Collected Stories, by Raymond Carver
Continuing my focus on the short story:
Without realizing their liaison, I met Carver’s wife in Atlanta in the eighties. As with most writing wannabes (I was only beginning to understand this art in my makeup), I sought her out at a book launch of hers and probably said too many silly and unwashed things to her. I do remember, though, telling her I had my own passion for poetry, but that I was already dabbling in fiction. Like most writers in such circumstances, she was a class act. She listened and nodded and said some now forgotten encouraging thing. But I do remember, at the mention of fiction’s seed in my soul, she gave me a wary look. Later, as I grew familiar with Carver, I understood where that wariness had its impetus. I digress, and I’ve barely started.
To my mind, these stories sit astride the likes of Hemingway and Steinbeck, but without Papa’s elevated style and Steinbeck’s literary mysticism. Carver’s stories seem more calibrated to the short form’s length and his style is more homespun and located in the style of Cormac McCarthy. There’s an element of humor here too, a taste of wild abandon that surely comes from his rural Arkansas background.
These are stories that I learn from. Not so much in an instructional way; rather in remembering my own rural Southern past and chasing it into fiction.
My rating: 19 of 20 stars
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