Why do we love Carver? 3 Comments

Why do we love Carver?

Obviously everyone in the world loves Raymond Carver. I had this lovely moment at TiNA where I was at a panel and someone mentioned Carver and the MC said “Who here likes Raymond Carver?” and most of the room put their hand up (the rest were probably just shy). But I want to know why everyone likes his writing.

In these days where we need constant action and radical adventures it is strange to see that his work is still so popular. In most of his stories nothing even happens. Some stories that spring to mind are the one where the couple go round to their friend’s house and the friends have a peacock and an ugly kid. They eat dinner together. Story ends. Or the one where the kid wags school and goes fishing. He catches a fish, brings it home, story ends. Sometimes big events occur, but so little is made of them that we can’t help but notice the characters instead.

I think I love his work because the snapshot we are given are so true to life that it is perfectly consistent that no really big events occur, most people’s lives are a series of small events that still change them in some way. He is also able to deal with really big emotions (usually despair or loss) without ever exaggerating them to get his point across

But I’d be interested in seeing why people think he is still so popular.

  • Kate

    I prefer Hemingway, who uses a similar technique. I think the succinctness and deceptive simplicity of the stories make them popular, as well as the working-to-middle-class characters that most people in Western society can relate to. There’s nothing pompous, nothing melodramatic, and no ‘check out my Oxford University vocabulary, plebs’ attitude.

  • http://www.samuelcooney.wordpress.com Sam

    Never underestimate sheer pleasure when reading, I think. Carver is labour-free, pure immersion fiction, whereby you find yourself three of four stories into a collection and had forgotten you were reading at all. Yes, sometimes it’s enjoyable to wrangle with an author in a kind of writer vs reader duel, re-reading sentences and lifting your eyes to ponder certain phrases or an odd situation or an unexpected plot twist, but the best Carver and Carveresque stories plop you gently into the life or lives of other people as simply as if you had walked into their living room and taken a seat on their threadbare, whiskey-stained, cigarette-ashy sofa.

  • Scott

    This may sound corny, but I think he brings out the extraordinary out of the ordinary. He’d rather write something about a fork than something about the emperor of China. I (and obviously most of us) respect that. Robert Altman (a mate of Carver) adapted a selection of his stories into a film. It’s called Short Cuts, and while no adaptation can live up to the book (especially when you’ve read the book first), it’s still definitely worth checking out:


    To thread on: What’s your favourtite Carver story, and why?