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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love [Paperback]

Raymond Carver
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (Vintage Classics) What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (Vintage Classics) 4.4 out of 5 stars (11)
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Book Description

3 July 2003
This powerful collection of stories, set in the mid-West among the lonely men and women who drink, fish and play cards to ease the passing of time, was the first by Raymond Carver to be published in the UK. With its spare, colloquial narration and razor-sharp sense of how people really communicate, the collection was to become one of the most influential literary works of the 1980s.

Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (3 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099449846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099449843
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, in 1938. His first short stories appeared in Esquire during Gordon Lish's tenure as fiction editor in the 1970s. Carver's work began to reach a wider audience with the 1976 publication of Will You Please be Quiet, Please, but it was not until the 1981 publication of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love under Gordon Lish, then at Knopf, that he began to achieve real literary fame.

This collection was edited by more than 40 per cent before publication, and Carver dedicated it to his fellow writer and future wife, Tess Gallagher, with the promise that he would one day republish his stories at full length.

He went on to write two more collections of stories, Cathedral and Elephant, which moved away from the earlier minimalist style into a new expansiveness, as well as several collections of poetry. He died in 1988, aged fifty.

Product Description


'One of America's most original, truest voices' Salman Rushdie

Book Description

'One of America's most original, truest voices' Salman Rushdie

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haiku prose 11 May 2009
Again, I might well be arriving late to the party, and maybe the food might all be gone, but I still feel it worth attending and seeing if I can't find something to munch on.
I found Carver via Murakami's 'Birthday Stories', where, having been impressed by 'The Bath', I decided to dig further and seek other works. Now, having read 'What we talk about...' I can only say three things;
i) Brilliant! Carver is a literary genius who occupies rare ground,
ii) Original. He re-wrote the short-story, he invented, re-invented the short-story,
iii) More! I want more! I want to read every word he wrote, I am thirsty for his world vision.
Carver's style, his vision, his world-view optimises what makes American literature great, and what is great American literature. After reading this I was reminded just how good modern American literature really is - there is not a country on this planet who has a definite modern style as beautiful, clean and expressive as America. People often say that Jazz is the only true American Art, but I disagree! To that I would also add the short-story! America has a rich and unchallenged history in the short story and it must surely be at least partly attributable to the likes of Raymond Carver.

Many readers have commented that 'nothing happens'... NOTHING HAPPENS? Things happen, lots happens, it's just, like life, things happen quickly - who could forget the three page masterpiece 'Popular Mechanics'? Where Carver's real genius lies is that he really is a master storyteller, that is to say he paints a sparse picture and challenges the reader to fill in the blanks, to use THEIR imagination to join the dots.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic 31 July 2005
Short stories are one of my favourite forms, and Carver is masterful. His sparse prose reminds me of Hemingway, and his characters - all struggling with their own small-town psychoses - hit you directly from the page. I'm not the biggest fan of American literature, to be honest, but embarked on my first experience of Carver after recommendations from a friend (who is a huge fan). Carver's stories wheedle their way into your consciousness. His portraits of everyday yet remarkable people are sharp and linger long after the few pages devoted to each tale. There's still something cerebral rather than emotional about the stories, but this alienation is part of the package. If you want to see beautiful craftsmanship and feel in the mood to take the wry, sometimes deeply sad, stories of failed promise or everday accident, then Carver is a rewarding experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hardbitten realism 23 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderfully sparse prose from a master storyteller. Gritty, realistic and earthy stories that really capture a slice of life.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would not have bought this as a casual purchase. Its a weird book and Carver's writing style is an acquired taste.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Suicide Notes: Carver versus Cheever 8 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
About 15 years ago I read a collection of short stories by John Cheever and enjoyed them very much although some of the topics were rather gloomy. I confused Raymond Carver with him (probably because of the similar sounding surnames) and so when I picked up this book was looking forward to a return to familiar territory - tales of drunks living in New York in the 50s and their marital problems.

In fact what I got was a series of vignettes of drunks living in the Midwest in the 60s and 70s and their marital problems. I realized immediately I had got my lines crossed by the difference in length, with Carver squeezing 17 stories into a mere 130 pages compared with Cheever's more leisurely style. Cheever's stories are also almost cheerful in comparison.

Carver's stories are bleak and so near the bone that there is virtually no room for characterization or story - just a slice of confused, hopeless lives presented as clinically as the results of a laboratory test for a serious illness.

These stories proved too intense for me and are recommended only for those who like their spirits neat and served in double or triple doses.
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