It’s your friendly KF on KND Editor April Hamilton here, and ever since I got my first monochrome “keyboard” Kindle, I’ve wanted to add the works of celebrated American novelist and poet Raymond Carver to my digital library. But up until earlier this year, they have not been available. Finally, Vintage has brought Carver into the digital age!
The first two selections here are a great place to start if you have no familiarity with this accessible, yet profound author. They provide an excellent overview of both his stories and poems.
By the time of his early death in 1988, Raymond Carver had established himself as one of the great practitioners of the American short story, a writer who had not only found his own voice but imprinted it in the imaginations of thousands of readers.
Where I’m Calling From, his last collection, encompasses classic stories from Cathedral, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and earlier Carver volumes, along with seven new works previously unpublished in book form.
Together, these 37 stories give us a superb overview of Carver’s life work and show us why he was so widely imitated but never equaled.
More than sixty stories, poems, and essays are included in this wide-ranging collection by the extravagantly versatile Raymond Carver. Two of the stories—–later revised for What We Talk About When We Talk About Love–—are particularly notable in that between the first and the final versions, we see clearly the astounding process of Carver’s literary development.
“You should read Fires now. These stories and poems…show the enormous talent of Raymond Carver beginning to take hold.” -San Francisco Chronicle
“Seminal in Carver studies…A disparate collection of work bound by a unity of vision and obsession.” -Los Angeles Herald Examiner
“Carver’s most revealing book…This collection confirms the worth of Raymond Carver’s work…Like bright birds in distant trees, Carver’s stories appear in flashes, glimpses; Fires reveals the arc of his purposeful flight.” -The Boston Globe
These last three are for the more serious Carver reader, who wants a more in-depth journey through the fictional world and works of Carver.
In his second collection, including the iconic and much-referenced title story featured in the Academy Award-winning film Birdman, Carver establishes his reputation as one of the most celebrated short-story writers in American literature—a haunting meditation on love, loss, and companionship, and finding one’s way through the dark.
“What other writer ever produced…sentences like these? They are like doors into Carverworld, where everyone speaks in simple declarative phrases, no one ever stops at one beer, and failure or violence are the true outcomes of the American dream…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…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
With this, his first collection of stories, Raymond Carver breathed new life into the American short story. Carver shows us the humor and tragedy that dwell in the hearts of ordinary people; his stories are the classics of our time.
“Carver has made himself the natural successor to his true mentor, Chekhov” -Financial Times
“He is alert to the unique, inconspicuous incident, when a life or a marriage may change course decisively.” -Sunday Telegraph
“There is nobody else like him. In some ways his pared-down style is an extreme development of the Hemingway style, but Carver writes about women and the ways men relate to them far more convincingly than Hemingway ever did.” -Frank Kermode
Raymond Carver’s third collection of stories, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, including the canonical titular story about blindness and learning to enter the very different world of another.
These twelve stories mark a turning point in Carver’s work and “overflow with the danger, excitement, mystery and possibility of life. . . . Carver is a writer of astonishing compassion and honesty. . . . his eye set only on describing and revealing the world as he sees it. His eye is so clear, it almost breaks your heart” (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World).