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Customer Review

3.0 out of 5 stars Simple people, simple lives, special stories, April 7 2003
This review is from: Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories (Paperback)
There is nothing particularly special about Raymond Carver's characters. Without doubt that is what makes them so interesting. They are everyday people with everyday lives. They dislike their jobs and they fight with their wives, they drink beer and smoke cigarettes. At their core, they are a pretty accurate reflection of the average American. So what's so interesting about that? Well, nothing really. Except that Carver has the power to make these people real. And it's not through elaborate, flowery prose. None of that in these stories, thank you very much. Carver uses the minimum number of words and still creates fascinating human characters with deep emotions and complex idiosyncracies. His characters are raw and edgy. And Carver catches them at their best and at the worst. He seems to witness them when they think they are all alone and no one is watching.
This is a fairly comprehensive collection of stories ranging through Carver's writing career. What impresses me most is that the stories are consistently good - even the early ones. And just when you think you have him figured out, he throws a curve ball at you, as with the last story in the collection titled "Errand." While the other 36 stories are set in present-day America and focus on anonymous characters, this one tells the final days of Russia's great playwright, Anton Chekhov, in the late 1800's. And while it is a dramatic departure from his typical style and substance, it still works remarkably well. It's almost as if he is teasing us with a glimpse of his depth and range.
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