Yet these stories bear careful re-reading, like any truly important and enduring work. For one thing, Carver is one of the few writers who can make desperation--cutting your ex-wife's telephone cord in the middle of a conversation, standing on your own roof chunking rocks while a man with no hands takes your picture--deeply funny. Then there is the sheer craft that went into their creation. Despite their seeming simplicity, his tales are as artfully constructed as poems--and like poems, the best of them can make your breath catch in your throat. In the title piece, for instance, after the gin has been drunk, after the stories have been told, after the tensions in the room have come to the surface and subsided again, there comes a moment of strange lightness and peace: "I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone's heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark."
Much of what happens in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (1981) happens offstage, and we're left with tragedy's props: booze, instant coffee, furniture from a failed marriage, cigarettes smoked in the middle of the night. This is not merely a matter of technique. Carver leaves out a great deal, but that's only a measure of his characters' vulnerability, the nerve endings his stories lay bare. To say anything more, one feels, would simply hurt too much. --Mary Park
I've been using this book in literature classes in Japan, and I have to say that these stories have lost none of their power in the twenty-odd years since they first appeared in... Read morePublished on July 20 2003 by M. Hori
Like all of Carver's books, this one is excellent. What more can I say? Buy it, buy it, buy it!Published on Sept. 5 2002 by Joseph M. Campbell
This is the one book of Carver's that will endure, and we have Gordon Lish to thank for that.Published on July 19 2002
After reading the stories by this dead white man, I am convinced I will never truly understand any white man, dead or alive. I can't think of a better compliment than that.Published on Dec 7 2001 by cpparm
As an author with my debut novel in its initial release, I cut my first writing teeth on short stories and I clearly realize Raymond Carver's brilliance. Read morePublished on Aug. 11 2001 by Kent Braithwaite
Any true Carver fan will tell you that he is a "precisionist", not a "minimalist." That said, I still think this is the most minimalist of Carver's books. Read morePublished on Nov. 12 2000 by William Krischke