Raymond Carver

Sunday, January 9, 2022 6:16:19 PM

Raymond Carver

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And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth. As Carver's will directed, Tess Gallagher assumed the management of his literary estate. Carver was nominated for the National Book Award for his first major-press collection, "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please" in and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his third major-press collection, Cathedral , the volume generally perceived as his best.

For his part, Carver perceived Cathedral as a watershed in his career for its shift toward a more optimistic and confidently poetic style amid the diminution of Lish's literary influence. In Carver's birth town of Clatskanie, Oregon, a memorial park and statue are at the corner of Lillich and Nehalem Streets, across from the library. A block away is the building where Carver was born. In December , Gallagher published an essay in The Sun magazine , titled "Instead of Dying", about alcoholism and Carver's having maintained his sobriety.

The first lines read: "Instead of dying from alcohol, Raymond Carver chose to live. I would meet him five months after this choice, so I never knew the Ray who drank, except by report and through the characters and actions of his stories and poems. Carver's widow, Tess Gallagher, refused to engage with Sklenicka. His final incomplete collection of seven stories, titled Elephant in Britain included in "Where I'm Calling From" was composed in the five years before his death. The nature of these stories, especially "Errand", have led to some speculation that Carver was preparing to write a novel. Tess Gallagher fought with Knopf for permission to republish the stories in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love as they were originally written by Carver, as opposed to the heavily edited and altered versions that appeared in under the editorship of Gordon Lish.

Carver's career was dedicated to short stories and poetry. He described himself as "inclined toward brevity and intensity" and "hooked on writing short stories" in the foreword of Where I'm Calling From , a collection published in and a recipient of an honorable mention in the New York Times article citing the best works of fiction of the previous 25 years. Another stated reason for his brevity was "that the story [or poem] can be written and read in one sitting. His subject matter was often focused on blue-collar experience, and was clearly reflective of his own life.

Characteristics of minimalism are generally seen as one of the hallmarks of Carver's work, although, as reviewer David Wiegand notes: [19]. He just wasn't built that way, which is why he's so good at picking the right details that will stand for many things. Carver's editor at Esquire , Gordon Lish , was instrumental in shaping his prose in this direction — where his earlier tutor John Gardner had advised Carver to use fifteen words instead of twenty-five, Lish instructed Carver to use five in place of fifteen.

Objecting to the "surgical amputation and transplantation" of Lish's heavy editing, Carver eventually broke with him. Carver's style has also been described as dirty realism , which connected him with a group of writers in the s and s that included Richard Ford and Tobias Wolff with both of whom Carver was closely acquainted, as well as others such as Ann Beattie , Frederick Barthelme , and Jayne Anne Phillips. With the exception of Beattie, who wrote about upper-middle-class people, these were writers who focused on sadness and loss in the everyday lives of ordinary people—often lower-middle class or isolated and marginalized people.

In his essay "On Influence", Carver states that, while he was an admirer of Ernest Hemingway 's fiction, he never saw him as an influence, citing instead the work of Lawrence Durrell. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. American writer and poet. For the darts player, see Ray Carver. Maryann Burk. Tess Gallagher. See also: Raymond Carver bibliography. This article lacks ISBNs for the books listed in it. Please make it easier to conduct research by listing ISBNs. August Retrieved Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life. New York: Scribner. ISBN Los Angeles Times. Stull, ed. June 20, Kirkus Reviews. Spring Seattle PI. Martin's Press. I am the owner of ArtInsights Animation and Film Art Gallery, which sells official film art by the filmmakers themselves.

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Be transparent. Use your real name, and back up your claims. Keep it local and relevant. Make sure your replies stay on topic. Review the Patch Community Guidelines. Does it matter whose work it is at all, as long as the work exists? One of the contentions is that the relationship between writer and editor changed over time so that Lish forced Carver to be more Carver-esque than he wanted to be. In one letter to Lish, Carver suggests as much, writing: "I know there are going to be stories… that aren't going to fit anyone's notion of what a Carver short story ought to be… But Gordon, God's truth… I can't undergo the kind of surgical amputation and transplant that might make them someway fit into the carton so the lid will close.

There may have to be limbs and heads of hair sticking out. On the other hand Carver was willing, even if a certain side of history casts him as a victim, and he did allow these stories to be published — indeed, in a letter written less than a week after the great missive of despair, Carver appears to give Lish carte blanche, saying only: "Please look at the suggestions I've pencilled in… even if you finally decide otherwise. In that last instance, Lish edited lightly and offered up the edit with an ominous note: "To do less than this would be, in my judgment, to expose you too greatly.

When Lish spoke about the matter to the New York Times journalist DT Max in , he told him of his "sustained sense of [Carver's] betrayal", and described Carver as a "mediocrity" he had discovered and made famous. When I contacted Lish for this piece, he sent a gracious reply, saying that he regretted what he had said about Carver already, and did not wish to say more. What can we now see from the stories themselves? Often Lish's edits improve minimally, give shape to what's there, or alter a phrase so that it's actually more in keeping with the voice Carver has invented. But at other times the feeling is very different — the characters can be more brutal, for instance, and less is made of the women.

Certain stories — "Beginners", one called "A Small Good Thing" retitled "The Bath" by Lish, and another called "Tell the Women We're Going" in both versions are different pieces of work altogether, with different plots and tone. A man murders two women instead of one; a couple never finds out if an injured son lives or dies. More generally, Lish's edits become slices that depend on silence and suggestion, on the reverberations of the barely glimpsed. Carver's original characters did a lot more talking — they told drunken anecdotes, they wept, they felt, they contemplated, confronted, confessed. These differences are not stylistic — unless you consider earnestness and emotion to be a matter of style rather than heart or disposition.

In the most changed of these stories, the edited characters simply would not behave the way Carver's original characters do; if they could, if they had the words or the taste to, there would, in a sense, be no story, since so much of Carver as we have known him until now is about what's unspoken. The edited characters well up; the original characters spill over. Carver hated to be called a "minimalist", and he was called one often. One wonders if he disliked the term because he knew that minimalism was the aspect of his writing that was least his own. If you are a Carver reader who mainly associates his work with a certain style, then you may be surprised to find that the style itself — his sentences and paragraphs, the blunt, mid-air endings of his stories — was in many cases engineered by Gordon Lish.

If, however, you take Carver's world as a whole — the brutality of intimacy, the unplaceability of anxiety, the mess any and all of us can make of love — you may think that Lish saw something in Carver, rather than imposing something else on him, and helped find a form to fit the content. Then there is the strange, small, yet perhaps emblematic change: a ritual alteration of characters' names, so that Herb becomes Mel, Bea becomes Rae, Kate becomes Melody, Cynthia becomes Myrna, and so on.

This habit in particular feels like an imposition, a suggestion that the editor knew the writer's inventions and his world better than he did himself. Here, you wonder how the relationship changed. Was the relationship between Lish and Carver parasitic or symbiotic, and if the former, which way round? These are vexed questions of ownership and identity, and one might, of course, ask them of any artist's relationship with anyone else, spouses and friends as much as editors. Gallagher, who says that she doesn't "necessarily feel that [Lish] is a villain", tells me that her interest is not in comparing the two versions. There was not as much of a leap as readers suppose. In this sense she is offering up Beginners as an item of interest rather than a finished piece of work — a bootleg if you will.

She won't say — and she smiles and she recedes from the proposition — whether she thinks one or the other is better. It also is a very intimate part of the story. You cannot throw that book away — it's a very important book. And I think there will be readers who will like some stories better, because of course that book has the advantage of having an editor. We could not go back when this book was restored and clean up things that you would cinch up if you were actually a line editor working with him on what you were going to allow to be his book. So we cannot make a fair comparison on that basis. We can just say what kind of writer we prefer. This is a smart, nuanced line for Gallagher to take.

After all, to seem to be intent on restoring the true genius of the original Ray while simultaneously reaping the benefits accrued to the other Ray might begin to look like a double standard. The only time she becomes remotely heated is when I mention the journalist DT Max, and ask why she didn't speak to him all those years ago? Max reported that Gallagher had refused copyright to a scholar who had been in the archive and wanted to show the extent of Lish's edits. She says she wanted readers to be able to judge for themselves. Does everyone want a piece of Raymond Carver? It seems that the much-theorised "death of the author" hasn't protected him from posthumous attacks. When you read about these battles, you wonder whether they are not serial acts of appropriation.

Even Carver's first wife has written a memoir, in which she writes of the early stories composed while she was married to Carver in a protective vein, saying she felt angry about Lish's changes. It all depends on what you think a "normal" relationship between a writer and an editor would be, what a "normal" marriage would be.

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