Startle and Illuminate: Carol
Shields on Writing
For Shields's devoted readers, Startle
and Illuminate reveals her own thoughts on why we
readto be the other, to touch and taste the experience
of the other; and why we writefor the joy of the
making, to reimagine our world, to discover patterns and
uncover forms that echo our realities as well as interrogate
them, to imagine alternate worlds. It is a beautiful legacy.
What is valuable...is the glimpse
this slim volume affords into the creative mind of
an author whose work continues to exert an influence
on the development of literature in Canada more than
a decade after her untimely death."
- Quill &
here to order.
In the course of her extraordinary career,
which included the novels The Stone Diaries, Larry's
Party, The Republic of Love and Unless,
as well as poetry, short stories, biography and plays,
Carol Shields was unfailingly encouraging of other writers.
She read and commented on her friends' manuscripts. She
taught writing classes and she spoke and wrote on the
craft of writing. Her own discipline rarely faltered.
Her daily practice was to write a new page, then edit
the page written the day before, then repeat, until, after
a year or so, her book was finished. Now in her own words,
as clear and straightforward as a glass of water, comes
Startle and Illuminate, the best possible guide
to the writing process, from conception to publication.
This essential work, drawn by her daughter Anne Giardini
and grandson Nicholas Giardini from her voluminous correspondence
with other writers, essays, notes, comments, criticism
and lectures, is a last gift from one of our finest novelists
meant for both aspiring and established writers. It helps
answer some of the most fundamental questions about writing:
such as, why we write at all, whether writing can be taught,
what keeps a reader turning the pages, and how a writer
knows when a work is done.
of Carol Shields’s advice illuminates the writing life
The Globe and Mail
by Marsha Lederman
‘indecently curious’ Carol Shields (includes an excerpt)
New reflections from the beloved author on men, women,
and why she wrote
by Donna Bailey Nurse