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Where I’m Calling From

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P to that point The breadth of the collection makes these 37 stories an extremely complete map of Carver territory of a particular area of America and of the specific texture of the pe Murakami on Carver

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The last story collection published during Carver's life he died in 1988 contains most of his greatest hits from his earlier books as well as seven stories that hadn't been collected u ‘ It ought to ma

Raymond Carver ☆ 2 Free download

Ople Carver writes about their difficult attempts at survival in a world where happiness does not arrive wrapped up in neat packages but comes in far peculiar parcels if it comes at al Miles Davis once s Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs comes in far peculiar parcels if it The Lost Predator (Primeval, comes at al Miles Davis once s

10 thoughts on “Where I’m Calling From

  1. says:

    The typical profile of an American adult reader of literature is a college educated professional making a decent salary in a choice environment such as the publishing industry law office consulting firm or college or university But how about the other America populated by men and women worlds away from ever reading literary works men and women living in the raw boned land of work boots crap jobs hard liuor chain smokes trailer camps hollering from foul mouths and breakdowns from beat up cars? Well welcome to Carver country There are 37 stories in this Raymond Carver collection As way of providing a taste of what the reader unfamiliar with the author might expect here is a short write up on four stories each story vintage Raymond CarverTHEY'RE NOT YOUR HUSBANDEarl is a salesman between jobs Earl goes to the diner where his wife Doreen works as a waitress on the night shift He overhears two men at the counter make less than flattering remarks about his wife's overly large posterior Then when Doreen leans over to scoop out ice cream we read The white skirt yanked against her hips and crawled up her legs What showed was girdle and it was pink thighs that were rumpled and gray and a little hairy and veins that spread in a berserk display The two men sitting beside Early exchanged looks The next morning Earl asks Doreen to go on a diet and lose a few pounds Doreen agrees and Earl buys a scale and with paper and pencil in hand keeps close track when Doreen steps on the scale Doreen has minimal success initially but then loses nearly 20 pounds over the next few weeks At this point Earl returns to the dinner but what happens as he sits at the counter does not fit in with his plans of redemption Ah to have a wife other men find attractive and desirableFATA fat man sits alone at a restaurant table for his evening meal He is so fat he would ualify for what we 21st century readers would term morbidly obese Unlike everyone else working at the restaurant the cook the busboy the other waitresses the narrator of the story who waits on his table is touched by the fat man's humanity And the trips to his table the greater her compassion and understanding We feel a kind of kinship with the narrator as she tells the story and speaks of the fat man's fat fingers his puffing as he sits at the table his referring to himself as we And when she is in bed that night with her boyfriend we are given the sense that she is at the beginning of a life transformation as a result of her contact with the fat manNEIGHBORSBookkeeper Bill and secretary Arlene feel isolated and see themselves as stick in the muds compared to freuent flyer on the go salesman Jim and wife Harriet Jim and Harriet go away on one of their many trips and as per usual leave their apartment key with their across the hall neighbors so Bill and Arlene can feed the cat and water the plants Reasonable reuest; the courtesy and community of neighbors However this time across the hall neighbors Bill and Arlene break routine their envy and jealousy runneth over First time in the apartment Bill raids the medicine chest and pockets Harriet's pills and then moves to the living room and helps himself to a couple of good swigs of Jim's Scotch Next time in Bill commits even extreme invasions of privacy And then Arlene takes her turn invading privacy an invasion leading to ooh a naughty discovery The story ends with an unexpected twist leaving the reader with no doubts as to the depth of the couple's alienation and sadnessVITAMINSThe narrator waxes floors during the night at the local hospital and lives with out of work Patti who in her uest for self respect via employment resorts to selling vitamins door to door After her initial success Patti is promoted given a crew of girls to oversee and an office in the local mall But the vitamin job takes over Patti's life and she hates it telling the narrator she even dreams of pitching vitamins to customers Shella one of the vitamin salesgirls loves Patti Shella gets drunk and passes out at Patti's Christmas party The next morning an injured Shella wants Patti to drive her to the hospital but the narrator won't let Shella wake up Patti A cursing Shella walks out never to be seen again The story continues and we as readers are given a clear view of a world where the uest for love is never a happy one and people fall back into listening to their favorite sentimental music and hard drinking lots of hard drinking with dreams of escape to such places as Portland or Phoenix In Carver country what people are really trying to escape from is their own lives The author captures their humanity and their despair in telling detail

  2. says:

    ‘ It ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we're talking about when we talk about love’Life has a way of breaking even the strongest of hearts of dashing families friendships and lovers against the cold rocks of reality leaving hopes and dreams to drown beneath the waves of approaching daysThrough his short life—the chord of life severed by his own vices—Raymond Carver May 25 1938 – August 2 1988 created a body of work that dives into the wreckage of such lives to bring their stories back to the surface giving a voice to the red rimmed eyes of divorce and the hollow cavities of loneliness addiction and remorse These voices sing out in sweet simplicity; stories pared down to the bones of reality without need of any slick mechanics fantastical ingredients or even on occasion any concrete plotlines to deliver a walloping punch to the readers gut and soulThrough a style forged in the flames of his tutelage under John Gardner and the controversial editing of Gordon Lish Carver gives only the bare necessities of story in a deceptively small package permeated with an infinitude of universal messages about life and love while giving voice to a lower to middle class being strangled by finance booze love and their own undoings Raymond Carver lived a life not unlike many of his own characters—the over educated sorts working blue collar jobs and returning home to a spiraling hell of alcohol and matrimonial disuiet Coming from a poverty stricken family Carver grew up with books being a small but important comfort in his life Marrying 16 year old Maryann Burk when he himself was 19 and bearing their first child a year later the family spent years criss crossing the country as Ray enrolled in creative writing courses and worked in sawmills as a delivery man and janitor many stories in Carver’s first collection Will You Please Be uiet Please? were written during his night janitorial shifts at a hospital while his wife waited tables to help support his literary aspirations The struggles and strife of a working family are illuminated all throughout his stories and carry with them the deep felt understanding of someone who has truly witnessed the ugly underbelly of existence Carver breathes life into his characters with voice and action devoid of artifice or affectation making them feel so realistic that they often take space in memory as if they were someone you had the misfortune of being stuck conversing with on a late night bus or barstool ‘ That's all we have finally the words and they had better be the right ones’What truly sets Carver apart is his signature simplistic delivery often labeled ‘minimalism’ compared to authors such as Ernest Hemingway¹ Prescribing the notion of ‘show don’t tell’ these stories fructify fantastically without much need of plot to take root in or description to germinate meaning leaving ample opportunity for the reader to deduce motives and context as seeds in their own mind While these stories may initially seem like nearly empty four wall cell of realism with just enough lamplight to find their way about anything additional would feel as bloated adornment or decorative furniture when all is needed is a uiet place to ponder and reflect Even the beating heart of each story remains relatively hidden from sight visualized through the spaces left by its absence or seen in uick shadowy flashed lurking among the forest of words Similar to the suitcase in the film Pulp Fiction everything revolves around something that the characters understand and hold like a thorn in the hearts yet we the readers are left in camera angles carefully placed as to obscure the contents insideThe story ‘ Why Don’t You Dance’ is a prime example of Carver’s seeming magic making in which a man has reassembled the layout of his home in the front yard In the kitchen he poured another drink and looked at the bedroom suite in his front yard The mattress was stripped and the candy striped sheets lay beside two pillows on the chiffonier Except for that things looked much the way they had in the bedroom – nightstand and reading lamp on his side of the bed nightstand and reading lamp on her sideHis side her sideHe considered this as he sipped the whiskey So much is said without having to draw attention to it Especially after an offhanded comment by the man sitting out getting drunk and selling his stuff to a young couple about to start their first place together that the neighbors ‘thought they had seen everything by now’ it can be inferred that there was a breakdown of marriage but the details are nowhere to be found Stories like this take hold on a reader through the hospitality of welcoming them into being an active participant and letting their imagination take Carver’s by the waist and go dancing through his pages Another impressive techniue he often applies is to frame a smaller story within a larger story such as in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love or Where I’m Calling From the latter included in a Best Stories of American fiction edited by John Updike The internal stories are told by characters of the external story as a sort of juxtaposition on way to make sense of the world around them Neither the internal or external are fleshed out but by pulling the subtly tied strings binding them together a potent portrait of life and love is created It is his light touch and subtlety that makes for such a powerful and unforgettable read though so much is unsaid and unaccessed ’The final lines of Why Don’t You Dance perfectly summarize the Carver experience She kept talking She told everyone There was to it and she was trying to get it talked out After a time she uit trying The girl tells everyone she knows about the events hoping to find something inside something she knows is in there but can’t uite reach Resolution or emotional epiphany is not always present in the final lines much like in reality You often come away feeling vague sadness and a carrying a weight pregnant with meaning that you can’t uite access but understand all the same‘ No iron can pierce the heart with such force as a period put at just the right place Isaac BabelDespite purgatorial settings of life surrounded by crumbling manors of marriage and drowning pools of booze Carver’s stories aren’t aiming to sink the reader in pit of despair but to capture a bittersweet solace as the characters find a new meaning and perspective caught in a fleeting glimpse during their darker hours There are incredibly beautiful moments that flower all around and Carver has the ability to kill with a solitary line or observation Distance my personal favorite features a young man leave his wife and sick child to go fishing despite her vitriolic pleas against this Driving the boy looked out at the stars and was moved when he considered their distance Such a simple observation at a key moment cracks open the floodgates of interpretation and causes the reader to look at humanity in a new light as well—how sad and strange the distance between human beings even the ones who love each other dearly Or take the closing moments of Cathedral a staple on the college literature degree diet when a man closes his eyes allows the hand of a blind man to wrap around his own and draws a cathedral by feel so the other can ‘see’ the metaphysical power of the structure Both men are opened to a new understanding yet it is the man that can see that feels a power so strong yet one he cannot fully comprehend Even the death of a child as in A Small Good Thing one of those stories that reads as ‘literature with a capital L’ and makes me want to stand before a classroom and shout ‘this is how you write this is what a short story is all about’ is brought to it’s knees by a simple act of humanity by a lonely bakerSubtlety is the key to the power of each story Carver delivers such angles as to completely mesmerize and pulls the emotional punch as if he were a magician making doves appear out of thin air Distance is a story centered around a moment of reconciliation and happiness between a young couple being told by the man in the present before he stands to gaze solemnly out the window But he stays by the window remembering that life They had laughed They had leaned on each other and laughed until the tears had come while everything else—the cold and where he’d go in it—was outside for a while anyways Carver breaks my heart Without warning we are reminded that relationships—even the ones doomed to nightmarish shouting matches under a torrential downpour of tears before severing the limbs of love—have their tender moments That broken love was once love That we are all human all have needs feelings and hope and that we succumb to pain to vice to selfishness and self loathing The human heart is what beats on each page Carver delivers pure and true slices of life where right and wrong are extraneous moralizing in a discussion on human nature ‘ There is no answer It's okay But even if it wasn't okay what am I supposed to do?’ These are the moments in life that shape us forever and though we may not understand what to do we have to always keep on moving or perishThe style that Carver has become known and loved—or even hated seeing as we live in a world where almost everything must inevitably come under the knife of detractors²has an interesting story of development As evinced in his collection Beginners containing early versions of the stories that saw the light of day in the re titled collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Carver was much wordy and descriptive in his drafts than the Carver typically read His first published story Furious Seasons has been stylistically compared to that of William Faulkner yet Carver is known for minimalism While enrolled in John Gardner’s writing courses Gardner recommended to use fifteen words in place of anything said in twenty five and Gordon Lish would later advise reducing anything said in fifteen words to a mere five Lish’s editing of Carver for publication is a highly discussed and controversial topic³ as many stories were edited down by nearly half and arrived on the other side of Lish with major scenes particularly scenes of emotional closure removed This is a discussion better suited for an upcoming review of Beginners however it is the sparse and sharp style of Carver that really grabs me His later stories especially those under the ‘New Stories’ section of Where I’m Calling From are slightly beefier and lengthier and proceed towards of a conclusive feel than the earlier ones Before knowing any of this I had remarked that Carver’s stories felt like perfect classroom examples of what makes a good short story and perhaps it is because so much was removed as to leave much open to interpretation and much of this may be attributed to Lish's keen insight into knowing exactly what is necessary and what is while still great—I'm sure to a writer each blessed word and mark of punctuation is like a child born from their blood and having someone else feel some are disposible—possibly extraneous in a story that could be made into a lean and deadly beast of literary perfection Regardless of any opinions on the editing the style of these stories is outright perfection and personally I find Lish to be the White Knight of the editing pen They are a stealthy knife through the ribs rather than a walloping punch to the face and the vagueness is what keeps them haunting your mind like a ghost for days to comeThese are stories that really spoke to me arriving seemingly as if just at the right time to properly ensnare my heart during a brutally snowy winter following a season of dismantling in my own life It is stories like these that seem like gifts of consolation from the world than a mere collection of pages between two covers and the musing and soul searching perfectly combined with my own as I found out what it really was in life that mattered and the people I really wanted to spend it with Having recently suffered the scars of divorce many of the depravities and pain found in the stories of aborted loves spoke to me on a deep level These stories should be court ordered to anyone filing for divorce Carver perfectly frames life in his fiction and each story rings true in the heart since reading these I've often found moments where I think 'I wish Carver wrote this moment' He captures the very basic human emotion and deftly details the hard moments we all feel at one time or another These stories are the floor dropping out from under you the moments when you realized the dream has ended the realization that love has been lost the blind eye towards your own undoings or the inability to accept your own addictions Carver champions human nature in a crisp and clean style delivered with perfect nuance and subtlety and builds vast visions of understanding realization and reflection Carver is the writer for me these are stories I hold dear in my heart and have changed me forever as a reader These stories remind me why I fell in love with life and literature in the first place55‘ certain things around us will change become easier or harder one thing or the other but nothing will ever really be any different I believe that We have made our decisions our lives have been set in motion and they will go on and on until they stop But if that is true then what?’¹In the essay Fires from the collection bearing the same name Carver admits to having grown up being a fan of Hemingway and notes that Gardner advised him to ‘ Read all the Faulkner you can get your hands on and then read all of Hemingway to clean the Faulkner out of your system’ Carver however declines to consider either author as a particular influence but only as authors that helped spur his desire to write Interestingly enough Carver’s pre Lish work or manuscripts before reaching Lish are often compared to Faulkner whereas the final products that reached publication are compared to Hemingway But that is a discussion for another day and forthcoming maybe review of Beginners²I have read a few accounts of critics rallying against what they considered a glorification of domestic violence and alcoholism so than that of his style Though like any notable author many Carver imitators did arise I can’t uite place the reference but I recall a poem? mentioning repulsion towards the dime a dozen Carver knock offs littering the poets literary circle I do not believe Carver was attempting to glorify or make light of domestic issues but to give a voice to these moments as they are grim aspects of life³ Stephen King wrote an article for the New York Times taking a firm stance against Lish’s editing portraying Carver as a people pleaser weakened by alcoholism being pushed around by a tyrannical Lish with his ‘meat cleaver’ editing

  3. says:

    I wanted the first book I read in 2018 to be special and this classic selection of stories by Raymond Carver – the final book he published during his lifetime he died in 1988 at the incredibly young age of 50 – fit the billHere presented in chronological order are 37 stories representing than two decades’ work Some of them are among the most powerful and influential works of short fiction published in the late 20th century Most are written in a clear unpretentious voice that’s suffused with wisdom and hearty good humour but also a particular kind of pathos that Carver captured – and knew – so wellHis characters are ordinary people often from the Pacific Northwest struggling to get by and faced for the time of the story with a significant complication A couple’s child might be in a coma after being struck by a car on his birthday “A Small Good Thing”; a man might draw on his own history of violence to defend his son accused of stealing a bicycle “Bicycles Muscles Cigarettes”; another man might worry about his restless constantly dissatisfied elderly mother “Boxes” Most of these stories are about marriages breaking up slowly or suddenly The marriage might have broken up already and a man it’s usually a man can’t deal with it – he drops by his ex wife’s home after he’s trashed it in a jealous rage during the Christmas holidays “A Serious Talk”; he’s tasked with finding a babysitterhousekeeper for his two children “Fever”; he’s obsessed with a blockage in his ear while living on his own and constantly drinking champagne “Careful”Several stories feature male protagonists who are out of work while their wives take on jobs “They’re Not Your Husband” “Put Yourself In My Shoes” “Are These Actual Miles?” “Vitamins” And oh yeah there are drinkers Lots of drinkers Many conversations take place in a boozy haze of distraction and false cheer One of the saddest stories I’ve ever read is called “Gazebo” about a couple who have holed themselves up in a room at the motel where they work while they drink and hash out their marital problems ignoring the customers at receptionIt contains the following paragraph about the couple’s relationship to alcohol Drinking’s funny When I look back on it all of our important decisions have been figured out when we were drinking Even when we talked about having to cut back on our drinking we’d be sitting at the kitchen table or out at the picnic table with a six pack or whiskey And this one line in the story simply yet profoundly captures their end of the line desperation There was this funny thing of anything could happen now that we realized everything had” WowReading these stories in a short period of time made me sensitive to some of Carver’s techniues The faux epiphany In my review of Carver’s Cathedral I already pointed out his sometimes contrived use of the narrator simply stumbling upon an epiphany I noticed it here too “I don’t know why but it’s then I recall the affectionate name my dad used sometimes when he was talking to my mother” “Boxes”; and “I’d like to say it was at this moment as I stood in the fog watching her drive off that I remembered a black and white photograph of my wife holding her wedding bouuet” “Blackbird Pie” These passages are like the author nudging us to think Oh here's the significance The story within the story Carver is excellent at having characters tell tales within tales And sometimes as in “Whoever Was Using This Bed” and “The Student’s Wife” the story will become a monologue Incidentally both of these stories feature insomniacs As someone who watches a lot of plays I’m sad Carver didn’t write for the theatre His dialogue is so good Yes I know the films Birdman and Short Cuts draw on his work The humour I didn’t appreciate just how funny Carver could be until I read “What Do You Do In San Francisco?” a story narrated by a postman who tells us about a “beatnik” couple who move into the neighbourhood on his route The man’s nosiness and judgements on the young couple perhaps modelled after the young Carver and his then wifegirlfriend? are so amusing I literally laughed out loud while reading them He shows doesn't tell Carver can describe a gesture that in a few words precisely captures what a person’s thinking He doesn’t have to tell you someone’s depressed or sad By showing you what they’re doing you know thatSigh Writing all this makes me a little dissatisfied Picking apart Carver’s stories like this takes away a bit of their magic There’s a mystery at the heart of stories like “Fat” “Cathedral” “A Small Good Thing” “Fever” “Why Don’t You Dance?” and “Are These Actual Miles?” that should stay mysteries They suggest profound things about the human condition our frailties our contradictions our attempts at redemption Much has been written about Carver's final published story “Errand” a loose retelling of the death of Russian playwright and short story master ChekhovThe setting of course is far removed from Carver’s other fiction and I’m sure it was inspired by the author’s feelings about his own impending death But what you realize is that it’s not the grand event itself that captures Carver’s interest but the little things happening on the sidelines the small moments that only an artist like this – surely Chekhov's eual in his insight into human behaviour – could capture honour and make real and memorable

  4. says:

    5 starsIn keeping with my “study” of the short story I figured it was about time I picked up Raymond Carver Call me a late bloomer The only story I had previously read by him was Cathedral which is excellent This is basically a story about a skeptical somewhat superficial man who is taught by a blind man how to “see”The 37 stories in this 526 page collection are arranged chronologically The final story called Errand unpublished at the time of Carver’s untimely death begins with the single word sentence “Chekhov”; Carver is often compared to Chekhov who also died at a young age Carver has also often been described as a minimalist I understand this description but find it somewhat simplistic Sure he uses simple language in short sentences; but when reuired he gives plenty of time and space to establish the raw material he needs to make a character’s growth believable Carver’s characters are often summed up as ordinary people; as any random person we might pass in the street – at first glance His genius was to use this superficial first impression then to make great use of sub text to reveal deep characterization Another oft heard idea about Carver is that he employed trickery and would throw the reader a “curve ball” at the end I would contend that Carver used techniue to lull the reader – like the “sleeper” yo yo move – stringing the reader out only to bring closure with a snap; with a uick flick the meaning of the story is disclosed In the case of A Small Good Thing I cried As for What’s In Alaska when I realized what was really going on in this couple’s marriage I abruptly stopped laughing Carver had played me as a reader and I was left in awe at his skill It’s worthwhile picking up this book even if you choose not to read every story This is the first time I’ve read an entire collection of short stories without interruption But do read as well as the ones above Elephant; So Much Water So Close to Home; and the title story Where I’m Calling From These stories stay with you They are uniuely Carver – no one could possibly imitate him – because I don’t even believe they can be categorized And the final seven stories published after Carver’s death show that he was heading in a new direction Even at that point he had established himself as one of the best short story writers out there How far and where he might have gone is anyone’s guess

  5. says:

    A collection of short stories from a writer considered by many to be one the master of the modern short story Many of the stories have a flavor of the author’s youth let’s say the 1940’s and 50’s since Carver was born in 1938 and died at age 50 even though they were written in the 1970’s and 1980’s The stories have acuired a patina of uaintness from that era boys on bikes going fishing in the local creek; door to door salesmen; everyone smokes; everyone drinks scotch; the mailman knows everyone on his route; people call their neighbor “Mr Johnson” But these are stories of modern life usually with a raw edge divorce; alcoholism; infidelity; nasty neighbors Great stories

  6. says:

    Murakami on Carver I've never read so many stories about divorcees unhappy marriages or relationships dysfunctional families and alcoholics Carver's writing was incredibly real and this collection will definitely stay in my memory I'll be picking this up again down the track and maybe I will connect with it on a deeper level as I catch up to the ages of the characters whom are generally older than 30I'd been interested in reading Carver since Haruki Murakami had consistently praised him in his interviews Murakami had translated Carver's collection over 14 years into Japanese and discussed his personal and professional life and writing in great detail in a 40 page interview devoted to Carver from this book I'm lucky to be able to read as a Murakami fan Here are some excerpts my translation from the interview in September 2004 for the Japanese literary magazine 文學界 Bungakukai While Carver's prose was realist his stories contained surprisingly strong anti realism components Things incredibly radical However there are some people who ignore those parts and just say What's new about his writing? All these stories are just plain realism giving a simple perfunctory assessment On the other hand others insistently praise his writing He portrays the everyday lives of American blue collar workers brilliantly only gathering up what's on the surface In this sort of context I think Carver's true literary value was something difficult to ascertain We should also keep in mind that because Carver was a writer who grew up inside academicism he used to be entangled in rather fruitless debates such as Are creative writing courses meaningful? For such trivial matters to settle down and a proper assessment of Carver's writing to be reached I think some time is needed but in any case I believe a fair number of the 70 something short stories Carver left will be passed onto future generations as classics p267What I think Carver did was utilise his own uniue system in slicing up the aspects of a situation or the world and reconstructing them into the shape of a story Of course this is or less something many authors attempt In that kind of operation the writing was not a ingredient that held an especially high importance for him It's just that going down that road of reconstruction in other words tightening the screw on his own system of writing fiction Carver's writing style surfaced into existence as a necessary product In the cases of Fitzgerald and Capote things sort of begin from the style of writing Needless to say that isn't everything but there's a wide domain managed by the writing However with Carver the writing style was satisfactory with being at a bare minimum Using bicycles as an example it would be a little crude to say a bike you'd use for shopping but something like a ten speed bike was not necessary If the writing style was a truly necessary one then even if it wasn't attractive what mattered was that it did the job For example with such a simple sentence as The telephone rang while he was running the vacuum cleaner just plonking it at the start of a story brings a mysteriously strong presence with itI still love translating Fitzgerald and Capote but personally I don't really feel that I'd like to write such elegant prose Just like with gazing at beautiful craftwork you'd be impressed thinking this is wonderful but you wouldn't want to copy it Well okay even if I wanted to I wouldn't be able to and what I want to do is something very different anyway If there's something I've learnt from Carver it's not going to be something individual that can be picked out such as the writing style techniue or storytelling It would be something like a recognition of how an author establishes their own uniue system of story composition and an efficient yet earnest way of bringing that to fruition; or perhaps a readiness to vow to live life carrying that recognition pp 285 286For Raymond Carver the moral bare minimum was to write with desperation as if expending a piece of his own soul thus he couldn't stand people who didn't act on such morals He was a kind warm and gentle person but in an essay he confessed that he couldn't feel affection as a friend should towards those who compromised on writing or those he could only conclude must be compromising on writing In such cases his point is that he wouldn't say He's a nice guy but but the perspective of a nice guy disappears altogether With someone like that near you you really feel like you need to be serious and give your all p297June 25 2015

  7. says:

    275 This book includes the best stories from other collections including What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Choosing this sweeping collection of over 3 dozen stories as an introduction to Carver was a mistake Carver is known for his minimalism the “less is ” school The flip of that was certainly true for me The I read the less I liked the stories After the first few stories I would have rated the book a solid 4 stars By the end my rating was hovering around 2 stars The stories are skillfully drawn With a few strokes Carver outlines a boozy sad world of despair infidelity and bursts of violence The problem for me is that after a while the stories start blending with an oppressive sameness like grayscale sketches that need to be filled in

  8. says:

    Miles Davis once said when asked why he played such minimalist modal melodies when his contemporaries were going for the fevered manic sound of be bop I try to only play the notes that matterThat's Raymond Carver Sparse deceptively simple and capable of tearing your soul out by hitting the right notes consistently and with puritySome of these stories sometimes didn't even strike me as I read them I'd put the book down walk away and hours later not be able to shake the images Other times I'd read a line and feel ashamed for my abuse of adjectives and hyperbole as a writer right then and there Carver cuts through it all and delivers the literary version of Kind of Blue in the process

  9. says:

    I'm Callin' From Where? And everything you love starts to disappearThe devil takes your hand and says no fear'Have another shot just one beer'Yeah I've been thereThat's why I'm hereKenny Chesney That's Why I'm Here 1997 The Hoff HammeredUpon starting my own literary renaissance as part of a mid life identity crisis about 9 years ago I hadn't heard of Raymond Carver On the New Yorker's monthly fiction podcast I heard a reading of Carver's short story Chef's House I was moved by this short short story about a guy named Chef who cleans up temporarily and resumes his relationship with his long time girlfriend but then got back to digging his hole A familiar story if you're close to an alcoholic or addict Lord knows Carver was each morning he saw one in the mirror Carver and Cheever wrote alcoholics better and realistic than anyone because as they came to admit they were so afflicted I think that's a big reason why their stories are so melancholy about boozers and bad relationships; they always had the feeling that they couldn't live with alcohol nor could they really live without it Booze takes a lot of time and effort if you're going to do a good job with it” Carver Chef's HouseCathedral is one of my 3 personal favorite short stories It's the perfect illustration of why one should reserve judgment on others be tolerant and one could well be changed in the most dramatic cathartic ways by those our prejudice tells us seem least likely capable of doing soThis is the last collection of short stories by Carver who died from lung cancer in 1988 at the age of 50The stories primarily revolve around 2 related traumas a collapsed or collapsing marriage or long term relationship and alcoholism He survived both He surely wrote what he knew It's not a collection that I'd recommend to someone suffering clinical depression 43 stars

  10. says:

    Obliuity ellipses define Carver's minimal prose It's a threadbare style that doesn't give you much to chew on but somehow it captures the threadbare lives scattered across these stories perfectly There's sadness desolation here that would numb you to the point of oblivion the coiling despair tightening tightening around you like a python's grip till you are swallowed whole into its blackness Carver takes the ephemera and flotsam of non descript everyday life that no one would stop to consider let alone turn into subject for writing he makes it work because into these scattered shards of truth you'll perhaps glimpse a moment or two from your own experience when life was threatening to go off the rails lurching from one drink to another one meaningless relationship to another one jaded conversation to another with you there laughing at it all because if you didn't laugh you would probably break down lose yourself to the ever approaching madness to the simmering violence that was just itching to let loose Carver's characters grapple with loneliness guilt heartbreak infidelity broken marriages alcoholism job loss bankruptcy a sense of ennui disconnect from their once joyous core a hopeless striving to recover that a desire to escape from their own lives—uite a smorgasbord of woes on their existential platter really There are some things that give them company—a few run down records books on makeshift bookshelves fishing trip with buddies chain smoking cream sodas and hard liuor always the liuor There's some genuinely moving stuff here best enjoyed when you are feeling down because when you hit the rock bottom with these stories; there's no way to go but up—chaos bringing back order madness leading to sanityThis four stars rating is being given on the overall effect of this collection As is with any short story collection it's a mixed bunchHere are the ones I liked'Why Don't You Dance?' my favourite story overwhelming sadness here With the privacy of his life thrown out into the front yard for the whole neighborhood to snicker at a broken man indulges a young couple who assume it must be a yard sale'Where I'm Calling From' the story which gives this collection its name is remarkable as a textbook example of Carver's indirect style where the horrors of a relapsed alcoholic's life is presented via the recounting of secondary characters' lives at the dry out facility'Nobody Said Anything' a story that broaches the effect of a messy parental fight on the two sons focusing most of the time on a fishing trip instead'Gazebo' a married couple having a meltdown after the husband's affair is discoveredThis story was referred to in Gass' essay 'A Failing Grade for the Present Tense'— needless to say Gass is no fan of minimalism unless the writer happened to the great Beckett'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' it ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love” The old couple in this story— yeah that was love'Neighbors' a young couple in charge of a financially better off couple's house during the latter's holidays tries to impersonate their lives'So Much Water So Close to Home' this story made it to Altman's Short Cuts 1993 the one about couple of guys on a fishing trip who discover a girl's dead body in the river carry on with their camping holiday Two things are certain people no longer care what happens to other people; and 2 nothing makes any real difference any longer'A Small Good Thing' another one that made it to the Altman movie— a couple coping with the sudden loss of their little child on the day of his 8th b'day a grumpy baker who keeps crank calling them for the uncollected cake He was a baker He was glad he wasn’t a florist It was better to be feeding people This was a better smell anytime than flowers'The Collectors' the face of desperation— the vacuum cleaner salesman here reminded me of Jack Lemmon's visit to a potential client's house in Glengarry Glen Ross'Boxes' a son's guilt over his mother's manic house shifting— there's no peace anywhere 'cause no matter where you go how do you escape from yourself'Fever' a harried father trying to look after his two young children manage his job household after his wife leaves him for his colleagueI was hoping the story featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh's portion in Short Cuts would be here—it was a perfect example of the absurdity irony underlying Carver's humour but it wasn't here

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