There is a lovely picture-soaked biography at the Carol Shields Literary Trust site and the CBC Obituary includes a biography, photographs, interviews with and about Carol Shields, readings from some of her works, and archived articles and materials. I’ve collected these quotes below (from her fiction and other writings), which consider or brush up against the question of identity: they feel quintessentially Shields-ish to me:
“This is, in the end, what matters: the novels themselves, and not the day-to-day life of the author, the cups of tea she sipped with her neighbours, the cream cakes she bought at a bakery.”
Jane Austen: A Penguin Life
All girls like me who were good at school but suffered from miserable girlhoods were sustained for years on end by the resources of the public libraries of this continent.
I very early formed the notion of being a writer, all the while knowing that this was impossible. Writers were like movie stars. Writers were men. […] My real life, as I saw it, was entirely predictable: I would get married, have children and live in a house much like the one I grew up in.
Interview with Joan Thomas (1994)
I am watching. My own life will never be enough for me. It is a congenital condition, my only, only disease in an otherwise lucky life. I am a watcher, an outsider whether I like it or not, and I’m stuck with the dangers that go along with it. And the rewards.
People wake up feeling ugly and lonely and weak and they’d just as soon hide out at home, right? But all they have to do is reconnect. Get their hearts restarted. It’s hard work being a person, you have to do it every single day.
Republic of Love
“Why don’t you ask me about me? Me, me, me. Like maybe why I’m going down to L.A. and what I want out of life and whose sheet I’m washing down at the laundromat every Saturday morning –
“Departures and Arrivals”
I stopped assembling; I discovered that I could bury in my writing the greater part of my pain and humiliation.
The Box Garden
They love the word ‘goodish,’ as in goodish sunsets, goodish travel bargains, goodish men.
Republic of Love
You touch the other so intimately and your care for him/her is so great that you can actually feel what it is like to be that person. I think that is one of our great longings in life – to be that close to another.
Interview with Marjorie Anderson (1993)
Married! It was another state of being, a state that was sealed like an envelope in its inviolability. The state of marriage was secret and safe, a circle of charmed light beyond the horizon of the easily capsized now.
A Fairly Conventional Woman
Sitting upstairs in an old sewing room and making up stories does not always feel like an appropriate occupation for a grown woman.
I always think that the people who read my books and respond to them are people who would be my friends; in fact, I met a woman who said she feels that she is me when she reads my books. It was the nicest thing anyone ever said to me.
Interview with Marjorie Anderson