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Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (Vintage Classics)

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With this, his first collection, Carver breathed new life into the short story. In the pared-down style that has since become his hallmark, Carver showed how humour and tragedy dwell in the hearts of ordinary people, and won a readership that grew with every subsequent brilliant collection of stories, poems and essays that appeared in the last eleven years of his life.


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With this, his first collection, Carver breathed new life into the short story. In the pared-down style that has since become his hallmark, Carver showed how humour and tragedy dwell in the hearts of ordinary people, and won a readership that grew with every subsequent brilliant collection of stories, poems and essays that appeared in the last eleven years of his life.

30 review for Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (Vintage Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    And here it is...the best collection of short stories I've ever read. Where has Carver been all my life? Why did no one slap me over the head with his work fifteen years ago? I mourn that it took me this long to discover him and now I must get my little claws on everything Carver asap. How the heck can a writer capture so much power into super-short stories. I'm talking ten page stories. How?! Each one is a stand alone masterpiece with so much authenticity and sense of reality and yet, they are a And here it is...the best collection of short stories I've ever read. Where has Carver been all my life? Why did no one slap me over the head with his work fifteen years ago? I mourn that it took me this long to discover him and now I must get my little claws on everything Carver asap. How the heck can a writer capture so much power into super-short stories. I'm talking ten page stories. How?! Each one is a stand alone masterpiece with so much authenticity and sense of reality and yet, they are all small perfect little dreams of sadness. All the characters are mourning themselves, they're all hurting so beautifully. I re-read several of these stories already and will tuck this gem away to re-read forever. Stand outs: “They’re Not your Husband” - Just the imagery alone is so tangible and delightful. I loved this twisted and cruel tale. It felt like a movie, a TV show, a full length novel. I wanted to stay in that diner and watch the dysfunction for hours over a slice of pie. “Nobody Said Anything” - Such melancholy. “Collectors” - Oh strangeness! Is there anything more lonely than a door to door vacuum salesman? No. “Jerry and Molly and Sam” - Trapped trapped trapped. This was a mini Yates story. The writing is haunting and soaked in a sense of foreboding. Heart-breaking. Wonderful.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Just as Flannery O'Connor's stories take place at a pivotal turning point in her characters' lives, Raymond Carver's are centred over a make-it-or-break-it moment. You see, it's the breaking that matters to Carver, the breaking that he captures through his unflinching lens. His stories (which are truly short, often 6-8 pages) bring us straight into the broken heart, and we are left at the end to imagine or envision what comes next. What comes next isn't as important as the breaking, the crisis, Just as Flannery O'Connor's stories take place at a pivotal turning point in her characters' lives, Raymond Carver's are centred over a make-it-or-break-it moment. You see, it's the breaking that matters to Carver, the breaking that he captures through his unflinching lens. His stories (which are truly short, often 6-8 pages) bring us straight into the broken heart, and we are left at the end to imagine or envision what comes next. What comes next isn't as important as the breaking, the crisis, which can either lead to change or healing, or can be a signpost for more of the same to come. Published in 1976, this is Carver's first collection. Earlier this month I read What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (my review here) and in those pages I discovered a new favourite writer. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please (goodness, I love this title) was also a pleasure, although I found this debut collection slightly uneven, maybe a little less accessible than his later work. Despite certain difficulties, Carver rewards a close reader with scattered Easter eggs that shed light onto deeper meaning. For example, in 'What's In Alaska?', the casual get-together is littered with phallic symbols (hookah pipe, bottles of cream soda, popsicles). Foreshadowing of the "U-No" (you know) bars indicate that the main character is going to find out something important. Then the imagery of the cat eating the mouse which is revisited at the end is a grim vision of a cuckold and the man who defeats him. Including the above, these are my favourite stories of the 22: * 'Fat' - a waitress is touched and changed after serving an obese man * 'They're Not Your Husband' - an out of work salesman makes his wife lose weight after he hears people making nasty remarks about her figure * 'Jerry and Molly and Sam' - a man abandons the family dog, believing it will help solve his problems * 'Why, Honey?' - a mother who lives in fear of her son, who is now a powerful politician * 'Are These Actual Miles?' - a couple who have lived the high life and now face bankruptcy, are forced to sell their convertible * 'Signals' - a couple on the verge of separation go fine dining in the hopes of reconciliation * 'Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?' - a man asks his wife to tell him what really happened at a party two years ago, and the truth hurts Each of these stories are told in his signature minimalist style. They are stripped naked - scars and flaws and ugliness there to be seen in cruel daylight. Documenting the tsunamis of every day life, these stories demand to be read with attention - every word on the page is important, otherwise it wouldn't be there. Oh, Raymond Carver. What a master at capturing glimpses of life, the beauty and tragedy we all experience when it breaks. It doesn't get much better than this. 4.5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “Not in pictures she had seen nor in any book she had read had she learned a sunrise was so terrible as this.” ― Raymond Carver, "The Student's Wife" in Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? A collection of 22 short stories averaging about 6-8 pages each (a couple might stray into the 11-15 page range) that Carver wrote during what Carver called his "Bad Raymond days" or "First Life" (1960-1974) . Disclosure, like in other short story collections, I may have put one star too many on some of these and “Not in pictures she had seen nor in any book she had read had she learned a sunrise was so terrible as this.” ― Raymond Carver, "The Student's Wife" in Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? A collection of 22 short stories averaging about 6-8 pages each (a couple might stray into the 11-15 page range) that Carver wrote during what Carver called his "Bad Raymond days" or "First Life" (1960-1974) . Disclosure, like in other short story collections, I may have put one star too many on some of these and accidentally left of a star when I should have actually included it it on several. I read these stories in San Diego drinking Diet Coke while laying under palm shade on fake grass at the Hotel del Coronado. I probably should have been drinking cheap bourbon to really get more into it. But that's it. I can't imagine getting MORE into it. Carver's spare writing guts me. I feel like I'm exposed, raw, and sore. He is brutal. Several stories almost made me cry (and I'm not a casual literary crybaby). While reading this, I kept thinking how different directors (Not Altman) would direct these stories? Some seemed almost Lynchian (the macabre hiding under the banal and normal), while some seemed more like they gave a K-Mart meets Alfonso Cuarón vibe. I liked the idea of him as the poor-man's Hemingway, but he is more human and brutal than just that. He captures humanity at the point where we break (and we all break). 1 "Fat" - ★★★★ 2 "Neighbors" - ★★★★★ 3 "The Idea"- ★★★★ 4 "They're Not Your Husband" - ★★★★★ 5 "Are You a Doctor?" - ★★★ 6 "The Father" - ★★★ 7 "Nodody Said Anything" - ★★★★ 8 "Sixty Acres" - ★★★ 9 "What's In Alaska?" - ★★★★★ 10 "Night School" - ★★★★ 11 "Collectors" - ★★★★ 12 "What Do You Do in San Francisco" - ★★★★ 13 "The Student's Wife" - ★★★★★ 14 "Put Yourself In My Shoes" - ★★★★ 15 "Jerry and Molly and Sam" - ★★★★★ 16 "Why, Honey?" - ★★★★ 17 "The Ducks" - ★★★★★ 18 "How About This?" - ★★★★ 19 "Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes" - ★★★★★ 20 "Are These Actual Miles?" - ★★★★★ 21 "Signals" - ★★★★ 22 "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?" - ★★★★★

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Had to drive a bit and I just happened to see this as an audiobook edition of the collection from a master short story writer, one of the best ever, imo; he is sometimes referred to disparagingly as a "K-mart realist." In other words, a working class writer, writing about the down and out. Since I grew up working class, I have always liked the world out of which Carver writes. He's a minimalist in the tone of Edward Hopper. Or think of him as a working-class Hemingway; no adverbs, everything str Had to drive a bit and I just happened to see this as an audiobook edition of the collection from a master short story writer, one of the best ever, imo; he is sometimes referred to disparagingly as a "K-mart realist." In other words, a working class writer, writing about the down and out. Since I grew up working class, I have always liked the world out of which Carver writes. He's a minimalist in the tone of Edward Hopper. Or think of him as a working-class Hemingway; no adverbs, everything stripped down to match the edge of the abyss that his characters face. Read it to a soundtrack by Tom Waits. The working class folks Carver writes about here are not elegant, or particularly insightful. They drink too much and they make serious mistakes. They are screw-ups, mostly, though I come to care for them. These stories are not always fun to read for the plots (though they are often very entertaining in a black humor vein), but they are wonderful stories for helping see what a story can do and be. And how fragile humans can be. Dialogue rich. I like What We Talk About When We Talk about Love better, but these are fine stories. Many of them were featured in some fashion in Robert Altman’s fine movie Short Cuts. Some highlights: “Fat” --A waitress serves a morbidly obese man, and while everyone else in the restaurant makes fun of him, she becomes moved by him, changed. “Neighbors--A couple house-sitting for their neighbors get voyeuristic about them, taking over the house, gradually, almost absurdly. “They’re Not your Husband”—A guy visits his wife, a waitress, at her restaurant, and hears some guys laugh at how fat she is. Without referring to the incident, he encourages her to diet, and she agrees, he helps her, and in a matter of weeks goes back to the restaurant and says complimentary things about her to a guy, not identifying himself as her husband. “Jerry and Molly and Sam”--A man on the edge--of anxiety? doom?--decides to begin changing his life by getting rid of their unruly dog, just letting him out on the edge of town. When he comes home to his frantic family, he realizes his mistake and desperately tries to rectify the situation. “Are These Actual Miles?”—A man out of work whose wife sells their car doesn’t get home until dawn, dropped off by the guy who bought it. “Will You Please be Quiet Please?”--Two teachers who claim they are happy, with two kids, suddenly talk about a time at a drunken party two years ago when she kissed—or more?—some friend who was there. Her husband gets suddenly, inexplicably crazy about it, goes out and gets drunk, and sees how his life must suddenly change now. This is my favorite one, in spite of how desperately crazy and unhappy it is. Like watching a slow motion car crash. The point in most of these stories is that most of these people will now change, and not usually for the best. The stories are, however, unsentimentally compassionate about the screw-ups the people almost always are. Sad, but masterful stories in a minimalist way.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    It's a little difficult to be quiet when short story writing is this good. I feel I should be shouting from the rooftops - "Read Raymond Carver!" No doubt someone will look up in bewilderment and shout back "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please!" This is Carver's first published collection of short stories, but the one I read last, after 'Cathedral', 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' (my personal favourite), and 'Elephant and Other Stories'. Carver didn't just breathe new life into the short s It's a little difficult to be quiet when short story writing is this good. I feel I should be shouting from the rooftops - "Read Raymond Carver!" No doubt someone will look up in bewilderment and shout back "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please!" This is Carver's first published collection of short stories, but the one I read last, after 'Cathedral', 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' (my personal favourite), and 'Elephant and Other Stories'. Carver didn't just breathe new life into the short story, he made a new one all on his own. His approach is minimal, non glossy and pared-down in style, writing of the everyday ordinary Americans that simply live out their mundane lives. There is nothing fancy here, just the everyday problems and hiccups that face most people. His characters are so believable, and the dialogue he uses between them, is just great and so true. It's like standing in someone's living room or bedroom unnoticed and listening in on all sorts of conversations and interactions. Carver is a writer that, simply put, knows people so perfectly. Through love, lust, sorrow, loss, bitterness, sadness, exuberance, darkened thoughts, suspicions, he brings to vivid life the world behind closed doors and gets to the core of our being. Some say he is phenomenal, others, a genius. I would tend to agree. His prose is taut and lean, sometimes raw and melancholic but always so magnificent in it's simplicity. He engages with the reader on such a deep level, and directly gets to the uncomfortable subtext of the everyday. He is the ultimate kitchen sink writer, who never gets sentimental or melodramatic, but just sticks to the bare truths whether they are comfortable or uncomfortable. We feel his characters like our own. Great stuff!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine

    This has been one of the most rewarding, most enjoyable years I've had in more than two decades of being an insatiable reader. I've discovered new authors to idolize, fallen even harder for longstanding heroes, experienced the rabid glee of revisiting much-loved works and immersed myself in genres that I suddenly cannot live without. Unfortunately, the awe of January's introduction to the raw beauty of Raymond Carver (who has forever changed my interest in and opinion of short stories for the be This has been one of the most rewarding, most enjoyable years I've had in more than two decades of being an insatiable reader. I've discovered new authors to idolize, fallen even harder for longstanding heroes, experienced the rabid glee of revisiting much-loved works and immersed myself in genres that I suddenly cannot live without. Unfortunately, the awe of January's introduction to the raw beauty of Raymond Carver (who has forever changed my interest in and opinion of short stories for the better with his mastery of the medium) fell by the wayside as I became increasingly besotted with the way post-modernism blew apart everything I thought I knew about my bookish taste. What a delight it was to return to the terse, hyper-reality of Carver's deceptively short and tightly structured snapshots of life. My wariness of short stories stems from reading too many undeveloped or overwrought examples of it; Carver, however, is the king of cramming years of quiet suffering into an eight-page story, of building agonizing suspense in a matter of lines, of making the reader feel every aching pang of every one of his characters. That doesn't sound terribly delightful, does it? But it is. It so is. Because not one of these fictional feelings that evoke real-life responses comes even close to the conflicted bliss of losing oneself in page after minutely crafted page of brilliant, profoundly disquieting storytelling. Neither wishing a story would end so these characters could be put out of their misery while also not wanting to get closer to finishing one of Carver's precious few works nor the growing knot in my stomach while reading some of these stories kept me from rolling around in his words with nerdy abandon. I wasn't as universally drawn to the characters in these stories as I was with "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love": There seemed to be more Domestic Strife With Children (which I can't relate to) in this collection and the instances of people being less than awesome to animals (which I can't deal with) automatically turned me off a little bit. But that's really where my petty complaints stop. Most of these stories felt like those moments of stark clarity right before the shit hits the fan, when a carpet stain or isolated section of tablecloth pattern is your entire field of vision because it's the only thing keeping your world together with its desperate normalcy. It captures those moments that become significant not for what they are but rather for what they're a prelude to. And I love that so many of these taciturn tales start like an establishing shot before slowly zeroing in on the heart of the matter with an intimidating combination of misdirection, back story and realism to underscore the rising action that's typically outside the scope of these stories. Carver shows (not tells!) that there's so much more than the traditional climax of a story, that sometimes the rising action is more indicative of the resolution than anything else. There are so many directions for the narrative to go as Carver keeps fine-tuning its path, usually arriving at an ending drenched with hopelessness and only one logical, deftly implied conclusion. It's a morbid celebration of how all these tiny moments comprise the bigger picture and determine the trajectory of a life. The juxtaposition of the stories' unusual focal points (chopping wood, aimless wandering, awkward small talk) against very relatable troubles (children's skirmishes that call for adults' intervention, unhappy marriages, occupational dissatisfaction, feeling like the American Dream is always juuuuust out of reach) is the best kind of understatement. Even with my favorite literary device being expertly executed over and over again, what I found especially interesting was that all these little details concerning everything BUT the very unhappy elephant in the room offered such a vivid contrast between the way people lived in the '60s and '70s compared to the way we live now: So much has changed in the world and absolutely nothing has changed about the human condition. I'd be willing to bet that Carver's legacy will include the way his writing both serves as a time capsule of human sadness and offers irrefutable evidence that quiet misery is modern society's major linking factor because we've all been keenly acquainted with any five emotions tearing through these pages at some point in our pasts.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kusaimamekirai

    These stories are uniformly bleak, piercing vignettes into the disappointments and insecurities of working class people. The relentlessness of the raw pain on display here was very stark and at times very, very difficult to continue reading. That being said, these are some of the most beautifully written stories you are likely to come across, even if you need to take some time to recuperate in between finishing one and starting another.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    You can use this book as an antidote to Donald Barthelme. And then if you get too minimal you can add a bit of Barthelme back into the mix. Like a cocktail. I can't imagine those two would get on in shortstorywriterheaven. I bet the Minimalists and the Pomos have vicious football matches every Sunday. Brute strength and singleness of purpose vs. fancy footwork and sneering. Note on Short Cuts by Robert Altman, a movie made out of Carver stories : surprisingly, nay, amazingly, it's great. In true You can use this book as an antidote to Donald Barthelme. And then if you get too minimal you can add a bit of Barthelme back into the mix. Like a cocktail. I can't imagine those two would get on in shortstorywriterheaven. I bet the Minimalists and the Pomos have vicious football matches every Sunday. Brute strength and singleness of purpose vs. fancy footwork and sneering. Note on Short Cuts by Robert Altman, a movie made out of Carver stories : surprisingly, nay, amazingly, it's great. In true Altmanesque style all the stories and characters weave in and out of each other and with one single exception (the story of the cellist, which isn't by Carver, the only one) it all works a treat. Might even be Altman's finest moment. Certainly one of Tom Waits'. ***** Here's a summary - might be useful... “Fat” - A waitress serves a fat man and is moved by the experience. “Neighbors”* - A couple house-sitting for neighbors are gradually taking over their neighbors’ lives. They begin to enjoy the feeling of voyeurism and begin to hope: One says, “Maybe they won’t come back.” “The Idea” - A couple spies on a man who spies on his own wife from his garden. “They’re Not your Husband”* - An out of work salesman makes his waitress wife diet when he realises that other men think she’s fat. “Are you a Doctor?” - A woman calls a doctor by accident, it’s a wrong number. She begs him to meet her and he does. “The Father” - A mother and grandfather and daughter discuss the new baby’s features. “But who does Daddy look like?” “Nobody Said Anything” - A boy tries to impress his parents, who are always fighting, by catching a big fish. “Sixty Acres” - A Native American accosts two young kids shooting ducks on his land. He lets them go. He decides to lease some of his land. “What’s in Alaska?” - Two couples get stoned on marijuana and LSD one evening. “Night School” - A man is out of work and living with his parents. He meets two women in a bar and tells them. “I’d say you’re kind of old for that.” “Collectors”* - A vacuum salesman demonstrator shows up at the house of an unemployed man. He pointlessly goes through his sales patter. “What do you do in San Francisco?” - A postman observes the young couple who move in next door. They seem to break up quite quickly. “The Student’s Wife” - A night of insomnia. “Put yourself in my Shoes” - Coming back from an office party, a couple are interrogated and insulted in a strange meeting with their landlord and his wife. “Jerry and Molly and Sam”* - A man is driven crazy by the family dog and decides to get rid of it by dumping it on the edge of town. He soon changes his mind. “Why Honey?” - Letter from the mother of an apparently pathological liar who has become President of the United States. “I should be proud but I am afraid.” “The Ducks” - At work the foreman suddenly dies, so everyone is sent home. At home one man fails to use the opportunity to have sex with his wife. “How About This?” - A couple come to look at her father’s deserted place in the country. Maybe they will move there. “Bicycles, muscles, Cigarettes”* - A man quits smoking. He calls round to the house of a friend of his son where a dispute is in progress over a missing bike. He and the accused boy’s father have a fight. “Are These Actual Miles?” - An unemployed man’s wife goes out to sell their car and doesn’t return until dawn. “Signals” - A couple in a flashy restaurant seems to be trying to find out if they still have a future together. “I don’t mind admitting I’m just a lowbrow.” “Will you please be quiet please?”* - The story of Ralph and Marian, two students who marry and become teachers. Ralph becomes obsessed with the idea that Marian was unfaithful to him once in the past. Ralph gets drunk and feels his whole life changing once he finds out the truth *used in Altman's movie Short Cuts

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    3 and a half stars, rounded up because it demands a re-read in the future. In my experience, American realism is about minimalism, simplicity and directness. And while Carver’s prose is clean, minimalist, simple and direct, his stories truly are anything but. My husband strongly recommended his work to me, and I picked up his first published collection (instead of the more famous “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”) because the title made me smile. That smile did not last long; it was qu 3 and a half stars, rounded up because it demands a re-read in the future. In my experience, American realism is about minimalism, simplicity and directness. And while Carver’s prose is clean, minimalist, simple and direct, his stories truly are anything but. My husband strongly recommended his work to me, and I picked up his first published collection (instead of the more famous “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”) because the title made me smile. That smile did not last long; it was quickly replaced by a slightly puzzled frown. What the Hell did I get myself into with these short stories? Each of these short stories seem to contain more than one tale: there’s the story on the surface, the one that meets the eye, and then there’s something else going on in the murky waters below. I’d get to the end of one short story and get the urge to start again from the beginning, because I felt like I had missed a crucial detail. I was also stunned that none of them really give the reader any kind of resolution, so they linger in the mind like a weird taste at the back of your tongue, while you try to figure out what might have happened to these characters after the final word of their story. Those stories capture something of the American working-poor life, the ever-looming squalor, the lack of refinement in the characters’ lives. The glimpses into the lives of those people Carver gives us are deliberately unhappy: he wants to make the reader uncomfortable, ill at ease, if only so they get a taste of what these people’s entire existence was like. There is disappointment, sadness, jealousy, loneliness, despair, bitterness and secrets on almost every page. People who wish they had their neighbours’ lives, a husband who reacts in all the wrong ways when someone makes a nasty comment about his wife, a kid desperately trying to escape his parents’ fighting, a man finally facing his wife's infidelity. So why read this if it’s so goddamned sad? It’s a valid question. Because the Spartan prose is beautiful, because the sad settings and sad characters are somehow distilled into something almost universal, like a snapshot of an authentic American experience. Carver’s voice is unsettling, but strong and moving. There is also a surprisingly and dark humour that runs through those stories, the kind that will make you cringe more than laugh. It also occurred to me that stories like that could not be set anywhere else than in the Rust Belt or North West: it doesn’t matter that they were written over forty years ago, the locality is palpable in the writing. There is a sort of resiliency, a hardness that only comes from seeing the world around oneself turn into a trap; the way a certain part of the Mid and North West of the United-States that turned from land of industrial prosperity into a wasteland of broken promises. I will definitely be reading more Raymond Carver.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris_P

    Carver's stories made me feel from uncomfortable to deeply sad. They all feel like a sunset in a small town with the smell of damp soil in the air and the yellow grass shining like gold against the sun. Don't ask me to explain it, but even the ones that take place on cold, winter nights felt like that to me. I never thought that such short stories could be so whole, so full of meaning and human emotions. The titular story is a masterpiece in itself. Carver's stories made me feel from uncomfortable to deeply sad. They all feel like a sunset in a small town with the smell of damp soil in the air and the yellow grass shining like gold against the sun. Don't ask me to explain it, but even the ones that take place on cold, winter nights felt like that to me. I never thought that such short stories could be so whole, so full of meaning and human emotions. The titular story is a masterpiece in itself.

  11. 5 out of 5

    L.S. Popovich

    I surprised myself with this second reading by not wanting to give the collection 5 stars. Carver's first collection is relatively short - as was everything he published - the man was not very prolific. I'll review his major publications as I get through them in the LOA collection, then read the Poetry and uncollected stories and essays. All told, about 1600 pages of material by Carver exists. This first 181 pages of it is middling Carver - him feeling out the style which would come to redefine I surprised myself with this second reading by not wanting to give the collection 5 stars. Carver's first collection is relatively short - as was everything he published - the man was not very prolific. I'll review his major publications as I get through them in the LOA collection, then read the Poetry and uncollected stories and essays. All told, about 1600 pages of material by Carver exists. This first 181 pages of it is middling Carver - him feeling out the style which would come to redefine much of American short story writing. In some ways it is reminiscent of Chekhov, but there is a more subdued quality. Less variety. Very little figurative language, sometimes what is being stated is completely literal, and other times he will end a story on a disquieting and eerily imaginative note. A lot of the time he simply states what his characters are doing. Every story features cigarettes and heavy drinking, most of them contain some form of violence of verbal abuse, and you might suspect the author was simply writing about himself. Though Carver's life resembled some of his characters' in places, there is certainly a detectable distance. Occasional satire. Much dry, artful humor. Straight-faced, utterly bland recountings of a day or two of life. Yet the voice is supremely clear, and extremely compelling. Writers who have appropriated this style in part or expanded upon it include: Murakami, Denis Johnson, Joy Williams, and many others. It is not hard to understand Carver's influence once you get into reading his stories. So distinctive, tight and absorbing, yet so plain, so straightforward, always effortless. Contained in this collection are tales of marital strife, stories about men sitting around in bars, men acting like macho men but really crying inside, fishing, thinking about chicks, sitting around the kitchen table drinking, smoking often, acting like that 'one guy' at social gatherings who has to ruin the fun for everybody. In short, they are very bleak, utterly depressing, and memorable, but tend to blend together. A lot of subtext in the dialogue, as if he were imitating Hemingway. Not everyone will dig this first book, but what comes later, that's where it gets interesting.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    I'm not sure whether I've given five stars to a collection of short stories before, but these were outstanding. Carver's penetrating depictions of the ordinary and extraordinary struggles of married life are refreshingly honest, gritty and disturbing. He finds simple moments that are filled with subtle implications, and he has this way of just walking away and leaving unsaid the most salient element of the story, forcing the reader to adopt the anguish of the characters, and denying any catharti I'm not sure whether I've given five stars to a collection of short stories before, but these were outstanding. Carver's penetrating depictions of the ordinary and extraordinary struggles of married life are refreshingly honest, gritty and disturbing. He finds simple moments that are filled with subtle implications, and he has this way of just walking away and leaving unsaid the most salient element of the story, forcing the reader to adopt the anguish of the characters, and denying any cathartic release. These are powerful stories that stay with you.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    Oohhh I like Carver. Nothing happens in this short stories, they're great. This collection is very good, there are some bumps along the road but that's to be expected in a collection of 22 stories. I'll definitely be reading more Carver. Oohhh I like Carver. Nothing happens in this short stories, they're great. This collection is very good, there are some bumps along the road but that's to be expected in a collection of 22 stories. I'll definitely be reading more Carver.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    None of Carver's collections are any less than *****worthy but the stories, apparently so powerfully simple and elemental, are strangely different with each revisit. Maybe the simpler the tale the more space for the changing reader. None of Carver's collections are any less than *****worthy but the stories, apparently so powerfully simple and elemental, are strangely different with each revisit. Maybe the simpler the tale the more space for the changing reader.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ben Winch

    A recent discussion of “The Canon” here on Goodreads prompts me to write this review of a writer who, like it or not Pynchon and McElroy fans, will probably enter the canon. “Will you please be quiet, please?” The line is Hemingway’s and, though it’s quoted by Carver in the text, is repurposed as title-story by editor/mentor Gordon Lish with, I can’t help feeling, a sly nod to all those “postmodernists” intent on outdoing Joyce or Melville. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but hell, is A recent discussion of “The Canon” here on Goodreads prompts me to write this review of a writer who, like it or not Pynchon and McElroy fans, will probably enter the canon. “Will you please be quiet, please?” The line is Hemingway’s and, though it’s quoted by Carver in the text, is repurposed as title-story by editor/mentor Gordon Lish with, I can’t help feeling, a sly nod to all those “postmodernists” intent on outdoing Joyce or Melville. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but hell, isn’t it reassuring (more, inspiring – even frightening) that the son of a sawmill worker from Clatskanie Oregon, father at 18, alcoholic and blue-collar worker for most of his twenties, was able – with a few 5-10 page lucid blasts between drinks and changing nappies and stand-up fights with his wife – to grasp the imaginations of serious readers and writers across the world, despite that “short stories don’t sell”, despite the cult of Barthelme, despite a technical range that no-one could deny is limited. That maybe he was groomed for this role by Lish; that he wasn’t quite the working class hero he was meant to be; that he was both more ordinary and more sophisticated than journalists and copywriters might have liked him to be – none of that fazes me, because in his writing, despite Lish and his red pen and his sly nod and his gameplan, the imagination speaks so truly. A book is great, says Nathan “N.R.” Gaddis, if when we close the cover we think, “I’m still learning to read.” Hard as it may be for the maximalists to believe, Carver does this, with minimal surface flash, pyrotechnics or lexical contortion. To the casual eye (as to my own eye on first reading) there’s, maybe, little to take away as “proof” of authorial brilliance. (Book 2 of Carver’s story-cycle, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, being near as much Lish’s book as Carver’s, is more “chi-chi” (Carver’s descriptor), though still – if you can see past the cuteness – contains the magic.) And maybe that’s why I love Carver, because he’s pure. He’s not trying to convince you of anything. He’s no verbal athlete. He’s good with words, but uses few of them, and though he’s a stylist with his own tricks and techniques, for the most part it’s machinery of another order than linguistic that powers his unveiling aesthetic revelations. It’s true, when I first came to love Carver I was in far from the best state for reading. Distracted by day-jobs and rock music and intoxicants, for a few years I read little of anything, but more than anyone Carver brought me back around. Should I hate him for that, cos he appealed to my “dumb” self? He led me back! And I read with a new understanding of what goes on beyond words, which helped me to grasp Tabucchi, Pessoa, Soseki, Juan Rulfo, and to believe in my own writing again. Here’s the thing: You can point to style and learning and flash and justify your love for a writer. You can make literature a type of athletics. But sooner or later some Carver on crutches makes a mockery of your track-meet. Boo him off the field, but he knows: art isn’t who gets from A to B quickest, or jumps some pit or vaults some bar. Art – often as not – is what happens between all that. It’s the limp, the hiccup, the wobble. It’s some woman with a wrong number late at night asking, “Are you a doctor?” Cut it down for what it’s not – it won’t lose its power. Limited in scope as a craftsman though he may be, Raymond Carver is a “great American writer”, and special into the bargain, because in all the din of grand gestures and histrionics he had the balls/humility to make his quiet pleas.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Etter

    i do not understand why i am never sick of raymond carver. somehow, i just plow through every story, even though most of the time it's clear it's going to end up like most carver stories do - with some bloody thread hanging there untied, hinting at something really awful. but out of all of his short story collections (minus, you know, the big one of all the stories), this one is my favorite, i think. maybe it's because it opens with a fat man from the circus in a diner. that's very possibly the i do not understand why i am never sick of raymond carver. somehow, i just plow through every story, even though most of the time it's clear it's going to end up like most carver stories do - with some bloody thread hanging there untied, hinting at something really awful. but out of all of his short story collections (minus, you know, the big one of all the stories), this one is my favorite, i think. maybe it's because it opens with a fat man from the circus in a diner. that's very possibly the reason. carver shines for me in the shorter stories. favorites: "what's in alaska?", "they're not your husband" and "signals" all killed me. carver's brand of gorgeous suburban creepy sadness should get old quickly - couples don't really love each other anymore, everyone's drinking beer and trying to find something or run from something or hide something or discover something. carver has a formula for these stories, but they change often enough to keep me interested and it never seems trite. these stories might have similar skeletons, but they all have different shades of skin, different shapes of bodies, different colored hair and eyes. anyway - the big one for me here is "nobody said anything." i don't know that i've ever read a short story with a more perfect last sentence. after i read it, i sat there for about 20 minutes staring at the last sentence in hurt and wonder. it was like someone had drilled me open and installed something essential that had been missing into my chest, maybe another heart. “I lifted him out. I held him. I held the half of him.” the rest of this review is pointless. i can't do better than that sentence yet.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    Description: With this, his first collection, Carver breathed new life into the short story. In the pared-down style that has since become his hallmark, Carver showed how humour and tragedy dwell in the hearts of ordinary people, and won a readership that grew with every subsequent brilliant collection of stories, poems and essays that appeared in the last eleven years of his life. Had this onhold for so long that this visit is a complete reboot. Carver wrote as Hopper painted, maybe the connecti Description: With this, his first collection, Carver breathed new life into the short story. In the pared-down style that has since become his hallmark, Carver showed how humour and tragedy dwell in the hearts of ordinary people, and won a readership that grew with every subsequent brilliant collection of stories, poems and essays that appeared in the last eleven years of his life. Had this onhold for so long that this visit is a complete reboot. Carver wrote as Hopper painted, maybe the connection is the diner, combined with spartanism, oh and voyeurism of course. 1: Fat 2: Neighbours 3: Note 4: The Idea 5: They’re Not your Husband 6: Are you a Doctor? 7: The Father 8: Nobody Said Anything 9: Sixty Acres 10: What’s in Alaska? 11: Night School 12: Collectors 13: What do you do in San Francisco? 14: The Student’s Wife 15: Put yourself in my Shoes 16: Jerry and Molly and Sam 17: Why Honey? 18: The Ducks 19: How About This? 20: Bicycles, muscles, Cigarettes 21: Are These Actual Miles? 22: Signals 23: Will you please be quiet please? 3* What We Talk About When We Talk About Love 3* Cathedral TR Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories 3* Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maru Kun

    “He lies on his back for a time and pulls the hair on his stomach, considering.” What man has not done this? Whether part of God’s grand design or good old fashioned evolution Raymond Carver has revealed to the world the purpose of male stomach hair: an aid to male cognition. I wonder what women do? As well as being full of acute observations about male stomach hair and other aspects of human behavior these stories are full of the psychology of things unsaid or understandings not shared. As we “He lies on his back for a time and pulls the hair on his stomach, considering.” What man has not done this? Whether part of God’s grand design or good old fashioned evolution Raymond Carver has revealed to the world the purpose of male stomach hair: an aid to male cognition. I wonder what women do? As well as being full of acute observations about male stomach hair and other aspects of human behavior these stories are full of the psychology of things unsaid or understandings not shared. As well as mastering natural dialogue Carver has mastered the spaces between that dialogue, a space full of misdirection or of motivations not explained or only half understood, of powerful emotions left un-expressed. Many stories communicate a failure to communicate; characters often seem to end a story lonely but unable to quite pinpoint where this loneliness comes from – surely a common human experience and a reason why the stories are often easy to relate to. “Short Cuts” was a great film and I am sure anyone who liked these stories would enjoy the movie as well. I am embarrassed to say I only realized it was based on Raymond Carver stories after finishing this.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Numidica

    So far, I love Raymond Carver. If you like disfunctional (and sometimes functional) love / family stories, this is for you. He reminds me of Ray Bradbury in a strange way, though Bradbury was a much kindler, gentler version of Carver. Carver is more about what life is actually likely to serve you up, versus what is ideal.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rayroy

    Due back to the library today, they only have one copy and it's a big library system with many branches, I once read that Carver is one of the authers whose's books are most stolen, maybe that is why they only have one. The librarian wouldn't give the address or even a name of the person who requested it. I can't fathom why, all I would do was contact whoever it was and say to them , "You read Carver and so do I, What's your most favorite one and hey let's get coffee, cause us readers have to st Due back to the library today, they only have one copy and it's a big library system with many branches, I once read that Carver is one of the authers whose's books are most stolen, maybe that is why they only have one. The librarian wouldn't give the address or even a name of the person who requested it. I can't fathom why, all I would do was contact whoever it was and say to them , "You read Carver and so do I, What's your most favorite one and hey let's get coffee, cause us readers have to stick together because there is so few of us left, especially people who read books made of paper." 5 stars for the stories that I read before it was due to someone's hands other then mine, someone I'll never know the identity of. Why did Raymond Carver have to die so young, each book got better, just think if he was still alive. Got this book back form the library the other day, getting to the stories I didn't get to the first time. In one story a cat brings a dead mouse into a house as two couples smoke weed out of a bong, they think the cat is high!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nick Pageant

    Thanks to Maya and Sofia for the BR. This is a tricky collection of stories. All are very subtle and simple. I loved it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cbj

    This is a collection of strange and disturbing short stories with weird titles, elusive meanings and rather abrupt endings. Raymond Carver has a unique way of offering us a glimpse into the inner lives of his characters. He uses their physical actions and bursts of short conversation but very little actual description of what the character is going through. It is all about the way the stories make you feel. Most of the stories involved a random happening in the life of an individual or a couple This is a collection of strange and disturbing short stories with weird titles, elusive meanings and rather abrupt endings. Raymond Carver has a unique way of offering us a glimpse into the inner lives of his characters. He uses their physical actions and bursts of short conversation but very little actual description of what the character is going through. It is all about the way the stories make you feel. Most of the stories involved a random happening in the life of an individual or a couple and their feelings about it. Think about a short break from your work when you're standing in the corridor smoking a cigarette, wondering about things. Or a visit to the bar where you sit alone at a table drinking a beer, thinking to yourself. Or you just lay in bed on a morning and stare at the fan and let the thoughts run through your mind. Those short gaps in our busy lives when we take a moment to sit back and ponder. That's what these stories are about. The characters are mostly working class or middle class people and Carver pierces into the innards of their soul. Some of the stories are really brutal and there is a certain cruelty with which Carver describes the problems of the characters. The following stories stood out for me: "Fat" - a young woman narrates the gluttonous behavior of a fat patron at the restaurant she works, to her friend. Her boyfriend's reactions to the fat patron and how it affects her life are also part of the short story. "The Ducks" - I liked its atmospheric and erotic qualities. A man returns home after his work is cancelled. His wife tries to have sex with him. But his mind is elsewhere. "What's in Alaska?" - two couples meet up to smoke a water pipe. During their rambling conversations, the main character Jack sees his wife hugging the other man. The story had a creepy ending. "They're Not Your Husband" - A man hears two men make a lewd comment about his overweight wife who is a waitress. He then tries to make her shed weight.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    3.5 stars. Great stories with superb characterisation. I especially loved the dialogues—they were utterly brilliant! The reason why I could not give this wonderful collection a higher rating was because they were too many cliffhangers. Open-ended stories are lovely but when there are too many of them, it makes the reader feel impatient:..

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sofia

    Reading such stories about the everyday minutae of American life without the political or Hollywood hype sometimes makes me sad. It does make me compare my life which is far away from America and see what's the same and the differences. Basically though I see the universal realities, basic human needs remain the same, basic human insecurities remain the same, different culturals then jump in to add more difficulty, like different perceptions of how to live a good life, priorities etc. I like exp Reading such stories about the everyday minutae of American life without the political or Hollywood hype sometimes makes me sad. It does make me compare my life which is far away from America and see what's the same and the differences. Basically though I see the universal realities, basic human needs remain the same, basic human insecurities remain the same, different culturals then jump in to add more difficulty, like different perceptions of how to live a good life, priorities etc. I like exploring these nuances and with Carver these come in gallons. Carver says very much in a few words. His characters are unadorned, sometimes in all their sleazy glory. He gives them to us as is, no holds barred. I suspect that his worldview comes out in his characters. Some of the stories made me laugh. Others sad or afraid. Some I didn't get, maybe I come from a too different culture to get those. Still at the end I'd say I got a slice of humaness reading this book. Read with Maya and Nick 6th Feb 2016 - great talking with you about these. Discussing these with you made some of the stories more accessible to me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Hobson

    It was good to come to this book cold, knowing very little about Carver or his reputation and life story. I’m not sure why I had never read any of his stories before, but I’m glad that I have started now. Two initial impressions from the twenty-two stories in this collection. First is about period – I felt they transcended a particular period and as a result I found it hard to place them in a particular age. First published in the 1970s they could easily date back to the 1950s. It also means they It was good to come to this book cold, knowing very little about Carver or his reputation and life story. I’m not sure why I had never read any of his stories before, but I’m glad that I have started now. Two initial impressions from the twenty-two stories in this collection. First is about period – I felt they transcended a particular period and as a result I found it hard to place them in a particular age. First published in the 1970s they could easily date back to the 1950s. It also means they are now over forty years old, but don’t feel dated. The second impression which I felt very strongly was the power of not saying too much, the power in an ending left open, where things aren’t all tidied up and explained. You left some of the stories not knowing where they would reach their natural conclusion. I’d forgotten how powerful that can be. The best example is probably the title story, when Ralph finds out the whole truth about his wife’s one night of indiscretion. Will their marriage survive, can they both bear to live with the whole truth? We will never know. Brilliant. This may link to period, but I could see a number of Edward Hopper paintings as I read the stories, especially those with a lone figure looking out of a window or away from the painter. Looking into the distance, waiting for something to happen. And I love Hopper, so enjoyed the effect. I’m not going to ramble on about the stories, but simply pick out some things I loved, so I can come back and read them again and enjoy the impact. ‘Are you a Doctor?’ is one of those best lonely Hopper stories. A late night phone call to an unlisted number. A man picks up, expecting it to be his wife who is frequently away. Instead it is another woman. She is lonely and she asks him to visit. She says it is urgent. Against his better judgement he does. Nothing seems to happen on the visit. The only urgency is her loneliness and the brief connection over the phone line. If you don’t read carefully enough it would be possible to miss the one crucial line of the story: ‘Her eyes were pale green, set deep in her pale face and surrounded by what he had at first though was dark makeup. Appalled at himself, knowing he would despise himself for it, he stood and put his arms clumsily around her waist. She let herself be kissed, fluttering and closing her eyelids briefly.’ As the man hurries to leave the house, uncomfortable even being there, and you hurry to read, it would be quite possible to miss that line and that kiss. In the story “Are these actual miles?’ Toni prepares herself to go out and sell the big convertible they bought when times were better. Now facing bankruptcy, they have to sell the car for cash, or have it repossessed. ‘Toni dresses up. It’s four o’clock in the afternoon. Leo worries the lots will close. But Toni takes her time dressing. She puts on a new white blouse, wide lacy cuffs, the new two-piece suit, new heels. She transfers the stuff from her straw purse into the new patent-leather handbag. She studies the lizard makeup pouch and puts that in too. Toni has been two hours on her hair and face. Leo stands in the bedroom doorway and taps his lips with his knuckles, watching… He follows her through the house, a tall woman with a small high bust, broad hips and thighs. He scratches a pimple on his neck.’ The addition of that pimple on Leo’s neck is a master stroke. All this time talking about how Toni is dressed, the preparation to go out looking good and sell the car. The only mention Leo gets is about the pimple. Then we have some back story, back to when times were better: ‘Leo and Toni still had furniture. Leo and Toni had furniture and Toni and the kids had clothes. These things were exempt. What else? Bicycles for the kids, but these he had sent to his mother’s for safekeeping. The portable air-conditioner and the appliances, new washer and dryer, trucks came for those things weeks ago. What else did they have? This and that, nothing mainly, stuff that wore out or fell to pieces long ago. But there were some big parties back there, some fine travel. To Reno and Tahoe, at eighty with the top down and the radio playing. Food, that was one of the big items. They gorged on food. He figures thousands on luxury items alone. Toni would go to the grocery and put in everything she saw. “I had to do without when I was a kid,” she says. “These kids are not going to do without,” as if he’d been insisting they should. She joins all the book clubs. “We never had books around when I was a kid,” she says as she tears open the heavy packages. They enroll in the record clubs for something to play on the new stereo. They sign up for it all. Even a pedigree terrier named Ginger. He paid two hundred and found her run over in the street a week later. They buy what they want. If they can’t pay, they charge. They sign up.’ So there it is. All the back story you need, the lavish life, the waste, and now the poverty, needing the six hundred they might get for the car, going to court on Monday. And one final quote from ‘Will you please be quiet, please?’ the title story. The story of Ralph and Marian. Their college days, their love, success and their marriage. And in the story of their honeymoon in Mexico, a small hint of disquiet. My favourite piece of description: ‘…Ralph was secretly appalled by the squalor and the open lust he saw and was anxious to return to the safety of California. But one vision we would always remember and which disturbed him most of all had nothing to do with Mexico. It was late afternoon, almost evening, and Marian was leaning motionless on her arms on the ironwork balustrade if their rented casita as Ralph came up the dusty road below. Her hair was long and hung down in front over her shoulders, and she was looking away from him, staring at something in the distance. She wore a white blouse with a bright red scarf at her throat, and he could see her breasts pushing against the white cloth. He had a bottle of dark, unlabeled wine under his arm, and the whole incident put Ralph in mind of something from a film, an intensely dramatic moment into which Marian could be fitted but he could not.’ Love that hint of disquiet, foreshadowing something to come. There will be more Carver for me.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vipassana

    Some of the stories deserve a hundred stars... and applause, and fireworks, and a little dread.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vishal

    This collection was my introduction to Raymond Carver, a writer who I’ve been eager to read for a long time since I found out he was writing buddy to one of my favourites of all time, John Cheever. The Stories of John Cheever is a prized possession in my bookcase. They are a revelation to me; despite their brevity, the poetic force and lyricism is sometimes more than I can find in a single novel. But enough about Cheever. Carver is quite a different proposition. To begin with, he mainly focuses This collection was my introduction to Raymond Carver, a writer who I’ve been eager to read for a long time since I found out he was writing buddy to one of my favourites of all time, John Cheever. The Stories of John Cheever is a prized possession in my bookcase. They are a revelation to me; despite their brevity, the poetic force and lyricism is sometimes more than I can find in a single novel. But enough about Cheever. Carver is quite a different proposition. To begin with, he mainly focuses on a different class of people; Cheever’s characters are the (seemingly) comfy have-it-all, suburban-residing, cocktail-drinking, upper-middle class, set, while Carver deals with the struggling mid-to-lower class weighed down not only by their own personal demons but by economic necessity. Further, Carver’s prose is straightforward, spare, free of fireworks but subtly explosive all the same. His stories are minimalist slow-burners, full of seemingly superfluous details that nevertheless reward the sensitive reader once they sink in. Some of the standouts for me in this collection were: Neighbours: A couple facing their own mediocrity try to live their lives vicariously through the more ‘glamorous’ couple across the hall. The Student’s Wife: Despite leading a seemingly content life with her husband and children, insomnia and depression begin to dawn upon a woman. Jerry and Molly and Sam: A man regrets abandoning his children’s dog, but realizes that some things cannot be undone. Why, Honey? A woman faces every mother’s nightmare: seeing the immaculate image of her son crumble in front of her eyes, until she even begins to fear for her safety. What Is It? A gut-tightening, unnerving look at the strangulating effect that the death of the American Dream has on a couple. And finally, the title story: A man discovers the liberation that comes from forgiving. The closing lines of this one are perhaps the finest I’ve read in a short story. I will admit that it took me a while to get into this book, but the irony is that once I did, the pages were rapidly running out. When I reached the end, I was left wanting more, wanting to read everything that Carver has written and inhabit again the worlds that he creates which - although they are so raw, and at times so bleak - are yet so uncompromisingly real and therefore make me feel alive, and gives me refuge to the deep and obscure thoughts within me that I feared would never find validation, until now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Portal in the Pages

    Perfectly lovely stories, just not my thing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I buddy read this with Richard Reads based on his recommendation and I have to say, buddy reading short stories might be my new favorite. It was interesting to see how differently (and similarly!) we interpreted stories. This was a great collection reflecting lower class/working class families and the struggles they face. There were some about the tension in relationships based around work, money, and boredom. There were some about how families interact and how neighborhoods function in the work I buddy read this with Richard Reads based on his recommendation and I have to say, buddy reading short stories might be my new favorite. It was interesting to see how differently (and similarly!) we interpreted stories. This was a great collection reflecting lower class/working class families and the struggles they face. There were some about the tension in relationships based around work, money, and boredom. There were some about how families interact and how neighborhoods function in the working classes. I was able to see myself and some of my experiences in these stories, and especially things people in my town have faced. The stories felt genuine and real. My only faults with this is that at times they were a little too detailed with insignificant things at times, and a lot of them would take a confusing turn that didn't seem to fit the story to me. This could be changed on further analysis by me, but as an enjoyable reading experience it was just confusing. Some of these stories felt like they had little meaning too and had repeating themes, so they were tiresome in a collection.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brendan Monroe

    I've been on a real kick lately of reading books about nothing. It is so much more impressive for a writer to draw you in using nothing more than words than it is for them to spin a magnificently plotted yarn. Or at least I think so (see: Norwegian writer - and current obsession - Karl Ove Knausgaard). But Carver's short stories only SEEM to be about nothing, or at least, they did to me on my first reading. I started this collection two months ago now, thinking that I'd be able to bulldoze my way I've been on a real kick lately of reading books about nothing. It is so much more impressive for a writer to draw you in using nothing more than words than it is for them to spin a magnificently plotted yarn. Or at least I think so (see: Norwegian writer - and current obsession - Karl Ove Knausgaard). But Carver's short stories only SEEM to be about nothing, or at least, they did to me on my first reading. I started this collection two months ago now, thinking that I'd be able to bulldoze my way through its 181 pages by Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving came and went. Christmas came and went. January came and is nearly gone and I have only, just now, finished this. Why? I don't know. I could have pushed myself to get through these stories faster, but I felt I needed to take a break after each one. I've never read a book that has mentally exerted me to the degree that some of these short stories did. It frustrated me that I would sometimes read a story, the first story in this collection, "Fat", being an excellent example of this, and not really be able to figure out what was going on beyond whatever is happening on the surface. Because there's obviously a whole other level of shit going on. It won't take you long to figure out that Raymond Carver went to the Ernest Hemingway school of minimalist writing. Hemingway's "Iceberg Theory" (also known as the "theory of omission", by which 80-90% of the story lies, like an iceberg, below the surface) is in full effect here. I am not really a fan of this style of writing. I find it, as stated above, exhausting to read. Even a seemingly simple 4-page story like "Fat" has so much going on that it forces you to read it again. And again. And again. All in an effort to figure out what the hell is actually happening. Every word is important and presumably necessary in conveying the information. I read every story in this collection at least twice. Those that are - at least, I think - genuinely straightforward in their telling, like "Sixty Acres" I read again because I couldn't believe they could be that simple. So no, I like to read not as much because of the story, but because of the words and the pages formed from those words. I like to sit and read until waves of words just carry me away. I would contrast Carver's short stories in this way with those of, say, Stefan Zweig. Two radically different styles, but Zweig's leave me feeling ... better. Happier. Even when they're not happy. For the record, Carver's stories are not happy. On the contrary, they are about as depressing as depressing can be. Even when they're not really that depressing, you still want to pop a Xanax because the places Carver takes you to are not nice places. There is something quintessentially American about Carver's stories. He had to be American to write the way he did, and he had to have experienced poverty, as he did. The stories in "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?" are very, very working class and take place in trailer parks, small-town diners, and various squalid environments. The only story that takes place somewhere "nice" is "Signals", the next to last in the collection, which takes place in an "elegant new restaurant". It's interesting to note that this location plays a central role in the story as it serves to highlight the differences between the couple dining there. Wayne, the main character, hates it and feels completely out of place, while Caroline loves it and tells Aldo, the French-speaking proprietor, that she'll be back - on her own. A lot of these stories seem to be focused on moments when years of conflict or ignored behavior finally come to a boiling point. Jealousy is a frequent topic, as is voyeurism, the desire to become someone else, and paralyzation - characters who are stuck in a situation they seemingly can't get out of. Nobody is really happy here, the reader included, but the moments Carver chooses to highlight are fascinating ones. Perhaps a better title would have been "Working Class Americans on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown". But that would have been far too many words for Carver. The stories that stuck with me most after reading were: 1. Fat 2. Neighbors 3. The Idea 4. They're Not Your Husband 5. Are You a Doctor? 6. Collectors 7. Jerry and Molly and Sam 8. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? Absolutely worth reading if only because it really is so different stylistically. And most end with bizarre final lines that just add to the general sense of confusion about what the hell is actually going on (see: How About This?). Let's just say that if I had to choose a fiction writer to perform emergency surgery on me, I'd probably give the scalpel to Carver. The guy was certainly precise - and had experience cutting!

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