Van has finished reading…The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

1 Apr

There is permanence in stone. It’s what we choose to build our monuments with, our houses. It frames our landscape and is the firmness beneath our feet. It can even teach us about the past; reveal eras in its striations, show richness or paucity in the sedimentary layers, cosset for us a fossil record from millennia ago. But the rest is all circumspection.
Daisy’s life began in a town built on stone. There are facts about her trajectory, touchstones that are documented. They are the fossil record of her existence. But the life – the living and breathing and feeling flesh-and-bloodness of her – is so much harder to pin down. This is a life seen through the eyes of others. Even Daisy as her own narrator (narrating in third person, mostly) admits to us the wayward nature of her own truth. How much do we ever really know of a person? Somewhere between the bald statistics and the truth there’s an answer.
Complete with family tree and inserted photographs of the family members, The Stone Diaries skates a path along the border between fiction and biography. The lack of trajectory, other than the inevitable march of time, weaves a subtle magic so that at times you find yourself having to remember just how big a fiction this work is. It is sometimes touching, sometimes funny – especially when ‘unintentionally’, those uncomfortable moments where laughter is the safest route, often tragic. Undoubtedly, it is a joy to read.


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