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.

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§ 10 Responses to Currently reading: Carver

  • short stories are like little nuggets of gold for me. sometimes a full novel does the trick, but short doses of good storytelling are wonderful too! 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      I definitely agree about “short doses of good storytelling”!

      I find myself appreciating short fiction a lot more these days. Not just because they’re short and I have no time (as usual!). But also because I can appreciate the art and craft that goes behind making such a condense piece of work.

  • Mel u says:

    I am getting more and more into short stories. I admire the technical brilliance of Carver but I do not always like his subject matter. A limiting prejudice on my part.

    • Michelle says:

      I haven’t read enough of Carver to know what his usual subject matters are, but for what I’ve read so far, I rather like it.

      We all like different things. That’s what makes life interesting. =)

  • michelle says:

    You’ve got my interest piqued on Carver now. I know nothing about the writer nor the writing, beyond the name. But I have a penchant for stories/ writings that has loneliness as its theme, therefore reading your description on Carver’s writing has definitely made me want to check him out.

    • Michelle says:

      Maybe you could get a couple of his books at the sale coming in December? *wink* (I am so excited about it!)

      But coming back to Carver. Like I said, this is my first experience with him, and already liking the style and tone. Every story is unique so far, but there’s just something to the way the stories are crafted that draws me deep into them.

  • sakura says:

    I’ve heard so much about Carver and yet I still haven’t read him. I love short stories precisely because they can be poetic without having to be verbose. Plus their effect lasts much longer than the time it takes to read them. I will have to check Carver’s short stories out!

    • Michelle says:

      You’re right about their effect lasting longer. I haven’t given that much thought, but now that you mention it, I feel it too!

      If and when you do get around to reading Carver, I hope you like what you read. =)

  • Suko says:

    I haven’t read Carver either, but I know that I will. I like the idea of “no frills”–stories that contain only essential words to create mood and action and character (and whatever else is needed).

    Good to read your posts again!

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