[Download] ➸ Unless ➽ Carol Shields – Transportjobsite.co.uk



10 thoughts on “Unless

  1. says:

    Compulsively readable, the main character comes from a very long, proud lineage of other literary protagonists who get totally fucked over by their offspring Although it doesn t come close to the pathos articulation thereof of, say, Lionel Shriver s We Need to Talk About Kevin , nor the titan in decay tableau which is Philip Roth s American Pastoral Unless is way playful accessible It is the same old story, though , unless anything happens to me, I will definitely get my hands on every single thing Carol Shields has written or will write


  2. says:

    Did I tell you I just clocked up a count of just over 500 novels read, according to my GR novels shelf Hey, how about that It must make me some kind of authority now I can dish out advice, start up a helpline, I know which novel to attach to the St Bernard dog to take to the fallen climber in the Alps Except, I m actually getting worse at picking novels to read I just checked, and 13 out of 27 novels read so far this year have got a 1 or 2 star rating, i.e I hated them felt they were a blight on my life Why is that Part of the problem is that when I find an author I like I never read anything else by them, it would be too obvious recent exceptions Edward St Aubyn and Jean Rhys Also, I think I m easily led by reviewer enthusiasm This explains The Shock of the Fall, Gone Girl, Little Big and Her. But glorious reviews also led me to Life After Life, Animals and The Death of Bees, three recent books which delighted my very left ventricle You can t even rely on a novel s classic status, whatever that consists of I Capture the Castle and The Man Who Loved Children turned out to be insufferable and worthy of forceful defenestration, but Lucky Jim, Where Angels Fear to Tread and The Talented Mr Ripley were all ripping good fun.This present volume, Unless, winged its way to me garlanded with shortlists 2003 Booker Orange dripping with critical fluids But they were all wrong It was dire.A comfortable late 40s doctors wife in Ontario has three lovely daughters The eldest, 19 year old Norah, drops out of university to become a street person Sits on the pavement in Toronto with a begging bowl holding a sign saying GOODNESS This is not an uninteresting circumstance Philip the Roth had a similar thing going on in American Pastoral. But it s not what you do, it s the way that you do it, and Carol Shields does a Lionel Shriver by mentioning the awful horror briefly then spending 100 plus pages maundering over every last possible detail of her comfortable middle class translating wise feminist books from the French growing old gracefully but now wondering what the point of it all is cutesy artsy Canadian life After p 120 I knew what the daughter was up to The front of her sign said GOODNESS but the back said ME, MOTHER, PUT A SOCK IN IT.


  3. says:

    UPDATE May 2016 Just found out this is going to be a movie, starring Catherine Keener as Reta It will probably play the Toronto Film Festival in the fall Looking forward to it In Carol Shields s Unless, Reta Winters, a happy, middle aged novelist and translator, a wife and mother of three children, discovers that her 19 year old daughter has dropped out of university and is panhandling on the streets of Toronto holding a sign that reads Goodness That one sentence synopsis, while accurate, doesn t begin to suggest the rich detail and generosity of spirit behind Shields s final novel.The book is partly a mystery, an attempt to solve the question What happened As Reta fills in details about her husband, her children, her neighbours, her friends, her mother in law, the eminent French writer whose memoirs she s been translating for years, we begin to get a sense of the rhythms and layers of her life of anyone s life, really.And then there are the characters in Reta s new novel, a sequel to her light comedy My Thyme Is Up As she sinks deeper into despair, unable to protect her homeless daughter, she focuses on moving the lives of her characters around to their inevitably happy ending.This passage is key A life is full of isolated events, but these events, if they are to form a coherent narrative, require odd pieces of language, little chips of grammar mostly adverbs or prepositions that are hard to define, since they are abstractions of location or relative position, words like therefore, else, other, also, thereof, heretofore, instead, otherwise, despite, already, and not yet.Each chapter in this book and indeed the book s title itself takes its name from one of those odd pieces of language And gradually the details begin to form a coherent whole.So many scenes made me reflect on my own life, recognize how certain moments can be so fleeting Shields helps capture them in all their wonderful ordinariness After an exchange between Reta and one of her daughters, Reta thinks When she looks back on her life, when she s a fifty year old Natalie, post menopausal, savvy, sharp, a golf player, a maker of real estate deals, or eighty years old and rickety of bone, confined to a wheelchair whatever she becomes she ll never remember this exchange between the two of us outside the bathroom door Her life is building upward and outward, and so is Chris s They don t know it, but they re in the midst of editing the childhood they want to remember and getting ready to live as we all have to live eventually, without our mothers Three quarters of their weight is memory at this point I have no idea what they ll discard or what they ll decide to retain and embellish, and I have no certainty, either, of their ability to make sustaining choices.So much clear eyed wisdom about life I could go on quoting passages there are so many but I ll let you experience them yourselves.


  4. says:

    This is another of the books that was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2002, which is the year chosen for the latest historic shortlist project in The Mookse and The Gripes group.This is a quiet but rather impressive book On the surface not much happens The narrator Reta Winters is a writer and translator, happily married with three daughters The book follows her as she comes to terms with the strange behaviour of her eldest daughter, who has dropped out of university and now begs at a street corner bearing a sign saying Goodness.The book is largely about the inner life of a writer, and the parts about the process of writing a novel, the nature of a writer s relationship with a translator and the role of the editor are fascinating and often very funny The nature of goodness and what this means is also explored, and some of the chapters are letters which Reta has written but not sent, usually feminist critiques of articles she has read.One other thing that interested me was the chapter titles, most of which are one word, and generally neutral linking words Unless itself being a typical example For me the whole thing worked very well I have never read anything by Shields before but I will probably read .


  5. says:

    You wouldn t expect it from her, but Carol Shields has written a naughty book Put your yellow highlighter down There s no sex, but the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Stone Diaries is doing something indecorous here ribbing our notions of grief, even snickering at what inspires us.Her latest novel, a mischievous monologue called Unless, begins with lamentations Reta Winters once had it all a loving partner who s a successful doctor, three smart daughters, a beautiful house outside Toronto, and a stimulating career as a translator She had heard of sadness and pain, of course, but she confesses, I never understood what they meant Until now Happiness is not what I thought, she concludes Happiness is the lucky pane of glass you carry in your head It takes all your cunning just to hang on to it, and once it s smashed you have to move into a different sort of life Now, in this new dark world, it s clear to her that the past was filled with impossibly childish and sunlit days before I understood the meaning of grief Who needs a downer like this That s what s so strange It s a very funny book Even in the middle of her anguish, she suddenly looks into the camera and says with deadpan sarcasm, I am attempting to count my blessings Everyone I know advises me to take up this repellent strategy But nothing can alleviate the pain caused by her daughter s decision to drop out of college and live a life of virtue For months now, 19 year old Norah has been sitting on a street corner, begging, with a sign around her neck that says, GOODNESS She won t speak to her parents and friends, or even acknowledge their presence.For Reta, this calamity calls everything into question, particularly her family s baffling reflex to carry on with normal life The melody of their pleasant days stays essentially the same only the beat changes At night, her husband sets aside his study of trilobites to investigate mental illness She checks out a few books on the nature of goodness.Like the friends of Job, everyone offers Reta reasonable, but ultimately unsatisfying counsel Norah must be depressed it s just a phase her hormones are out of balance she s had a nervous breakdown she broke up with her boyfriend she s suffering from post traumatic stress All reassure her that it has nothing to do with the quality of her mothering, but Reta knows better.And then she slides around again and realizes that her daughter must be responding to the powerless condition of women by rejecting the chauvinistic world and retreating into a kind of impotent piety Aha a cause to fight Suddenly, her women s group seems relevant than ever The gains of the feminist movement were paltry, and the movement itself is stalled There are letters to write, outrage to be registered calmly , and corrections to be made without sounding shrill.Shields has captured something remarkably subtle and unsettling Reta s grief would be so much cleaner if she weren t cursed with such ironic self awareness, with moments of realizing that s she s a self pitying harridan How can she speak of her bottomless agony while translating the work of a Holocaust survivor How can she stomach the embarrassment of reading her own whining melodramatic scrawl On the other side, she can t keep her own wit from corroding every moment of inspiration No sooner does she sigh with teary relief than she realizes such moments are fake jewels twin babies in snowsuits that allow her to be tipped from skepticism to belief Even as she begins studying virtue, she feels compelled to note I am not, by the way, unaware of the absurdity of believing one can learn goodness through the medium of print Bookish people, who are often maladroit people, persist in thinking they can master any subtlety so long as it s been shaped into acceptable expository prose As a writer, Reta can t resist the reflex to stand outside herself, analyzing, calling into question every motive, pushing her emotions and thoughts in one direction or another just to see where they lead.She also begins writing a comic romance, knowing full well that she s retreating from the stubborn problems of her real life to enter a fictive world under her control But how, this wily novel asks, can a placebo work if you know it s a placebo What can keep the witty, self aware person from ricocheting between gassy inspiration and bitter shame In her own sophisticated way, Shields has sneaked a whoopee cushion under the soft pillow of self pity.Nothing is surprising, though, than the story s ending In a weird translation into comedy with some brilliant commentary on the publishing world the novel suddenly wraps everything up neatly Of course, Reta notices this tidy denouement, too After all, throughout the story she s one step ahead of us Novelists, she admits, are always being accused of indulging in the artifice of coincidence Since we first met her, Reta s taunts have trained us to be skeptical of all such artifice, but, come on, Shields suggests with a wink, everybody needs to rest sooner or later And ultimately, what other indulgence can we enjoy than the wonderful coincidence of being alive together This is one of those books that make you regret that reading is a solitary pleasure.http www.csmonitor.com 2002 0509 p1


  6. says:

    I am tempted to write, this was a beautifully written load of old cobblers and leave it at that, but that statement probably deserves to be elaborated on I didn t start out hating on this novel, it incrementally built up, misdeed upon misdeed I can t work out if Shields is basically thumbing her nose at any critic that has suggested woman s writing is too small, too focused on the domestic, not concerned with the larger crisis of man In Unless Shields seems to be purposely playing to those criticisms There is a lengthy love letter to silk scarf shopping, a discourse on the satisfactions to be found in housework, awkward judgements on appearance oh, the poor chunky daughter and a kind of Vogue Living esque passage about what constitutes a room and the importance of fragrant woods and perfectly faded kilim rugs This is all set against what is nominally a story about a daughters flight into vagrancy and her inexplicable search for GOODNESS It actually ends up being very little about Norah s actions but rather it seems like Shields has used this as a motif upon which to theorise about powerlessness and the plight of modern woman I find this an unforgivable abuse of a minor character I was desperate to hear from Norah herself or her sisters, her boyfriend anyone but the melancholy hand wringing of her mother Reta The explanation of Norahs behaviour when it does finally come, is so puzzling to me that I audibly muttered no, no, no when I read it It is all rather casually dealt with in a few pages like an afterthought Poor Norah.So, if this is not really about family disfunction or vagrancy, what is it about It seems to me to be most concerned with writing itself and specifically the struggles of woman writers to be taken seriously I wish this could have been done without these large sections from Reta s novels A Thyme in Bloom and My Thyme is Up both of which I would award a Good Reads rating of 1 star if I could, purely for the passages about Andy and his thrusting thrombone Was all this meant to be ironic , a writer with feminist sensibilities writing what seems like escapist soft romantic fiction Is it a parody of the kind of books woman are suppose to like and woman writers are expected to write I just plain gave up trying to dissect all layers of potential meaning Some books I dislike due to the writing style, others, as in this case are beautifully written but just fail to resonate Despite finding this all fairly dire I am still interested in reading Shields s Pulitzer prize winner novel The Stone Dairies as I think this novel just struck me at all the wrong angles.


  7. says:

    The 1001 books list is great for introducing you to authors that you were not previously familiar with It s like a little black book literary dating service and without shame or embarrassment it will lead you by the clammy hand to meet a new author without you feeling half witted, socially inept and geeky for making the effort or for not having made the effort earlier Here Shovelmonkey1, it says, meet some new authors Put your eyes between their pages and let their words roam around in your head Then, if it does get awkward and you want to do a runner, I won t judge you But you know you ll judge yourself, right So, the 1001 books list introduced me to Carol Shields via Unless, her last and apparently most popular work big thumbs up from many literary gurus and a teeny tiny mountain of award nominations Well thanks for the intro 1001 books list, but this one kind of bombed for me It was the literary blind date I had to run away from I approached this book with no preconceptions about what the story might be and then immediately failed to engage with it I didn t empathise with the character Reta Winters I just didn t really care about Reta, her novel, her husband, her nice house or her wayward daughter I was actually a bit interested in the ideas behind Norah and her pursuit of goodness but that never got expanded upon sufficiently for my liking which was shame because it was the most interesting part of the book Maybe this is a book that only speaks to a certain group of people and perhaps one day when I have wayward children of my own and am a parent, worried out of my head over the inexplicable eccentricities of my beloved children, then perhaps I ll pick up this book again and think right, so that s what this is all about.


  8. says:

    I waited patiently for this book to come out in softback so that I could read the final novel by Carol Shields It just so happened that it came out right around my wedding and so the book gathered dust on my nightstand as I was a little busy and preoccupied with wedding planning So I packed it and took it with me on my honeymoon I remember pulling it out of my book bag, slathering on some sunscreen and settling myself onto a raft in the pool.I finished the book in about two days with a wicked sunburn But what I remember the most was crying under my sunhat and sunglasses and glancing up to see that there was a row of readers seated at the edge of the pool 10 people of various ages, all voraciously reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire And then I noticed one of their numbers, an older woman with soft grey curls was reading Unless like me When our eyes met, we both noticed that the other was crying A knowing smile passed between us.Reta Winter s reevaluation of her own happiness, which, as in most of Shield s novels, works as a metaphor for the internal struggle and external struggle that each woman and women, respectively, have been going through since the soldiers came home from WWII and we all had to decide what we wanted to do and be with our lives what would make us happy is at the heart of this novel This is an incredibly introspective story, it will either work for you or it won t For me, I m not sure if it was the story, or the knowing that this would be the last novel I would read, for the first time, from the voice of Carol Shield, that made me weep .


  9. says:

    This is my favorite Carol Shields book so far, and that is saying a lot because I adore Carol Shields This novel was short listed for the Booker There is so much here, but it is portrayed in the classic slow, sensitive, Shieldsian manner Those who think there is nothing going on here or that it s too slow or boring are most certainly missing a great deal This novel invites a second or third read as well.


  10. says:

    A perfectly normal, healthy and congenial nineteen year old young woman who grew up in a closely knit and nurturing well to do family suddenly quits university, her family and her boyfriend to panhandle in a street corner of downtown Toronto.The novel is the youngster s mother s account of her experiences in dealing with the shocking loss of her lovely eldest daughter She makes a desperate attempt to come up with possible reasons for her derelict daughter s inconceivable action Being a translator from French to English of memoirs written by a renowned French feminist, who has long influenced her worldview about gender inequality, she develops a bent towards the theory that her daughter s action is an expression of her powerlessness in face of the world s entrenched prejudices towards women her only defense is withdrawal from life altogether Interviewing her daughter s boyfriend and university professor doesn t provide any rational clues Her desolation drives her to write imaginary letters lashing out at those writers whom she considers as sexist bigots Meanwhile, she struggles, along with her husband and the other two daughters, to continue living life as normal as she can manage, being aware all the while though of the big hole left in the fabric of the household.The denouement comes as quite disturbing but not too much of a surprise In these modern times, we all know how a traumatic event could exert damaging mental stress on an otherwise perfectly normal person But the reader is left to wonder if the immediate tangible cause a traumatic event is the only cause that fully explains the youngster s abrupt self abnegation Could there be an ultimate cause too Could the mother s maternal instinct be correct that the intangible cause is the incremental build up in the girl s young mind of innate fear and powerlessness evoked by what she perceives as a male dominant universe in which she would never achieve greatness What s so haunting about this novel is the realization that not even parents sacrificial love can shield their vulnerable young girls from some of the world s harshest realities.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Unless download Unless, read online Unless, kindle ebook Unless, Unless 8117c1a93ea8 Reta Winters,Year Old Successful Author Of Light Summertime Fiction, Has Always Considered Herself Happy, Even Blessed That Is, Until Her Oldest Daughter Norah Mysteriously Drops Out Of College To Become A Panhandler On A Toronto Street Corner Silent, With A Sign Around Her Neck Bearing The Word Goodness Back Cover