Books: Fashion Statements

Carol Shields' Dressing Up for the Carnival offers 22 tales about the costumes life requires us to wear

Some books of short stories, such as Joyce's Dubliners or Hemingway's In Our Time, are patently organized around a unifying subject or mood. Other collections simply gather under one set of covers whatever their authors have been writing since the last time their works were similarly bound together. Carol Shields' Dressing Up for the Carnival (Viking; 210 pages; $23.95), her third book of tales, is of the latter, grab-bag variety, offering 22 pieces, almost all of them culled from previous publications. And yet the result is not as random or eclectic as might be anticipated. Shields, whose novel The Stone Diaries...

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