. Carol Shields’ second collection of short stories celebrates the extraordinary details that are found in ordinary, everyday lives.

Reviews of Dressing Up for the Carnival

    • ‘There are few writers currently at work who display such steely control of their material, such seemingly effortless range and variety.’ Alex Clark, Guardian
    • ‘Shields is about the best we have, she does not just express what oft was thought; she snags the shadows of those thoughts, the thoughts we did not know we had. The effect – at once elating and visceral – feels like a conjurer pulling a handkerchief from your heart.’ Daily Telegraph
    • ‘Her perceptions are so quick, her style is so acute, that she can tack a breath to the page and skewer a thought on the wing. It is her speciality to isolate moments that, because of some sensuous overkill they possess, remaining distinct in the mind for years, perhaps for a lifetime.’ Hilary Mantel, Sunday Times
    • ‘It is the breadth of Carol Shields’ human sympathy that marks her out as a special writer. That breadth is gloriously evident in “Dressing Up for the Carnival”. Whether she is playing the clown or offering poignant reflections on the fragility of happiness, Shields writes with a grace and lucidity that few of her contemporaries can match.’ Sunday Telegraph