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A trick question for Raymond Carver

From the Archive, Issue 107

❶My wife was supposed to graduate and go on to the University of Washington to study law on a fellowship. In ensuing years, the house became so popular that the couple had to hang a sign outside that read "Writers At Work" in order to be left alone.

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In the fall of '78, with a new teaching position at the University of Texas at El Paso , Ray started seeing Tess Gallagher, a writer from Port Angeles , who would become his muse and wife near the end of his life. He tried to call me to talk about where we were.

I missed the calls. He knew he was about to invite Tess to Thanksgiving. Here it was, coming at me again, the same thing. I had to get on with my own life. But I never fell out of love with him. After being hospitalized three times between June and February or March , Carver began his "second life" and stopped drinking on June 2, , with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In , the two moved to Syracuse, New York , where Gallagher had been appointed the coordinator of the creative writing program at Syracuse University ; Carver taught as a professor in the English department. He and Gallagher jointly purchased a house in Syracuse, at Maryland Avenue. In ensuing years, the house became so popular that the couple had to hang a sign outside that read "Writers At Work" in order to be left alone.

In , he and his first wife, Maryann, were divorced. It was only in , six weeks prior to his death that Carver and Gallagher married in Reno, Nevada. In the same year, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The inscription on his tombstone reads:. 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 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: 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 high school sweetheart [14] and first wife, Maryann Burk Carver, wrote a memoir of her years with Carver, What it Used to be Like: 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. Henry Award in 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: 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.

For the darts player, see Ray Carver darts player. Toyon volume 9 no. Two Interviews with Raymond Carver". Archived from the original on The New York Times. Collected Stories The Library of America ". Retrieved 11 May Esquire in the Sixties , pp. Retrieved from " https: Raymond Carver births deaths 20th-century American poets American male short story writers American short story writers 20th-century American short story writers California State University, Chico alumni Deaths from cancer in Washington state Deaths from lung cancer Guggenheim Fellows Iowa Writers' Workshop alumni Minimalist writers O.

Wikipedia articles needing page number citations from August All articles with vague or ambiguous time Vague or ambiguous time from August All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from August Articles with unsourced statements from June Articles with unsourced statements from December Articles with unsourced statements from August Articles with unsourced statements from March Articles with unsourced statements from April All articles with dead external links Articles with dead external links from April Articles with permanently dead external links CS1 maint: We asked Carver if that house would feel more like a home to him.

I grew up in a small town in eastern Washington, a place called Yakima. My dad worked at the sawmill there. He was a saw filer and helped take care of the saws that were used to cut and plane the logs. My mother worked as a retail clerk or a waitress or else stayed at home, but she didn't keep any job for very long. My dad's nerve medicine was whiskey. Most often he kept a bottle of it under that same sink, or else outside in the woodshed.

I remember sneaking a taste of it once and hating it, and wondering how anybody could drink the stuff. Home was a little two-bedroom house. We moved a lot when I was a kid, but it was always into another little two-bedroom house.

The first house I can remember living in, near the fairgrounds in Yakima, had an outdoor toilet. This was in the late s. I was eight or ten years old then. I used to wait at the bus stop for my dad to come home from work. Usually he was as regular as clockwork. But every two weeks or so, he wouldn't be on the bus. I'd stick around then and wait for the next bus, but I already knew he wasn't going to be on that one, either.

When this happened, it meant he'd gone drinking with friends of his from the sawmill. I still remember the sense of doom and hopelessness that hung over the supper table when my mother and I and my kid brother sat down to eat. The only explanation I can give you is that my dad told me lots of stories about himself when he was a kid, and about his dad and his grandfather.

His grandfather had fought in the Civil War. He fought for both sides! He was a turncoat. When the South began losing the war, he crossed over to the North and began fighting for the Union forces. My dad laughed when he told this story.

He didn't see anything wrong with it, and I guess I didn't either. Anyway, my dad would tell me stories, anecdotes really, no moral to them, about tramping around in the woods, or else riding the rails and having to look out for railroad bulls. I loved his company and loved to listen to him tell me these stories. Once in a while he'd read something to me from what he was reading.

These were the first real hardback books, outside of grade-school texts, and the Bible, that I'd ever seen. It wouldn't happen very often, but now and again I'd see him lying on the bed of an evening and reading from Zane Grey.

It seemed a very private act in a house and family that were not given to privacy. I realized that he had this private side to him, something I didn't understand or know anything about, but something that found expression through this occasional reading.

I was interested in that side of him and interested in the act itself. I'd ask him to read me what he was reading, and he'd oblige by just reading from wherever he happened to be in the book. In those days, I went fishing in this creek that was not too far from our house. A little later, I started hunting ducks and geese and upland game. That's what excited me in those days, hunting and fishing. That's what made a dent in my emotional life, and that's what I wanted to write about.

I wrote a longish thing about the fish that got away, or the fish I caught, one or the other, and asked my mother if she would type it up for me. She couldn't type, but she did go rent a typewriter, bless her heart, and between the two of us, we typed it up in some terrible fashion and sent it out. I remember there were two addresses on the masthead of the outdoors magazine; so we sent it to the office closest to us, to Boulder, Colorado, the circulation department.

The piece came back, finally, but that was fine. It had gone out in the world, that manuscript—it had been places. Somebody had read it besides my mother, or so I hoped anyway. It was a photograph of a man, a successful author, obviously, testifying to something called the Palmer Institute of Authorship.

That seemed like just the thing for me. There was a monthly payment plan involved. Twenty dollars down, ten or fifteen dollars a month for three years or thirty years, one of those things.

There were weekly assignments with personal responses to the assignments. I stayed with it for a few months. Then, maybe I got bored; I stopped doing the work. My folks stopped making the payments. Pretty soon a letter arrived from the Palmer Institute telling me that if I paid them up in full, I could still get the certificate of completion. This seemed more than fair. Somehow I talked my folks into paying the rest of the money, and in due time I got the certificate and hung it up on my bedroom wall.

But all through high school it was assumed that I'd graduate and go to work at the sawmill. For a long time I wanted to do the kind of work my dad did. He was going to ask his foreman at the mill to put me on after I graduated. So I worked at the mill for about six months. But I hated the work and knew from the first day I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life. I worked long enough to save the money for a car, buy some clothes, and so I could move out and get married.

Somehow, for whatever reasons, you went to college. Was it your wife who wanted you to go on to college? Did she encourage you in this respect? Did she want to go to college and that made you want to go? How old were you at this point?


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Constantly struggling to support his wife and family, Carver enrolled in a writing programme under author John Gardner in He saw this opportunity as a turni Carver was born into a poverty-stricken family at the tail-end of the Depression/5.

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Raymond Carver lives in a large, two-story, wood-shingled house on a quiet street in Syracuse, New York. The front lawn slopes down to the sidewalk. A new Mercedes sits in the driveway.

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“On Writing” by Raymond Carver. from The Story and its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. 6th Edition. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, Speaking at the Manchester Literary Festival, James Lasdun – probably the closest in recent years this country has come to a genuinely great practitioner of the short story – expressed dismay at the publication of Beginners; the original, more expansive version of Raymond Carver's minimalist masterpiece What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

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Nov 22,  · Writing talent often runs on its own clean circuit (as the Library of America’s “Raymond Carver: Collected Stories” attests), but writers whose works shine with insight and mystery are often prosaic monsters at home. Raymond Carver, in full Raymond Clevie Carver, (born May 25, , Clatskanie, Oregon, U.S.—died August 2, , Port Angeles, Washington), American short-story writer and poet whose realistic writings about the working poor mirrored his own life.