With this, his first collection, Carver breathed new life into the short story. In the pared-down style that has since become his hallmark, Carver showed us how humour and tragedy dwelt in the hearts of ordinary people, and won a readership that grew with every subsequent brilliant collection of stories, poems and essays that appeared in the last eleven years of his life.
Carver was born into a poverty-stricken family at the tail-end of the Depression. He married at 19, started a series of menial jobs and his own career of 'full-time drinking as a serious pursuit', a career that would eventually kill him. Constantly struggling to support his wife and family, Carver enrolled in a writing programme under author John Gardner in 1958. He saw this opportunity as a turning point.
Rejecting the more experimental fiction of the 60s and 70s, he pioneered a precisionist realism reinventing the American short story during the eighties, heading the line of so-called 'dirty realists' or 'K-mart realists'. Set in trailer parks and shopping malls, they are stories of banal lives that turn on a seemingly insignificant detail. Carver writes with meticulous economy, suddenly bringing a life into focus in a similar way to the paintings of Edward Hopper. As well as being a master of the short story, he was an accomplished poet publishing several highly acclaimed volumes.
After the 'line of demarcation' in Carver's life - 2 June 1977, the day he stopped drinking - his stories become increasingly more redemptive and expansive. Alcohol had eventually shattered his health, his work and his family - his first marriage effectively ending in 1978. He finally married his long-term parter Tess Gallagher (they met ten years earlier at a writers' conference in Dallas) in Reno, Nevada, less than two months before he eventually lost his fight with cancer.
Robert Altman dirige Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison e Lyle Lovett nell’episodio forse top.
Ogni scusa è buona per rileggere un racconto di Carver, sono corti, si leggono in poco tempo. E, non c’è niente da fare: ogni volta che mi immergo in un suo racconto (bastano poche parole, anche meno di un rigo, perché lui mi catapulti altrove), mi viene da chiedermi in quale altro modo si possa scrivere un racconto: c’è solo il suo modo, è perfetto, senza difetti. Poi, certo, magari quando prendo in mano quelli di Dubus, mi chiedo la stessa cosa.
”Short Cuts-America oggi” di Robert Altman, 1993. Robert Downey jr e Lily Taylor nell’episodio tratto dal racconto ‘Vicini’.
Che shock, che sconquasso, che rivoluzione deve essere stata quasi cinquanta anni fa (quarantasei) la pubblicazione di questa sua prima raccolta! Nessuno scriveva così, io credo. E Carver ha la capacità di far credere che scrivere come lui sia facile, sia impresa da poco, sia alla portata di tutti. Infatti, sulla quarta dell’edizione Einaudi si legge: Con l’uscita nel 1976 di ‘Vuoi star zitta per favore?’, la prima raccolta di Raymond Carver, s’imprimeva una svolta irreversibile nell’idea di short story e, presto, nell’intero panorama letterario americano.
Poi, s’è parlato di minimalismo, una delle più insulse e ridicole correnti letterarie, e forse anche del tutto inventate. E, secondo me, se ne è parlato più da noi che oltreoceano – se non altro, da noi sicuramente più a lungo. E, insomma, con questa mania del minimalismo, s’è provato a ingabbiarlo, appiccicargli un’etichetta, che si sa, con l’etichetta tutto sembra meno speciale, meno unico.
Tom Waits e Lily Tomlin nell’episodio tratto dal racconto ‘Loro non sono tuo marito’.
Leggo le sue storie e mi dico, ma che brutta gente, piena di difetti, meschinità, grettezza, aridità, miseria, è gente piccola piccola. Poi, mi rendo conto che assomiglia a tutta quella che conosco, assomiglia anche a me, e perfino alla persona di cui sono innamorato. E quindi, sì, certo, Carver parla di me, di te, di lei. Parla di noi. Ma soprattutto, parla a me.
Gatsby ci aveva insegnato che il sogno americano può nascondere una grande illusione, o forse, è proprio una grande illusione. Ma sono passati altri cinquant’anni, e gli antieroi di Carver ci dicono che la felicità tout court è al meglio un’illusione. Così pure dio. Non c’è traccia di felicità, di sogno, men che meno di dio in questi bar, in queste cucine e camere da letto.
Tim Robbins e Madeleine Stowe nell’episodio tratto dal racconto ‘Jerry Molly e Sam’.
Questa è stata una rilettura, l’ho già detto. Non integrale, ho saltellato tra un racconto e un altro: ho privilegiato quelli che sono confluiti nel film di Altman (Neighbors, Collectors, They Are Not Your Husband, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, Jerry and Molly and Sam – li riporto col titolo originale perché in Italia ci sono state più traduzioni e più edizioni, io conosco quelle di Minimum Fax , Garzanti ed Einaudi, e i titoli cambiano da una all’altra: per esempio Collectors è Creditori per Garzanti e Collettori per Einaudi). Mi affascina l’operazione cinematografica di Altman, che trasferì tutto a Los Angeles, invece che nella California settentrionale, gli stati di Oregon e Washington, dove ambienta Carver - un geniale e complesso adattamento, chapeau. E mi affascina sempre rileggere Carver, s’è capito.
Julianne Moore e Matthew Modine nell’episodio tratto dal racconto ‘Vuoi star zitta per favore?’.
Il libro è dedicato a Maryann, la prima moglie, sposata a diciotto anni.
Mi piace quando nei racconti c’è un senso di minaccia. Credo che un po’ di minaccia sia una cosa che in un racconto ci sta bene. Tanto per cominciare, fa bene alla circolazione. Ci deve essere della tensione, il senso che qualcosa sta per accadere, che certe cose si sono messe in moto e non si possono fermare, altrimenti, il più delle volte, la storia semplicemente non ci sarà. Quello che crea tensione in un racconto è, in parte, il modo in cui le parole vengono concretamente collegate per formare l’azione visibile della storia. Ma creano tensione anche le cose che vengono lasciate fuori, che sono implicite, il paesaggio che è appena sotto la tranquilla (ma a volte rotta e agitata) superficie del racconto.
And here it is...the best collection of short stories I've ever read.
Where has Carver been all my life? Why did no one slap me over the head with his work fifteen years ago? I mourn that it took me this long to discover him and now I must get my little claws on everything Carver asap.
How the heck can a writer capture so much power into super-short stories. I'm talking ten page stories. How?! Each one is a stand alone masterpiece with so much authenticity and sense of reality and yet, they are all small perfect little dreams of sadness. All the characters are mourning themselves, they're all hurting so beautifully.
I re-read several of these stories already and will tuck this gem away to re-read forever.
“They’re Not your Husband” - Just the imagery alone is so tangible and delightful. I loved this twisted and cruel tale. It felt like a movie, a TV show, a full length novel. I wanted to stay in that diner and watch the dysfunction for hours over a slice of pie.
“Nobody Said Anything” - Such melancholy.
“Collectors” - Oh strangeness! Is there anything more lonely than a door to door vacuum salesman? No.
“Jerry and Molly and Sam” - Trapped trapped trapped. This was a mini Yates story.
The writing is haunting and soaked in a sense of foreboding. Heart-breaking. Wonderful.
Pese a que los personajes aparecen en escena e interactúan sin preámbulo alguno, sin que tengamos de ellos ningún conocimiento previo sobre su carácter o su vida, es pasmosa la facilidad con la que Carver consigue que me aloje en la piel de sus desamparados personajes y que me enfrente en primera persona al conflicto vital que presenta en cada relato. Por eso mismo, se agradece la inexistencia de un final explícito que solo serviría para transmutarnos de protagonistas a meros espectadores.
Just as Flannery O'Connor's stories take place at a pivotal turning point in her characters' lives, Raymond Carver's are centred over a make-it-or-break-it moment. You see, it's the breaking that matters to Carver, the breaking that he captures through his unflinching lens. His stories (which are truly short, often 6-8 pages) bring us straight into the broken heart, and we are left at the end to imagine or envision what comes next. What comes next isn't as important as the breaking, the crisis, which can either lead to change or healing, or can be a signpost for more of the same to come.
Published in 1976, this is Carver's first collection. Earlier this month I read What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (my review here) and in those pages I discovered a new favourite writer. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please (goodness, I love this title) was also a pleasure, although I found this debut collection slightly uneven, maybe a little less accessible than his later work.
Despite certain difficulties, Carver rewards a close reader with scattered Easter eggs that shed light onto deeper meaning. For example, in 'What's In Alaska?', the casual get-together is littered with phallic symbols (hookah pipe, bottles of cream soda, popsicles). Foreshadowing of the "U-No" (you know) bars indicate that the main character is going to find out something important. Then the imagery of the cat eating the mouse which is revisited at the end is a grim vision of a cuckold and the man who defeats him.
Including the above, these are my favourite stories of the 22:
* 'Fat' - a waitress is touched and changed after serving an obese man * 'They're Not Your Husband' - an out of work salesman makes his wife lose weight after he hears people making nasty remarks about her figure * 'Jerry and Molly and Sam' - a man abandons the family dog, believing it will help solve his problems * 'Why, Honey?' - a mother who lives in fear of her son, who is now a powerful politician * 'Are These Actual Miles?' - a couple who have lived the high life and now face bankruptcy, are forced to sell their convertible * 'Signals' - a couple on the verge of separation go fine dining in the hopes of reconciliation * 'Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?' - a man asks his wife to tell him what really happened at a party two years ago, and the truth hurts
Each of these stories are told in his signature minimalist style. They are stripped naked - scars and flaws and ugliness there to be seen in cruel daylight. Documenting the tsunamis of every day life, these stories demand to be read with attention - every word on the page is important, otherwise it wouldn't be there.
Oh, Raymond Carver. What a master at capturing glimpses of life, the beauty and tragedy we all experience when it breaks. It doesn't get much better than this.
Ray Carver's poetry is so expansive, and so exceptional, his short stories, as excellent as they are, pale a little in comparison for me.
And yet. . . they are still outstanding.
The twenty-two stories collected here were written throughout the 1960s and 1970s, starting when Mr. Carver was roughly 25-years-old and ending around the time he turned 38.
Many of them are short, with the exception of a few, and here's what most of them share in common: a married, working class couple who work apart, drink together, and have an unusually stiff formality with each other.
Ray Carver's first marriage ended by 1982, but he was married young, and he and his wife were together for more than two decades. From Carver's perspective, it was a partnership degraded by poverty and often fueled by alcohol, but it's still interesting to me to wonder at his perception of marriage being such a formal agreement between two people.
It is, for some couples, and has been, for centuries. It wasn't that long ago that a married duo on a tv program couldn't be represented as kissing or as sleeping together in the same bed. Public displays of affection were rare, and marriage partners often referred to each other as “Mr.” and “Mrs.”
The fictional spouses Carver serves us often stumble over each other. They are strangers in the dark who rarely say the other's first name. I was confused by a phone call between a husband and wife in “Put Yourself in My Shoes.” I couldn't make the connection that the two characters were married. They were that formal on the phone!
So. . . there's this divide. This division between the genders. (It was the 60s and 70s and all of the couples depicted here were hetero). Strangers in a strange land, always.
But, interestingly, where there is division, there is also tension. It doesn't take much for these couples to become confused or agitated or for a situation to explode in their faces.
The story from this particular collection that will stay with me a long time is titled “The Idea.”
In "The Idea," a married couple become an unlikely pair of voyeurs when they discover their next-door neighbor often plays the role of peeping Tom to his own wife. The peeping Tom and his wife create a scintillating connection with this scenario, while the awkward neighbors next door stuff themselves, awkwardly, with snacks and cigarettes, after realizing their own inability to connect. It's brilliant, how much is conveyed about the psychology of marriage in just five pages.
This was a fantastic addition to my 70s project, and I thank my sister, who shares my passion for reading, for sending it to me for Christmas!
Had to drive a bit and I just happened to see this as an audiobook edition of the collection from a master short story writer, one of the best ever, imo; he is sometimes referred to disparagingly as a "K-mart realist." In other words, a working class writer, writing about the down and out. Since I grew up working class, I have always liked the world out of which Carver writes. He's a minimalist in the tone of Edward Hopper. Or think of him as a working-class Hemingway; no adverbs, everything stripped down to match the edge of the abyss that his characters face. Read it to a soundtrack by Tom Waits. The working class folks Carver writes about here are not elegant, or particularly insightful. They drink too much and they make serious mistakes. They are screw-ups, mostly, though I come to care for them.
These stories are not always fun to read for the plots (though they are often very entertaining in a black humor vein), but they are wonderful stories for helping see what a story can do and be. And how fragile humans can be. Dialogue rich. I like What We Talk About When We Talk about Love better, but these are fine stories. Many of them were featured in some fashion in Robert Altman’s fine movie Short Cuts.
“Fat” --A waitress serves a morbidly obese man, and while everyone else in the restaurant makes fun of him, she becomes moved by him, changed.
“Neighbors--A couple house-sitting for their neighbors get voyeuristic about them, taking over the house, gradually, almost absurdly.
“They’re Not your Husband”—A guy visits his wife, a waitress, at her restaurant, and hears some guys laugh at how fat she is. Without referring to the incident, he encourages her to diet, and she agrees, he helps her, and in a matter of weeks goes back to the restaurant and says complimentary things about her to a guy, not identifying himself as her husband.
“Jerry and Molly and Sam”--A man on the edge--of anxiety? doom?--decides to begin changing his life by getting rid of their unruly dog, just letting him out on the edge of town. When he comes home to his frantic family, he realizes his mistake and desperately tries to rectify the situation.
“Are These Actual Miles?”—A man out of work whose wife sells their car doesn’t get home until dawn, dropped off by the guy who bought it.
“Will You Please be Quiet Please?”--Two teachers who claim they are happy, with two kids, suddenly talk about a time at a drunken party two years ago when she kissed—or more?—some friend who was there. Her husband gets suddenly, inexplicably crazy about it, goes out and gets drunk, and sees how his life must suddenly change now. This is my favorite one, in spite of how desperately crazy and unhappy it is. Like watching a slow motion car crash.
The point in most of these stories is that most of these people will now change, and not usually for the best. The stories are, however, unsentimentally compassionate about the screw-ups the people almost always are. Sad, but masterful stories in a minimalist way.
“Not in pictures she had seen nor in any book she had read had she learned a sunrise was so terrible as this.” ― Raymond Carver, "The Student's Wife" in Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
A collection of 22 short stories averaging about 6-8 pages each (a couple might stray into the 11-15 page range) that Carver wrote during what Carver called his "Bad Raymond days" or "First Life" (1960-1974) . Disclosure, like in other short story collections, I may have put one star too many on some of these and accidentally left of a star when I should have actually included it it on several. I read these stories in San Diego drinking Diet Coke while laying under palm shade on fake grass at the Hotel del Coronado. I probably should have been drinking cheap bourbon to really get more into it. But that's it. I can't imagine getting MORE into it. Carver's spare writing guts me. I feel like I'm exposed, raw, and sore. He is brutal. Several stories almost made me cry (and I'm not a casual literary crybaby). While reading this, I kept thinking how different directors (Not Altman) would direct these stories? Some seemed almost Lynchian (the macabre hiding under the banal and normal), while some seemed more like they gave a K-Mart meets Alfonso Cuarón vibe. I liked the idea of him as the poor-man's Hemingway, but he is more human and brutal than just that. He captures humanity at the point where we break (and we all break).
1 "Fat" - ★★★★ 2 "Neighbors" - ★★★★★ 3 "The Idea"- ★★★★ 4 "They're Not Your Husband" - ★★★★★ 5 "Are You a Doctor?" - ★★★ 6 "The Father" - ★★★ 7 "Nodody Said Anything" - ★★★★ 8 "Sixty Acres" - ★★★ 9 "What's In Alaska?" - ★★★★★ 10 "Night School" - ★★★★ 11 "Collectors" - ★★★★ 12 "What Do You Do in San Francisco" - ★★★★ 13 "The Student's Wife" - ★★★★★ 14 "Put Yourself In My Shoes" - ★★★★ 15 "Jerry and Molly and Sam" - ★★★★★ 16 "Why, Honey?" - ★★★★ 17 "The Ducks" - ★★★★★ 18 "How About This?" - ★★★★ 19 "Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes" - ★★★★★ 20 "Are These Actual Miles?" - ★★★★★ 21 "Signals" - ★★★★ 22 "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?" - ★★★★★
It's a little difficult to be quiet when short story writing is this good.
I feel I should be shouting from the rooftops -
"Read Raymond Carver!"
No doubt someone will look up in bewilderment and shout back "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please!"
This is Carver's first published collection of short stories, but the one I read last, after 'Cathedral', 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' (my personal favourite), and 'Elephant and Other Stories'. Carver didn't just breathe new life into the short story, he made a new one all on his own. His approach is minimal, non glossy and pared-down in style, writing of the everyday ordinary Americans that simply live out their mundane lives. There is nothing fancy here, just the everyday problems and hiccups that face most people. His characters are so believable, and the dialogue he uses between them, is just great and so true. It's like standing in someone's living room or bedroom unnoticed and listening in on all sorts of conversations and interactions.
Carver is a writer that, simply put, knows people so perfectly. Through love, lust, sorrow, loss, bitterness, sadness, exuberance, darkened thoughts, suspicions, he brings to vivid life the world behind closed doors and gets to the core of our being. Some say he is phenomenal, others, a genius. I would tend to agree. His prose is taut and lean, sometimes raw and melancholic but always so magnificent in it's simplicity. He engages with the reader on such a deep level, and directly gets to the uncomfortable subtext of the everyday. He is the ultimate kitchen sink writer, who never gets sentimental or melodramatic, but just sticks to the bare truths whether they are comfortable or uncomfortable. We feel his characters like our own. Great stuff! So why the four stars and not five? Simple - his other two collections of Cathedral & What We Talk About When We Talk About Love are even better!
You can use this book as an antidote to Donald Barthelme. And then if you get too minimal you can add a bit of Barthelme back into the mix. Like a cocktail. I can't imagine those two would get on in shortstorywriterheaven. I bet the Minimalists and the Pomos have vicious football matches every Sunday. Brute strength and singleness of purpose vs. fancy footwork and sneering.
Note on Short Cuts by Robert Altman, a movie made out of Carver stories : surprisingly, nay, amazingly, it's great. In true Altmanesque style all the stories and characters weave in and out of each other and with one single exception (the story of the cellist, which isn't by Carver, the only one) it all works a treat. Might even be Altman's finest moment. Certainly one of Tom Waits'.
Here's a summary - might be useful...
“Fat” - A waitress serves a fat man and is moved by the experience.
“Neighbors”* - A couple house-sitting for neighbors are gradually taking over their neighbors’ lives. They begin to enjoy the feeling of voyeurism and begin to hope: One says, “Maybe they won’t come back.”
“The Idea” - A couple spies on a man who spies on his own wife from his garden.
“They’re Not your Husband”* - An out of work salesman makes his waitress wife diet when he realises that other men think she’s fat.
“Are you a Doctor?” - A woman calls a doctor by accident, it’s a wrong number. She begs him to meet her and he does.
“The Father” - A mother and grandfather and daughter discuss the new baby’s features. “But who does Daddy look like?”
“Nobody Said Anything” - A boy tries to impress his parents, who are always fighting, by catching a big fish.
“Sixty Acres” - A Native American accosts two young kids shooting ducks on his land. He lets them go. He decides to lease some of his land.
“What’s in Alaska?” - Two couples get stoned on marijuana and LSD one evening.
“Night School” - A man is out of work and living with his parents. He meets two women in a bar and tells them. “I’d say you’re kind of old for that.”
“Collectors”* - A vacuum salesman demonstrator shows up at the house of an unemployed man. He pointlessly goes through his sales patter.
“What do you do in San Francisco?” - A postman observes the young couple who move in next door. They seem to break up quite quickly.
“The Student’s Wife” - A night of insomnia.
“Put yourself in my Shoes” - Coming back from an office party, a couple are interrogated and insulted in a strange meeting with their landlord and his wife.
“Jerry and Molly and Sam”* - A man is driven crazy by the family dog and decides to get rid of it by dumping it on the edge of town. He soon changes his mind.
“Why Honey?” - Letter from the mother of an apparently pathological liar who has become President of the United States. “I should be proud but I am afraid.”
“The Ducks” - At work the foreman suddenly dies, so everyone is sent home. At home one man fails to use the opportunity to have sex with his wife.
“How About This?” - A couple come to look at her father’s deserted place in the country. Maybe they will move there.
“Bicycles, muscles, Cigarettes”* - A man quits smoking. He calls round to the house of a friend of his son where a dispute is in progress over a missing bike. He and the accused boy’s father have a fight.
“Are These Actual Miles?” - An unemployed man’s wife goes out to sell their car and doesn’t return until dawn.
“Signals” - A couple in a flashy restaurant seems to be trying to find out if they still have a future together. “I don’t mind admitting I’m just a lowbrow.”
“Will you please be quiet please?”* - The story of Ralph and Marian, two students who marry and become teachers. Ralph becomes obsessed with the idea that Marian was unfaithful to him once in the past. Ralph gets drunk and feels his whole life changing once he finds out the truth
This has been one of the most rewarding, most enjoyable years I've had in more than two decades of being an insatiable reader. I've discovered new authors to idolize, fallen even harder for longstanding heroes, experienced the rabid glee of revisiting much-loved works and immersed myself in genres that I suddenly cannot live without. Unfortunately, the awe of January's introduction to the raw beauty of Raymond Carver (who has forever changed my interest in and opinion of short stories for the better with his mastery of the medium) fell by the wayside as I became increasingly besotted with the way post-modernism blew apart everything I thought I knew about my bookish taste.
What a delight it was to return to the terse, hyper-reality of Carver's deceptively short and tightly structured snapshots of life. My wariness of short stories stems from reading too many undeveloped or overwrought examples of it; Carver, however, is the king of cramming years of quiet suffering into an eight-page story, of building agonizing suspense in a matter of lines, of making the reader feel every aching pang of every one of his characters. That doesn't sound terribly delightful, does it? But it is. It so is. Because not one of these fictional feelings that evoke real-life responses comes even close to the conflicted bliss of losing oneself in page after minutely crafted page of brilliant, profoundly disquieting storytelling. Neither wishing a story would end so these characters could be put out of their misery while also not wanting to get closer to finishing one of Carver's precious few works nor the growing knot in my stomach while reading some of these stories kept me from rolling around in his words with nerdy abandon.
I wasn't as universally drawn to the characters in these stories as I was with "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love": There seemed to be more Domestic Strife With Children (which I can't relate to) in this collection and the instances of people being less than awesome to animals (which I can't deal with) automatically turned me off a little bit. But that's really where my petty complaints stop.
Most of these stories felt like those moments of stark clarity right before the shit hits the fan, when a carpet stain or isolated section of tablecloth pattern is your entire field of vision because it's the only thing keeping your world together with its desperate normalcy. It captures those moments that become significant not for what they are but rather for what they're a prelude to. And I love that so many of these taciturn tales start like an establishing shot before slowly zeroing in on the heart of the matter with an intimidating combination of misdirection, back story and realism to underscore the rising action that's typically outside the scope of these stories. Carver shows (not tells!) that there's so much more than the traditional climax of a story, that sometimes the rising action is more indicative of the resolution than anything else. There are so many directions for the narrative to go as Carver keeps fine-tuning its path, usually arriving at an ending drenched with hopelessness and only one logical, deftly implied conclusion. It's a morbid celebration of how all these tiny moments comprise the bigger picture and determine the trajectory of a life.
The juxtaposition of the stories' unusual focal points (chopping wood, aimless wandering, awkward small talk) against very relatable troubles (children's skirmishes that call for adults' intervention, unhappy marriages, occupational dissatisfaction, feeling like the American Dream is always juuuuust out of reach) is the best kind of understatement. Even with my favorite literary device being expertly executed over and over again, what I found especially interesting was that all these little details concerning everything BUT the very unhappy elephant in the room offered such a vivid contrast between the way people lived in the '60s and '70s compared to the way we live now: So much has changed in the world and absolutely nothing has changed about the human condition. I'd be willing to bet that Carver's legacy will include the way his writing both serves as a time capsule of human sadness and offers irrefutable evidence that quiet misery is modern society's major linking factor because we've all been keenly acquainted with any five emotions tearing through these pages at some point in our pasts.
Raymond Carver'a ilk Fil ile başlamıştım. O kadar da sevmemiştim Fil'i. Bizim öykücülerimiz daha iyi, Behçet Çelik'i daha çok tercih ederim dediğimi hatırlıyorum. Ama biliyordum ki Amerikan öykücülüğünün temelleri sağlam: Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawtforne. Benim gibi bir ölümlünün bu isimlere laf söylemesi pek taraftar bulmayacaktır. Bu sebepten de bu kitapla Carver'a yeni bir şans vermek istedim, hazır kitap elimdeyken.
Bu kitap da, Fil gibi evli çiftlerle dolu, ama başka şeyler de var. Tatmin ediciydi bu bakımdan benim için. Ben kısa öyküyü severim. Kısa öykülerdeki boşluklar ve geçişler de benim için lezzet yerleridir. Biraz da içeriğin benim yaşamıma ve duygularıma değmesi gerekir. O zaman öyküyü daha çok seviyorum, samimi ve sıcak buluyorum. Fil'de bu duyguları pek yakalayamamıştım. Bu kitapta farklıydı sanki. Mesela bu kitapta misafirliğe gidenler çok oluyordu ve misafirlikte samimi bir atmosfer yaşanıyordu. "Hey dostum kendine bir içki koysana" demekten çok "bir çay koyayım deniyordu." Alaska'da Ne Var? adlı öyküde nargile içenleri gördükten sonra bir sonraki öyküde altın günü düzenlenirse şaşarmayacağımı itiraf ettim.
Bir de teknolojinin ve üretim ilişkilerinin yalnızlaştırdığı, atomize ettiği ve sakatladığı bir kuşak olarak trajikomik halimiz de bazı öykülerde sergileniyor. Clara yanlışlıkla aradığı hiç tanımadığı Arnold ile sohbeti uzattıkça uzattı. Bir başka öyküde de işini, eşini ve arabasını kaybetmiş kahramanımız bir barda, bar bar dolaşan iki muhabbet kuşu kadınla sohbete dalar. Kadınların yüzündeki müstehzi ifadeye rağmen kahramanımız bu anlardan hoşnuttur...
Bunun yanında gerçek hayatta sık rastlanan fakat öyküleştirilmesi kimsenin aklına gelmeyen bazı durumlarda öykülerde mevcuttu. Örneğin kıç büyümesi sorunu. Bir çok insanın başına gelen ve tedirginlik yaratan bir durum.
These stories are uniformly bleak, piercing vignettes into the disappointments and insecurities of working class people. The relentlessness of the raw pain on display here was very stark and at times very, very difficult to continue reading. That being said, these are some of the most beautifully written stories you are likely to come across, even if you need to take some time to recuperate in between finishing one and starting another.
Carver's stories made me feel from uncomfortable to deeply sad. They all feel like a sunset in a small town with the smell of damp soil in the air and the yellow grass shining like gold against the sun. Don't ask me to explain it, but even the ones that take place on cold, winter nights felt like that to me. I never thought that such short stories could be so whole, so full of meaning and human emotions. The titular story is a masterpiece in itself.
In questa raccolta, Carver ci conduce nel mondo dei vinti, degli sconfitti, di coloro che la vita ha posto in ginocchio, di chi stenta a ritrovare un'esile speranza nel tormentato fluire della propria esistenza. Stile sempre straordinario. Un po' più sottotono le storie. Diverse restano splendide, altre un po' più fredde, se non di difficile interpretazione in quanto, almeno in apparenza, mere descrizioni di eventi o spezzoni di vita che non paiono lasciar trasparire una morale, un insegnamento, una feconda riflessione. Piaciuto? Ni....
3 and a half stars, rounded up because it demands a re-read in the future.
In my experience, American realism is about minimalism, simplicity and directness. And while Carver’s prose is clean, minimalist, simple and direct, his stories truly are anything but. My husband strongly recommended his work to me, and I picked up his first published collection (instead of the more famous “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”) because the title made me smile. That smile did not last long; it was quickly replaced by a slightly puzzled frown. What the Hell did I get myself into with these short stories?
Each of these short stories seem to contain more than one tale: there’s the story on the surface, the one that meets the eye, and then there’s something else going on in the murky waters below. I’d get to the end of one short story and get the urge to start again from the beginning, because I felt like I had missed a crucial detail. I was also stunned that none of them really give the reader any kind of resolution, so they linger in the mind like a weird taste at the back of your tongue, while you try to figure out what might have happened to these characters after the final word of their story.
Those stories capture something of the American working-poor life, the ever-looming squalor, the lack of refinement in the characters’ lives. The glimpses into the lives of those people Carver gives us are deliberately unhappy: he wants to make the reader uncomfortable, ill at ease, if only so they get a taste of what these people’s entire existence was like. There is disappointment, sadness, jealousy, loneliness, despair, bitterness and secrets on almost every page. People who wish they had their neighbours’ lives, a husband who reacts in all the wrong ways when someone makes a nasty comment about his wife, a kid desperately trying to escape his parents’ fighting, a man finally facing his wife's infidelity.
So why read this if it’s so goddamned sad? It’s a valid question. Because the Spartan prose is beautiful, because the sad settings and sad characters are somehow distilled into something almost universal, like a snapshot of an authentic American experience. Carver’s voice is unsettling, but strong and moving. There is also a surprisingly and dark humour that runs through those stories, the kind that will make you cringe more than laugh.
It also occurred to me that stories like that could not be set anywhere else than in the Rust Belt or North West: it doesn’t matter that they were written over forty years ago, the locality is palpable in the writing. There is a sort of resiliency, a hardness that only comes from seeing the world around oneself turn into a trap; the way a certain part of the Mid and North West of the United-States that turned from land of industrial prosperity into a wasteland of broken promises.
I surprised myself with this second reading by not wanting to give the collection 5 stars. Carver's first collection is relatively short - as was everything he published - the man was not very prolific. I'll review his major publications as I get through them in the LOA collection, then read the Poetry and uncollected stories and essays. All told, about 1600 pages of material by Carver exists. This first 181 pages of it is middling Carver - him feeling out the style which would come to redefine much of American short story writing.
In some ways it is reminiscent of Chekhov, but there is a more subdued quality. Less variety. Very little figurative language, sometimes what is being stated is completely literal, and other times he will end a story on a disquieting and eerily imaginative note. A lot of the time he simply states what his characters are doing. Every story features cigarettes and heavy drinking, most of them contain some form of violence of verbal abuse, and you might suspect the author was simply writing about himself. Though Carver's life resembled some of his characters' in places, there is certainly a detectable distance. Occasional satire. Much dry, artful humor. Straight-faced, utterly bland recountings of a day or two of life. Yet the voice is supremely clear, and extremely compelling. Writers who have appropriated this style in part or expanded upon it include: Murakami, Denis Johnson, Joy Williams, and many others. It is not hard to understand Carver's influence once you get into reading his stories. So distinctive, tight and absorbing, yet so plain, so straightforward, always effortless.
Contained in this collection are tales of marital strife, stories about men sitting around in bars, men acting like macho men but really crying inside, fishing, thinking about chicks, sitting around the kitchen table drinking, smoking often, acting like that 'one guy' at social gatherings who has to ruin the fun for everybody. In short, they are very bleak, utterly depressing, and memorable, but tend to blend together. A lot of subtext in the dialogue, as if he were imitating Hemingway. Not everyone will dig this first book, but what comes later, that's where it gets interesting.
Buổi tối, đọc nốt mấy truyện ngắn còn lại trong tập này tự nhiên thấy buồn buồn. Chính xác, cô đọng, nắm bắt tâm lý nhân vật môt cách cực kỳ bản năng và rất mực tàn nhẫn. Tình yêu, hôn nhân, cuộc đời, và những sự bất toàn. Hình như không có truyện ngắn nào trong cả tập truyện này là một câu chuyện hạnh phúc hay khiến người ta vui vẻ và tin tưởng vào hạnh phúc cả.
Ơr Việt Nam, Nguyễn Huy Thiệp cũng là một cây bút viết truyện ngắn không khoan nhượng và nhiều khi tàn nhẫn, nhưng ở ông vẫn có sự trắc ẩn và sưj cảm thông hay đồng cảm với nhân vật. Carver trái lại, viết truyện như một khán giả hay một kẻ nhòm trộm cay nghiệt, khoái trá, để ý từng chi tiết nhỏ nhất và khoan nó ra một cách thích thú cho nó thêm lở loét, giống như nữ thần bất hoà ném quả táo gây sự bất hoà vào trong bàn tiệc.
Hay có lẽ với ông, cuộc sống là chấp nhận sự bất toàn và không hoà hợp, và mỗi con người, mỗi số phận như thứ gì đó duy nhất mà chúng ta chỉ có thể chấp nhận, an ủi "lâu rồi đời mình cũng qua" chứ đừng mong hiểu được nó.
I'm not sure whether I've given five stars to a collection of short stories before, but these were outstanding. Carver's penetrating depictions of the ordinary and extraordinary struggles of married life are refreshingly honest, gritty and disturbing. He finds simple moments that are filled with subtle implications, and he has this way of just walking away and leaving unsaid the most salient element of the story, forcing the reader to adopt the anguish of the characters, and denying any cathartic release. These are powerful stories that stay with you.
Oohhh I like Carver. Nothing happens in this short stories, they're great. This collection is very good, there are some bumps along the road but that's to be expected in a collection of 22 stories. I'll definitely be reading more Carver.
None of Carver's collections are any less than *****worthy but the stories, apparently so powerfully simple and elemental, are strangely different with each revisit. Maybe the simpler the tale the more space for the changing reader.
Where it all began for Raymond Carver, and you can definitely see signs of things to come. Except for the last, most of these stories are under 8 pp. long. Husbands and wives struggle, with money, with alcohol, with each other. Everyone smokes "cigarets" because they partially kicked the habit (the extra "t" and "e," apparently). Very blue collar Pacific NW (Carver's home turf) with good old-fashioned names like Clyde and Sam and Marian and Carl and Vera (I half-expected a Far Side cartoon panel to break out).
Minor annoyance: A lot of the plots struck me as unrealistic, as in "no one would say that" or "no one would do that," etc. Still, in the name of tension, a story writer does what he has to do.
On the plus side: Carver shows early strength in subtext. He's already an ace at getting the action off the ground in the opening paragraph (to me, one of the toughest moves in short story writing). When it applies, he shows a deft hand describing nature and the weather, too.
Finally, as is always true in good story collections, Carver plays the old "mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" card. Some of these men, not so quiet desperation. Some real Sherwood Anderson-style "grotesques."
Speaking of Sherwood who choked to death on a toothpicked olive in his drink, Carver clearly was playing some greatest hits from the Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway School of Story Writing, what with the use of repetition, often one sentence right after the other (talk about hitting your reader over the head!) and with people turning over in bed, looking at walls. End of the line, that, either metaphorically or, worse, for real.
Mi sembra sempre di entrare nelle vite degli altri senza aver chiesto il permesso ogni volta che leggo Carver. E' una sensazione strana, non si sa come ci si dovrebbe comportare, se chiedere scusa e sperare di essere invitati a rimanere oppure desiderare di essere scoperti ed intimati di andare via immediatamente. I suoi racconti sono fatti di momenti e spesso sono quelli che durano un battito di ciglia che tendono a rivoluzionare le cose. C'è sempre qualcosa di non detto, il mistero che trapela dalle pagine, ma non si tratta di racconti gialli, anzi. Vite banali, tutto fuorché eccezionali come i protagonisti che le vivono, d'altronde. L'inaspettato è ciò che ci si deve aspettare dalle pagine di Carver: riesce a spiazzare con i vuoti, è un maestro dello spazio. Solitudini, uomini e donne piegati dalle avversità, piccoli momenti di conforto. Ho un debole per i racconti: ma questi sono geniali, grotteschi, sorprendenti. Potrei leggerne a volontà.
Η δεύτερη επαφή μου με τα διηγήματα του Κάρβερ. Το ύφος και το περιεχόμενο είναι το ίδιο αγαπημένο. Λιτός κι άμεσος λόγος και άνθρωποι με πάθη. Στο συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο διέκρινα περισσότερο τα αυτοβιογραφικά στοιχεία: τα αδιέξοδα, τα οικονομία προβλήματα, τον αλκοολισμό. Ξεχώρισα το αυτοβιογραφικό διήγημα με την ανάμνηση από την παιδική του ηλικία «Δεν είπε κανείς τίποτα», το «Ο Τζέρι, η Μόλι και ο Σαμ» και φυσικά το τελευταίο κι ομώνυμο. Δυστυχώς ορισμένα διηγήματα δεν έχουν τίποτα να δώσουν, κυρίως 2-3 στην αρχή του βιβλίου, κάποια άλλα όμως σε αποζημιώνουν.
A recent discussion of “The Canon” here on Goodreads prompts me to write this review of a writer who, like it or not Pynchon and McElroy fans, will probably enter the canon. “Will you please be quiet, please?” The line is Hemingway’s and, though it’s quoted by Carver in the text, is repurposed as title-story by editor/mentor Gordon Lish with, I can’t help feeling, a sly nod to all those “postmodernists” intent on outdoing Joyce or Melville. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but hell, isn’t it reassuring (more, inspiring – even frightening) that the son of a sawmill worker from Clatskanie Oregon, father at 18, alcoholic and blue-collar worker for most of his twenties, was able – with a few 5-10 page lucid blasts between drinks and changing nappies and stand-up fights with his wife – to grasp the imaginations of serious readers and writers across the world, despite that “short stories don’t sell”, despite the cult of Barthelme, despite a technical range that no-one could deny is limited. That maybe he was groomed for this role by Lish; that he wasn’t quite the working class hero he was meant to be; that he was both more ordinary and more sophisticated than journalists and copywriters might have liked him to be – none of that fazes me, because in his writing, despite Lish and his red pen and his sly nod and his gameplan, the imagination speaks so truly.
A book is great, says Nathan “N.R.” Gaddis, if when we close the cover we think, “I’m still learning to read.” Hard as it may be for the maximalists to believe, Carver does this, with minimal surface flash, pyrotechnics or lexical contortion. To the casual eye (as to my own eye on first reading) there’s, maybe, little to take away as “proof” of authorial brilliance. (Book 2 of Carver’s story-cycle, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, being near as much Lish’s book as Carver’s, is more “chi-chi” (Carver’s descriptor), though still – if you can see past the cuteness – contains the magic.) And maybe that’s why I love Carver, because he’s pure. He’s not trying to convince you of anything. He’s no verbal athlete. He’s good with words, but uses few of them, and though he’s a stylist with his own tricks and techniques, for the most part it’s machinery of another order than linguistic that powers his unveiling aesthetic revelations.
It’s true, when I first came to love Carver I was in far from the best state for reading. Distracted by day-jobs and rock music and intoxicants, for a few years I read little of anything, but more than anyone Carver brought me back around. Should I hate him for that, cos he appealed to my “dumb” self? He led me back! And I read with a new understanding of what goes on beyond words, which helped me to grasp Tabucchi, Pessoa, Soseki, Juan Rulfo, and to believe in my own writing again.
Here’s the thing: You can point to style and learning and flash and justify your love for a writer. You can make literature a type of athletics. But sooner or later some Carver on crutches makes a mockery of your track-meet. Boo him off the field, but he knows: art isn’t who gets from A to B quickest, or jumps some pit or vaults some bar. Art – often as not – is what happens between all that. It’s the limp, the hiccup, the wobble. It’s some woman with a wrong number late at night asking, “Are you a doctor?” Cut it down for what it’s not – it won’t lose its power. Limited in scope as a craftsman though he may be, Raymond Carver is a “great American writer”, and special into the bargain, because in all the din of grand gestures and histrionics he had the balls/humility to make his quiet pleas.
“Tra i fumi dell’alcol, si chiese se c’erano altri uomini in grado di esaminare un avvenimento isolato della loro vita e cogliere in esso i minuscoli segnali della catastrofe che da quel momento in poi aveva cambiato il corso della loro vita.”
Credo che la banale quotidianità colta da Carver vista più da vicino si spogli della sua semplicità. Quelle che si mettono in scena sono, per lo più, esistenze insoddisfatte e l’insoddisfazione è qualcosa che ha messo radici nel tempo, rimanendo latente nell’ombra di queste vite normali. Un processo di sedimentazione che affiora a cose già fatte. Serpeggia, allora, un senso di fallimento che a volte cerca il riscatto ma, più spesso, s’inabissa privo di ogni forza.
” In cucina, si sedette al tavolo e appoggiò la testa sulle braccia. Non sapeva che cosa fare. Non solo ora, pensò, non solo in questa situazione, no, non solo a questo proposito, non solo oggi o domani, ma tutti i giorni che gli rimanevano su questa terra. Poi sentí i bambini muoversi. Si tirò su e cercò di sorridere quando entrarono in cucina.”
Un’America ripresa nei suoi interni domestici o dietro ai banconi di un bar. In entrambi i casi domina il fumo delle tante sigarette mentre il ghiaccio nei bicchieri sempre pieni di alcool tintinna come fosse l’unico suono vivo di queste vite che si consumano nella propria solitudine. Spesso i protagonisti sono coppie in crisi proprio per l’incapacità di (ri)trovare alfabeti comuni. Il rimpianto dei primi tempi, quando bastava uno sguardo per sentirsi in piena sintonia, è soppiantato da un lacerante senso d’incomprensione reciproca che fa gridare al marito tradito: «Vuoi star zitta, per favore?».. Mettere a tacere la voce che ricorda gli sbagli di una vita e cercare nel silenzio di trovare uno passaggio per uscirne fuori
"Sí, pensò, c’era proprio una gran malvagità che premeva sul mondo e aveva bisogno solo di uno spiraglio, bastava la benché minima fessura”
1. Grasso ★★★★★ 2. Vicini ★★★★ 3. Che idea ★★★ 4. Loro non sono tuo marito ★★★★ 5. Lei è un dottore? ★★★★ 6. Il padre ★★★ 7. Nessuno diceva niente★★★★★ 8. Ventiquattro ettari ★★★★★ 9. Che ci sarà mai in Alaska? ★★★★ 10. Scuola serale ★★★ 11. Collettori ★★★★ 12. Che si fa a San Francisco? ★★★★ 13. La moglie dello studente ★★★★★ 14. Provi a mettersi nei miei panni ★★★★★ 15. Jerry, Molly e Sam ★★★★★ 16. Egregio signore ★★★★ 17. Le anatre ★★★ 18. E guarda questa! ★★★★ 19. Biciclette, muscoli, sigarette ★★★★ 20. I chilometri sono effettivi? ★★★ 21. Segni ★★★ 22. Vuoi star zitta per favore? ★★★★
i do not understand why i am never sick of raymond carver. somehow, i just plow through every story, even though most of the time it's clear it's going to end up like most carver stories do - with some bloody thread hanging there untied, hinting at something really awful.
but out of all of his short story collections (minus, you know, the big one of all the stories), this one is my favorite, i think. maybe it's because it opens with a fat man from the circus in a diner. that's very possibly the reason.
carver shines for me in the shorter stories. favorites: "what's in alaska?", "they're not your husband" and "signals" all killed me.
carver's brand of gorgeous suburban creepy sadness should get old quickly - couples don't really love each other anymore, everyone's drinking beer and trying to find something or run from something or hide something or discover something. carver has a formula for these stories, but they change often enough to keep me interested and it never seems trite. these stories might have similar skeletons, but they all have different shades of skin, different shapes of bodies, different colored hair and eyes.
anyway - the big one for me here is "nobody said anything."
i don't know that i've ever read a short story with a more perfect last sentence.
after i read it, i sat there for about 20 minutes staring at the last sentence in hurt and wonder. it was like someone had drilled me open and installed something essential that had been missing into my chest, maybe another heart.
“I lifted him out. I held him. I held the half of him.”
the rest of this review is pointless. i can't do better than that sentence yet.
“White no podía evitar entonces un estremecimiento; no sabía lo que significaban, esos mismos gastos y señales, esos silencios suyos”
“Miraba fijamente al suelo. Le pareció que se inclinaba en dirección a él, que se movía. Cerró los ojos y se llevó las manos a los oídos para serenarse. Y luego se le ocurrió ahuecar las manos; así le llegaría ese bramido como el viento que ruge dentro de una concha marina.”
“Todo el optimismo que había animado su vuelo desde la ciudad se había agotado, se había desvanecido en la tarde del primer día, mientras viajaban en coche rumbo al norte a través de los bosques de secoyas. Ahora los ondulantes pastos, las vacas, las aisladas granjas del este de Washington se le antojaban sin el menor atractivo, carentes de lo que él deseaba de verdad. Se esperaba algo diferente. Siguió conduciendo con una creciente sensación de desesperanza y de rabia. “
Tenía muchas ganas de volver al mundo de Raymond Carver. Lo extraño de las apariencias normales, el minimalismo de las situaciones en un ambiente marginal, frío y sucio. El aparente descontrol de los personajes de Carver son, en parte, lo que los hace humanamente posibles, reales. La normalidad de los silencios incómodos que tienen vida propia, forman un todo en los relatos de Carver sin necesidad de demasiadas palabras, solo las justas. Un maestro indiscutible de lo invisible. La vida cotidiana de la clase trabajadora llevada a extremos de crueldad insospechados, pero siempre marcando bien el ritmo, las conversaciones, el mundo invisible del sufrimiento humano. Títulos, en su mayoría preguntas con respuestas contundentes.
Estos son los cuentos que más me han gustado de esta antología: Gordo. No son tu marido. ¿Qué hay en Alaska? ¿Por qué, cariño? ¿Qué es lo que quiere? Escuela nocturna. Jerry, Molly y Sam. ¿Qué hace usted en San Francisco? ¿Qué te parece esto? ¿Quieres hacer el favor de callarte, por favor?
Description: With this, his first collection, Carver breathed new life into the short story. In the pared-down style that has since become his hallmark, Carver showed how humour and tragedy dwell in the hearts of ordinary people, and won a readership that grew with every subsequent brilliant collection of stories, poems and essays that appeared in the last eleven years of his life.
Had this onhold for so long that this visit is a complete reboot. Carver wrote as Hopper painted, maybe the connection is the diner, combined with spartanism, oh and voyeurism of course.
1: Fat 2: Neighbours 3: Note 4: The Idea 5: They’re Not your Husband 6: Are you a Doctor? 7: The Father 8: Nobody Said Anything 9: Sixty Acres 10: What’s in Alaska? 11: Night School 12: Collectors 13: What do you do in San Francisco? 14: The Student’s Wife 15: Put yourself in my Shoes 16: Jerry and Molly and Sam 17: Why Honey? 18: The Ducks 19: How About This? 20: Bicycles, muscles, Cigarettes 21: Are These Actual Miles? 22: Signals 23: Will you please be quiet please?
3* What We Talk About When We Talk About Love 3* Cathedral TR Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories 3* Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?
“He lies on his back for a time and pulls the hair on his stomach, considering.”
What man has not done this? Whether part of God’s grand design or good old fashioned evolution Raymond Carver has revealed to the world the purpose of male stomach hair: an aid to male cognition. I wonder what women do?
As well as being full of acute observations about male stomach hair and other aspects of human behavior these stories are full of the psychology of things unsaid or understandings not shared. As well as mastering natural dialogue Carver has mastered the spaces between that dialogue, a space full of misdirection or of motivations not explained or only half understood, of powerful emotions left un-expressed. Many stories communicate a failure to communicate; characters often seem to end a story lonely but unable to quite pinpoint where this loneliness comes from – surely a common human experience and a reason why the stories are often easy to relate to.
“Short Cuts” was a great film and I am sure anyone who liked these stories would enjoy the movie as well. I am embarrassed to say I only realized it was based on Raymond Carver stories after finishing this.
So far, I love Raymond Carver. If you like disfunctional (and sometimes functional) love / family stories, this is for you. He reminds me of Ray Bradbury in a strange way, though Bradbury was a much kindler, gentler version of Carver. Carver is more about what life is actually likely to serve you up, versus what is ideal.