The contributors of the Short Story Station decided to shake things up a bit. Instead of one contributor selecting two short stories for the month, we have agreed to select one short story writer instead.
We will write a profile on the short story writer and review some of their works for the rest of the month. We hope that this will bring variety in the posts that you can read here. And we hope that this will give you more insight on the short story as a distinct form of literature.
That said, I’m happy to pick one of my favorite writers, Raymond Carver, as the Short Story Station’s first short story writer of the month.
Raymond Carver was an American short story writer born on May 25, 1938. He is known for his minimalist short stories that depict the intersecting daily lives in middle and lower class suburbia. Critics often compare him to Anton Chekhov and Ernest Hemingway, and describe his style as “dirty realism.” The writer John Barth called his style “hyperrealistic minimalism.” His works, in my opinion, have a car crash feel to them. As soon as you have just started to settle into the mood of one short story, the ending comes at you from the nearest corner and before you know it, the next page is already blinking with the next story.
The novelist John Gardner taught Carver in a writing course and consequently affected his career. Another person who shaped Carver’s career is the editor Gordon Lish, who is known for editing huge chunks of the writer’s prose. One example is What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, originally entitled Beginners. It is said that Lish cut the story nearly into half and added his own details. Today, it remains to be the quintessential Carver story whose title is often riffed into other works (What We Talk About When We Talk About [insert noun]).
Although Lish had a hand in Carver’s career particularly in the collections Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? and What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, it is not fair to assume that Carver did not have it in him. The collection Cathedral escaped Lish’s editing scalpel, thus resulting into more expansive pieces. But the humanity is still there, and the title story is even considered by most as his masterpiece. One can see that with or without Lish, Carver can write masterful stories.
Carver was married twice, first to Maryann Burk and next to the poet Tess Gallagher. In his forties, he suffered from alcoholism but recovered with the aid of Alcoholics Anonymous. He died on August 2, 1988 from lung cancer. He was 50 years old.
Aside from short stories, Carver also published poetry collections. But for the sake of this station, we will only list his short story collections and compilations below:
- Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (1976)
- Furious Seasons (1977)
- What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (1981)
- Cathedral (1983)
- Elephant (1988)
- Where I’m Calling From (1988)
- Short Cuts: Selected Stories (1993)
- Collected Stories (2009)
Here are some links to his short stories. If you find other Carver stories available out there, please let us know. And do join us in talking about Raymond Carver!