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Various Miracles
Cover of Various Miracles
Various Miracles
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The stories collected here offer an entrancing look at some of the various miracles of everyday life, the quirks of chance and coincidence, life's setbacks and improvisations. Carol Shields deftly draws us into the lives of a broad range of sharply observed characters, from the brilliant young violinist smothered by an overprotective family, to the elderly widow mowing her lawn while a long, passionate life buzzes around in her memory.

Blending wit and compassion, Shields illuminates moments when ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances, declarations of love and revelations that transform their lives. Sharp, skeptical and sympathetic, this collection presents Shields at her inimitable best in twenty-one miracles of the storyteller's art.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

The stories collected here offer an entrancing look at some of the various miracles of everyday life, the quirks of chance and coincidence, life's setbacks and improvisations. Carol Shields deftly draws us into the lives of a broad range of sharply observed characters, from the brilliant young violinist smothered by an overprotective family, to the elderly widow mowing her lawn while a long, passionate life buzzes around in her memory.

Blending wit and compassion, Shields illuminates moments when ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances, declarations of love and revelations that transform their lives. Sharp, skeptical and sympathetic, this collection presents Shields at her inimitable best in twenty-one miracles of the storyteller's art.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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    VARIOUS MIRACLESSeveral of the miracles that occurred this year have gone unrecorded.

    Example: On the morning of January 3, seven women stood in line at a lingerie sale in Palo Alto, California, and by chance each of these women bore the Christian name Emily.

    Example: On February 16 four strangers (three men, one woman) sat quietly reading on the back seat of the number 10 bus in Cincinnati, Ohio; each of them was reading a paperback copy of Smiley's People.

    On March 30 a lathe operator in a Moroccan mountain village dreamed that a lemon fell from a tree into his open mouth, causing him to choke and die. He opened his eyes, overjoyed at being still alive, and embraced his wife who was snoring steadily by his side. She scarcely stirred, being reluctant to let go of a dream she was dreaming, which was that a lemon tree had taken root in her stomach, sending its pliant new shoots upwards into her limbs. Leaves, blossoms and finally fruit fluttered in her every vein until she began to tremble in her sleep with happiness and intoxication. Her husband got up quietly and lit an oil lamp so that he could watch her face. It seemed to him he'd never really looked at her before and he felt how utterly ignorant he was of the spring that nourished her life. Now she lay sleeping, dreaming, her face radiant. What he saw was a mask of happiness so intense it made him fear for his life.

    On May 11, in the city of Exeter in the south of England, five girls (aged fifteen to seventeen) were running across a playing field at ten o'clock in the morning as part of their physical education program. They stopped short when they saw, lying on the broad gravel path, a dead parrot. He was grassy green in color with a yellow nape and head, and was later identified by the girl's science mistress as Amazona ochrocephala. The police were notified of the find and later it was discovered that the parrot had escaped from the open window of a house owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay, who claimed, while weeping openly, that they had owned the parrot (Miguel by name) for twenty-two years. The parrot, in fact, was twenty-five years old, one of a pair of birds sold in an open market in Marseilles in the spring of 1958. Miguel's twin brother was sold to an Italian soprano who kept it for ten years, then gave it to her niece Francesca, a violinist who played first with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and later with the Chicago Symphony. On May 11, Francesca was wakened in her River Forest home by the sound of her parrot (Pete, or sometimes Pietro) coughing. She gave him a dish of condensed milk instead of his usual whole-oats-and-peanut mixture, and then phoned to say she would not be able to attend rehearsal that day. The coughing grew worse. She looked up the name of a vet in the Yellow Pages and was about to dial when the parrot fell over, dead in his cage. A moment earlier Francesca had heard him open his beak and pronounce what she believed were the words "Ca ne fait rien."

    On August 26 a man named Carl Hallsbury of Billings, Montana was wakened by a loud noise. "My God, we're being burgled," his wife, Marjorie, said. They listened , but when there were no further noises, they drifted back to sleep. In the morning they found that their favorite little watercolor -- a pale rural scene depicting trees and a winding road and the usual arched bridge -- had fallen off the living-room wall. It appeared that it had bounced onto the cast-iron radiator and then ricocheted to a safe place in the middle of the living-room rug. When Carl investigated he found that the hook had worked loose in the wall. He patched the plaster methodically, allowed it to dry, and...

About the Author-
  • 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, and Swann. Shields's work has been translated into 33 languages.
Reviews-
  • Alice Munro

    "Carol Shield's stories have given me happiness, not just pleasure. They're prismatic; they delight at first by the clear and simple elegance with which they are made, then there's something so bountiful and surprising, like beautiful broken light."

  • Janette Turner Hospital "Carol Shields is a wonderful writer--wry, witty, wise and fiercely intelligent. Many of the stories in this collection are deliciously funny; all are memorable."
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    Random House of Canada
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Carol Shields
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