Because this contains essays it could also be 'non-fiction' but let's put it here nevertheless because the majority of the work in the book is either poetry or short stories. I have some of Carver's other collections What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
and these two collections defined and altered my understanding of what constitutes a short story, an unsurprising revelation considering the effect that critics believe Carver's writing has had on subsequent writers.
Anyway, Fires brings together a diverse set of works, some of which appear in the collections I already own, others, the essays particularly, that I had not seen before appear in his Carver: collected
and selected work
. I appreciated the essays particularly as they revealed a side of Carver's writing that I had not encountered before, a part of him that shows his appreciation for his family and one of his mentors, John Gardner. Carver cannot display this appreciation in his short stories and poetry, but seeing an honest personal evaluation of his writing and to those he owes his debts was fantastic. I found his discussion of influences particularly apt - he differentiates between those writers, musicians and other artists whose work appeals to us and whose work and thinking we try to incorporate into our own, from the physical and emotional influences that affect us more than anything else, in Carver's case an early marriage and having children when he was a teenager. Please read the essay because my summary does not do his ideas justice.
If you have not encountered Carver before, either his prose, poetry or essays, then this is a good place to start to begin a relationship with a great writer.