Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories Kindle

Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories By the time of his early death in , 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 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Cathedral , What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and earlier Carver volumes, along with seven new works previosly unpublished in book form Together, thesestories give us a superb overview of Carver s life work and show us why he was so widely imitated but never equaled The typical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 liquor, chain smokes, trailer camps, hollering from foul mouths and breakdowns from beat 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 liquor, 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 Carver THEY 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 desirable FATA fat man sits alone at a restaurant table for his evening meal He is so fat he would qualify 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 thetrips 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 man.NEIGHBORSBookkeeper Bill and secretary Arlene feel isolated and see themselves as stick in the muds compared to frequent 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 request 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 evenextreme 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 sadness.VITAMINSThe narrator waxes floors during the night at the local hospital and lives with out of work Patti who, in her quest 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 quest 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 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 days.Through 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 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 days.Through 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 soul.Through 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 disquiet 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 Quiet, 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 quiet 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 quick, 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 inside.The 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 side.His side, her side.He 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 technique 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 experienceShe kept talking, She told everyone There wasto it, and she was trying to get it talked out After a time, she quit trying The girl tells everyone she knows about the events hoping to find something inside, something she knows is in there but can t quite 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 quite 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 thisDriving, 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 baker.Subtlety 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 windowBut 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 doThese 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 perish.The 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 muchwordy 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 towardsof 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 come.These 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 seemlike 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 place.5 5 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 whatIn 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 quite 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 SHOW, DON T TELLRobert Altman e Tess Gallagher, la vedova di Raymond Carver, durante le riprese del film.Prima di morire, nel 1988, Carver selezion proprio questi trentasette racconti per la sua ultima antologia in vita, presumibilmente quelli che lui considerava i suoi migliori.Per me, il meglio del meglio Non esiste nessuno come Carver E se anche esistesse, Carver sarebbe meglio.Foto locandina di Short Cuts , 1993 Il film a colori, ma io ho preferito selezionare immagini in b w.Storie d SHOW, DON T TELLRobert Altman e Tess Gallagher, la vedova di Raymond Carver, durante le riprese del film.Prima di morire, nel 1988, Carver selezion proprio questi trentasette racconti per la sua ultima antologia in vita, presumibilmente quelli che lui considerava i suoi migliori.Per me, il meglio del meglio Non esiste nessuno come Carver E se anche esistesse, Carver sarebbe meglio.Foto locandina di Short Cuts , 1993 Il film a colori, ma io ho preferito selezionare immagini in bw.Storie di gente comune, uomini e donne normali, dannatamente ordinari, in totale assenza di colpi di scena.Brevi narrazioni tese come una corda di violino, sospese sul baratro abissale dell esistere, grondanti algida commozione.Frammenti, tranche de vie, istantanee, fatti insignificanti Con personaggi complessi, sfaccettati, pi reali della realt.Solitudine, dolore, disperazione, impotenza, incomunicabilit , fine dell a, violenza, vite senza scampo, insieme a tenerezza, condivisione quella vera, ante internet , generosit di sentimenti, pietas.Robert Altman prepara una scena con Julianne Moore e Madeleine Stowe.Impieghi umili, povert , difficolt a tirare avanti, eccessi alcolici, coppie problematiche.Molta autobiografia Narrazione e scrittura ridotta all osso ma accidenti, no, non minimale , quotidianit che diventa eccezionale, banalit che si trasforma in straordinario, toni e colori neutri ma nitidi e indelebili.Raymond non spinge sul pedale, non accelera, non calca la mano immortala scene di vita ordinaria in istanti di luce senza scampo.Come nei quadri di Edward Hopper.Tom Waits e Lily Tomlin protagonisti dell episodio Loro non sono mica tuo marito.Alla fine del racconto intitolato Cattedrale l io narrante non riesce a descrivere una cattedrale al suo amico cieco Allora il cieco gli chiede di disegnarla, e con la sua mano segue il movimento di quella del vedente che disegna, non si capisce qual la mano che guida effettivamente, quella che disegna e improvvisamente sulla carta la cattedrale prende vita con archi, campanili e tutto il resto A quel punto il cieco chiede al narratore di aggiungerci delle persone, e di continuare a disegnare ma a occhi chiusi Robert lo fa chiude gli occhi e disegna come non ha mai fatto in vita sua E impara dal cieco a vedere veramente, con gli occhi dell immaginazione.Robert Altman in sala trucco con Robert Downey Jr.Alcuni di questi racconti sono tra i nove pi una poesia, Lemonade scelti da Robert Altman per il suo splendido film Short Cuts America oggi del 1993 Vicini, Loro non sono mica tuo marito, Creditori, Con tanta di quell acqua a due passi da casa, Vitamine, Una cosa piccola ma buona.Un altro, Perch non ballate stato adattato da Dan Rush nel suo primo e per ora unico film del 2010 intitolato Everything Must Go.Robert Altman spiega un inquadratura ad Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison e Lyle Lovett, famoso cantautore country

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