Carol Shields, Narrative Hunger, and the Possibilities of Fiction

By Howells, Coral Ann | British Journal of Canadian Studies, May 2004 | Go to article overview

Carol Shields, Narrative Hunger, and the Possibilities of Fiction


Howells, Coral Ann, British Journal of Canadian Studies


Edward Eden and Dee Goertz (eds), Carol Shields, Narrative Hunger, and the Possibilities of Fiction (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003), x + 323pp. Cloth. £40. ISBN 0-8020-3660-0. Paper. £18. ISBN 0-8020-8489-3.

This excellent collection is a tribute to Carol Shields as novelist and biographer by members of her alma mater, Hanover College in Indiana, together with a number of international contributors. The nine essays radiate out from Shields's 1996 address at her old college, 'Narrative Hunger and the Overflowing Cupboard', outlining her carnivalesque theory of reading and writing, and published here as the first section of the book. The essays in the other sections treat her experiments with narrative form and language framed within debates over postmodernism and feminism, plus a valuable annotated bibliography of works by and about Shields, including interviews and films up to 2002, produced by Faye Hammill. In this beautifully crafted collection every essay foregrounds some aspect of 'narrative hunger', while acknowledging the arguments of other contributors to the volume.

The Stone Diaries forms the centre of discussion, with four essays analysing this novel from different angles: as 'metafiction that makes a critical comment on the genre of women's life writing' (p. …

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