What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Raymond Carver

I’ve somehow managed to never read an entire collection of Raymond Carver’s short stories, despite being somewhat of an enthusiast of the form and having read a few of his stories in passing. This one caught my eye at the library, as I’d guess Murakami played off this title with his recent memoir. It turns out the title story is the one The New Yorker published a draft called “Beginners” last year — the version in this collection was heavily edited by Gordon Lish (the story behind the changes). This collection also includes “So Much Water So Close to Home,” which the film Jindabyne was adapted from, so it was kind of the ideal collection to pick up randomly.

I love how some of Carver’s stories are spare sketches yet manage to impart depth and nuance. His characters tend to have a similar qualities of weathered strength blended with a subtle pathos. In some ways the common threads make Carver’s reach feel limited, but it’s hard not to be drawn into the precise honesty of his work.