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Where I'm Calling From: Selected Stories [Paperback]

Raymond Carver
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Nov 1993

Shortly before he died, America's laureate of the dispossessed made his own choice of his short stories, revised the texts and published them in this authorative edition. The stories in Where I'm Calling from are selected from the full range of the author's work including Furious Seasons, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, What We Talk about When We Talk about Love, and Cathedral and include all seven stories from his last collection, Elephant.

Where I'm Calling from, with the author's original introduction, is the essential Raymond Carver story collection.


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Where I'm Calling From: Selected Stories + The Collected Stories of Lorrie Moore + The Granta Book of the American Short Story: v. 2
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Press; New Ed edition (1 Nov 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860460399
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860460395
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.4 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,354 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

From the Back Cover

"The American Chekhov." Sunday Times

Shortly before he died, America's laureate of the dispossessed made his own choice of his short stories, revised the texts and published them in this authorative edition. The stories in Where I'm Calling from are selected from the full range of the author's work including Furious Seasons, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, What We Talk about When We Talk about Love, and Cathedral and include all seven stories from his last collection, Elephant.

Where I'm Calling from, with the author's original introduction, is the essential Raymond Carver story collection.

"The master craftsman of the modern American short story." Daily Telegraph

"If you haven't read on Raymond Carver's books yet, go out immediately and buy one." Australian

"The master of the contemporary American Story." New Musical Express

"We are talking greatness." Melody Maker

"Superb." Ian McEwan

"One of America's most original, truest voices...Raymond Carver was a great writer...Read everything Carver wrote." Salman Rushdie

About the Author

Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon in, 1938 and grew up in Yakima, Washington State. His father was a saw-mill worker and his mother was a waitress and clerk. He married early and for years writing had to come second to earning a living for his young family, although he did manage to attend John Gardner's creative writing course at Chico State College. During this period he worked as a hospital porter, a textbook editor, a dictionary salesman, a petrol station attendant and a deliveryman. These experiences and his own increasingly desperate domestic circumstances were frequently the subject of his poetry and fiction. Although he published a number of small-press books of poetry and one chapbook of fiction in the 1960s and early 1970s, it was not until the appearance of Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? in 1976 that his work began to reach a wider audience,. The following year his luck began to change: he gave up alcohol, which had contributed to the collapse of his marriage, and in the same year met the poet Tess Gallagher with whom he shared the last eleven years of his life. He began to write again and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1979 and the prestigous Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award in 1983. During this prolific period he wrote three collections of stories ( What We Talk about When We Talk About Love, Cathedral and the new stories - published in Britain under the title Elephant - in the present volume), three collections of poetry ( Where Water Comes together with other Water and Ultramarine - a selection of which appeared in Britain as In a Marine Light: Selected Poems - and a New Path to the Waterfall), and a collection of stories, essays and poems (Fires). In the last year of his life he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died on 2 August 1988. His uncollected writings, No Heroics, Please, were published in 1991, and his uncollected poems, All Of Us in 1996.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best collection of short stories 29 Mar 2006
Format:Paperback
The is the first I have read of Raymond Carver's and I picked it up to read on holiday as I thought short stories would be better to dip in and out of plus, I have only ever heard good things about Carver and had always meant to get round to reading some of his work. This is a collection of his short stories, previously published in seperate collections. He says in the introduction, written shortly before he died, that these stories are put together in the order that he felt suited. He also says in the intro that he "loves the swift leap of a good story, the ecitement that often commences int he first sentence, the sense of beauty and mystery found in the best of them...that the story can be written and read in one sitting" - that really summed up for me how important short stories can be and also why I am dismayed how they are overlooked by alot of the reading public. From this quote I was sure that I was in for a treat.
The themes covered in these stories are love, loss, marriage, betrayal, beer and fishing. He really does write the miniutae of life beautifully and finds the extraordinary in the ordinary. Some of the stories don't really have a sense of closure but they are so beautiful and haunting that it doesn't matter. One story about a boy who is knocked down by a hit and run driver actually had me in tears and I had to put it down for a while before reading on.
I would recommend this book to anyone who appreciates good writing and feels like getting lost for a while. I think I can honestly say that I have never read a better short story collection and will definitely be looking out for more of his work. These stories are really a benchmark for short story writing and hope that some of you give it a go.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carver is the Yoda of suburbia. 22 Feb 2004
Format:Paperback
It is possibly the hardest and best thing that a writer can do to find the very big in the very small but Carver made a career out of doing just that and this is a definitive collection of his efforts. His characters are simply everyday people doing everyday things but their lives pivot on events that illuminate the greater truths in operation all around us. There is often a sense in these shorts that we are looking through windows or into back-gardens, that we are eavesdropping on our suburban neighbours. The lives of others will always be essentially unknowable to us but Carver gives some consolation that they feel the same hurts, struggle through the same frustrations, and have the same moments of intimation of sad and senseless mortality that we all do. Stories like “Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes”, written in a sparse muscular prose style, read almost like modern-day parables, like snapshots of the unexpected moments in life. Later pieces, like “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love”, have that rare quality to make you feel more like you are listening to a story being told than that you are actually reading at all. This collection ultimately becomes far more than the sum of its parts and it will live out a long and well-thumbed life in your library.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tension and melancholy. 25 July 2004
By deadbeat VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
"I love the swift leap of a good story, the excitement that often commences in the first sentence, the sense of beauty and mystery found in the best of them; and the fact - so crucially important to me back at the beginning and now still a consideration - that the story can be written and read in one sitting." (from foreword in Where I'm Calling From, 1998)
Raymond Carver's short fiction is often placed in the realistic tradition of Stephen Crane and Ernest Hemingway. Also, given the often muted, anticlimactic atmosphere of the prose there is a tension which is reminiscent of either Franz Kafka or Harold Pinter.
A motif within Carver's works is the issue of love, or, more precisely, the issue of love and its absence, and the bearing of love's absence on marriage and individual identity. He depicts the quiet desperation of white-and-blue-collar workers, salesmen and waitresses, and their sense of betrayal at being unable to express themselves. Things are frequently left unspoken and conflicts unresolved, and the meaning of the story is often only revealed through implications. In particular, his portrayals of marriage problems are full of emotional tension, hidden memories, wounds, longing, hate, anxiety, and melancholy.
"It is possible to write a line of seemingly innocuous dialogue and have it send a chill along the reader's spine - the source of artistic delight, as Nabokov would have it. That's the kind of writing that most interests me." (Carver in The New York Times, February 15, 1981)
This particular collection, Where I'm Calling From, published posthumously, contains a good selection, containing stories from Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? Cathedral and all seven stories from Elephant. Though, having said that, a better introduction to his stories would probably just be a copy of Cathedral. That way you wont have to buy any repeats.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Photo stories 18 May 2008
By John
Format:Paperback
Have you ever had one of those Blair moments when after weeks of being nice to everyone you have to finally make a decision which means that enemies are made as they see a must have dismissed? Well this is one of those moments. I have been struggling with Raymond Carver's "Where I'm Calling From" a collection of thirty-seven stories chosen from several previous collections published over 20 odd years which should therefore be an ideal introduction to his work. And... wait for it... I am going to abandon it unfinished half way despite him being seen As "the American Chekhov or the laureate of the dispossessed"

Let me say up front, that his prose, ear for dialogue and depiction of the ordinariness of every day life masking unexpressed pain and joy is the best. His stories are like photos that capture the moment frozen with no past or future with all the ambiguity that the unknown allows the reader/observer. The opposite of Norman Rockwell homeliness, more akin to the photos of Walker Evans of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. But they have no plot, twists, surprises, or surface complexity of character. These are often blue collar workers in small-town or rural settings struggling with jobs, partners, children and booze and it's the unsaid that reveals more then the fractured words.

The stories reflect his own drink problems and failed jobs and marriage in his 20s so he turned to writing to escape and short stories could get something in quickly to pay the rent and get food on the table. His life did begin to turn around and his work started to get critical alarm in his 40's before he died of lung cancer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars CARVER'S CUTS:
A gruelling but rewarding read.

Tales reflect blue collar suburban lifestyle of America. Sharp on dialogue but short on narrative. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Mister Partialyst
4.0 out of 5 stars Great
This is the first time that I have read Carver and I am both impressed by the themes and content of his stories as well as the spare style in which they are written.
Published 5 months ago by Sheree B
5.0 out of 5 stars Raymond Carver
What can I say about the master short story writer that has not already been said? I suppose I have to keep this individual. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Eli
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality literature with haunting short stories
Precise language and haunting stories - sometimes challenging, but always thought-provoking to read. Read more
Published 14 months ago by A bookworm
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Carver is a master. Stories which are quirky and easy to read. I would say easy enough to read before you go to
bed but you might have morbid dreams of unemployment, lost... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Msfeelesopher
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book Ever?
I think this is possibly the best book I have ever read and I'm not a great fan of short stories. Carver grabs you with despair and all the the small disappointments of life and... Read more
Published 23 months ago by buster
4.0 out of 5 stars as expected
Dry, essential, absorbing. Carver's prose is made of carefully selected rough materials: nothing redundant, only the number of words necessary to catch the reader's attention, kick... Read more
Published on 26 Sep 2011 by antonio fancellu
5.0 out of 5 stars God is in the detail
This is a great collection of Carver's work. It shows how his themes developed through his working life from stressful marriage, through alcoholism, to self-acceptance. Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2011 by Sophie Cooke
4.0 out of 5 stars A cracking collection
Where I'm Calling From is a collection of Raymond Carver's short stories, and is a must for anyone who is interested in either short fiction, or just good writing of any length. Read more
Published on 15 April 2011 by Jimbo
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Work of Tension
I don't know much about Carver as the master narrator of modern America.

I don't even know about whether he is a great portrayer of the human condition. Read more
Published on 29 April 2010 by J. M. Salinas
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