This is why I read novels: so I can escape my own unrelenting monologue. (p. 144)
In some ways, I feel like reading Carol Shields' novel Unless has changed my life.
I can't completely explain it at the moment.... in part because I'm not sure I've totally digested the book, in part because I don't want to ruin it for any book club members who might be reading this.
I just feel changed. And vaguely confused -- what to read now? Shall I go down the easy road and read something simple that takes little to no thought? Would reading the work of a male author at the moment be a betrayal of all I've learned? Is it fair to immediately compare and contrast Margaret Atwood's work?
(Side note: Don't you love how Shields actually manages to mention the works of Atwood and Munro? Or how she discusses the first George W. Bush election win in this way that at once captures the time she is writing about yet seems totally timeless. I love this about her work, how she makes it real and contemporary without sacrificing longevity.)
I feel like a whole new world has opened up, like there's a whole new shelf at the bookstore waiting for me.
And yes, reading a woman writing about a woman writing makes me want to write.
I'm sure this reads as a massive tangent -- if you've read the novel perhaps you understand or perhaps you'll think I'm awfully flighty.
Parting words (though not, at all, words from the end of the book):
Unless is the worry word of the English language. It flies like a moth in the ear, you hardly hear it, and yet everything depends on its breathy presence. Unless -- that’s the little subjunctive mineral you carry along in your pocket crease. It’s always there, or else not there. (p. 224)