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Review Where I’m Calling From

It in the imaginations of thousands of readers 'Where I'm Calling From' his last collection encompasses classic stories from 'Cathedral' 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' and earlier Carver 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 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

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Where I’m Calling From

By the time of his early death in 1988 Raymond Carver had established himself as one of the greatest practitioners of the American short story a writer who had not only found his own voice but imprinted 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 Hemingway 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 detractors has 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 topic 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 In 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 Beginners I 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 life 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

Raymond Carver ô 8 Read & download

Volumes along with seven new works previosly unpublished in book form Together these 37 stories give us a superb overview of Carver's life work and show us why he was so widely imitated but never eualed 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


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 m

  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 sh

  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 wr

  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 Th

  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

  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

  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

  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

  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

  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 threa

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