The Orange Fish
Emerging from these twelve beautifully
articulated stories are portraits of men and women whose
affairs and recoveries in life take us into worlds that
are both new and yet unnervingly familiar. A smile of
recognition and a shock of surprise await readers of these
finely crafted stories. From the magical orange fish itself
-- enigmatic and without age -- to holiday reunions; from
the passions and pains of lovers and friends to the moving
uncertainty of a Parisian vacation, this exquisite collection
is bound to delight and enchant Carol Shields' fans everywhere.
The Orange Fish
is also available in Collected
here to order.
Reading [these stories] gives you
a sense of art spilling over into life....Even the briefest
and apparently arbitrary details of life seem incandescent."
Marian Engel Award 1990
The Orange Fish
from Publishers Weekly
Although a variety of well-realized voices
animate the 12 stories in Shields's fine collection, they
are all plainspoken and direct--the hallmarks of her sturdy
prose. All stories except three are set in her native
Canada; most have as protagonists people locked into themselves,
suffused with nostalgia, regret, incommunicable longing--and
sometimes fulfilled by flashes of communication and tentative
hope. In several stories, ordinary people undergo metamorphosis:
in the title piece, a couple who acquires a lithograph
of an orange fish is suddenly accepted into a charmed
circle; in "Chemistry" another group is bonded in a magical
way by a shared interest; "Hazel" is a widow who acquires
job skills and confidence and expects to take control
of her destiny--only to discover that "her life is an
accident and she has blundered into the heart of it."
The most distinctive story is "Collision," which hinges
upon the notion that the earth's atmosphere is composed
of the "biographical debris" of everyone who has ever
lived. Shields's narrative method is suggested in one
tale as "the way a human life drains toward one revealing
scene." The author of the accomplished novel Swann should
widen her audience with these perceptive tales.
(Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information,
Infused with a sly humour, these
poignant stories revel in the ordinary, with a few
side-strips to the sublime......both moving and wry."
Snatching profundity from the
jaws of the banal is Shields' speciality......"
Shields is a sympathetic storyteller
who brings her quirky, touching characters to exhuberant
- New York
Peter Gzowski talks with Carol
Shields on CBC Radio about The Orange Fish
in The Orange Fish, a new collection of short fiction
by the Winnipeg author Carol Shields are a disparate
group but they share a certain trait. They tend to
be ordinary people, powerless, maybe a little afraid.
One woman hopes to reduce life's complexities by posting
on her fridge an encouraging slogan. Another woman,
a mother, would rather not know about her son's amputated
leg. They're survivors whose survival tactics are
very much at the heart of Carol Shields' fiction and
I'm happy to welcome Carol Shields now. Good morning.
a fair summary of what you're getting at in this book?
||Yes. I am
very happy with your summary I have to say.
do it all myself so I'm even happier with it.
talk about Orange for a moment and then we'll talk
start counting - I had to read this in page strips
which is a nuisance when you want to read in bed so
I didn't do as good a job as I may have. But there
are so many orange references in every story I wondered
is there an orange in every story?
||I have no
idea. You mean you find this right through the whole
there's an orange fish, an orange sun, an orange plastic
bag, an orange subway pass, orange hair, orange….
Good Lord. This is operating unconsciously and I didn't
even know it. I have an orange fixation. The title
story is of course The Orange Fish certainly is deliberate
but I must have these colours floating through my
brain. No, no. The Orange Fish came about because
I actually own - I have to confess - I own a picture
called The Orange Fish which I've had for years and
I love it.
These are wonderful stories."
- Books in
Shields is able to give some of
the most complex accounts of human nature I've read
in a short story."
- San Francisco
A wise, expansive voice… the author
turns normal everyday memories and events into poetic