This book, the original, unedited versions of the short stories found in Carver's best known work - What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, is not just for die hard Carver fans with a little extra space on their bookshelves. It makes an interesting companion to the published, edited version, but is also very readable in its own right.
I'm obsessed with Raymond Carver. I think he is probably the greatest post war short story writer to come out of America and is up there with John Cheever amongst the best of all time. Still, I know how much Gordon Lish had to do with creating that razor sharp, minimal and impacting style that Carver is best known for. This book lets you see behind that editorial curtain and see a different side to those famous stories.
Some of the editing is justified, it has to be said. The edited versions of 'So Much Water...' and 'The Calm' I think are better, more effective. In fact, most of these stories are 'better' in the edited version because GL was such a good editor. Compare the books. Look at the detail, the punctuation, the exchange of words, the cuts that GL made. He had a vision that complemented Carver's work perfectly. That's not to say that these stories come second best or that Carver was in some way a fraud. They give a real insight into Carver the writer, instead of Carver the published author. Budding writers trying to emulate Carver's style will do well to read this and understand that editing and rewriting is as important as the first draft itself.
Buy it without hesitation.