Currently reading: Carver
August 24, 2012 § 10 Comments
I have my first Raymond Carver book in my bag, and it goes wherever I go. I had picked What We Talk About When We Talk About Love from the shelves at the bookstore (quite some time ago now), because (1) I had heard good things about Carver and his short stories, (2) I’m starting to really appreciate short stories these days, and (3) Murakami’s sort-of autobiography is titled What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.
The first story I jumped straight into was the title story. I didn’t quite get it, the meaning and all that, but I really loved the tone of it, for some reason. I just couldn’t pinpoint the exact something that I found so enticing.
So I left the book in my bag for a few days, just to let it smolder for a little while.
Then yesterday, I picked it up, and read the first few stories in the collection, starting from the first page.
I don’t think I’ve read short stories as stripped down as Carver’s. His stories feel like there are absolutely no frills – everything that’s in it is essential to bring the mood and tone of the story out.
And I don’t think I’ve read anything so sad and lonely. There’s just this feeling of emptiness that resonates from his writing.
It’s like looking at a square table, with one chair, at the corner of a cafe. You can’t see the cafe, but you can hear the sounds, and smell the smells. There’s a little notebook sitting on the table, its pages open. A pen lies with its cover off, just right next to the notebook. And the chair is angled in such a way that it looks like someone had just stood up and left.
And you look at the table, and feel all the loneliness and emptiness of this stranger’s life, no matter that you did not even get a glimpse of the person. You can just feel the sadness emanating from that abandoned seat.
There’s nothing you can leave out of the picture that wouldn’t change the story. The notebook and uncovered pen, though seemingly useless, are indispensable.
That is what Carver reads like. For me.