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Great Work of Tension,
This review is from: Where I'm Calling From: Selected Stories (Paperback)
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.
Because mostly, after reading these stories, I always found myself wondering, what is the point of this? What was he trying to say here? And the fact is, he really wasn't trying to say something clever. Where Carver excels is at creating tension out of a simple day to day event.
Who cares about two kids fighting over who caught the fish? There really isn't anything profound about that. Yet you expect something to happen as you read the story. And then it doesn't, it is just resolved like any normal people would. But in the process of finding out, you have been led to believe that something deep and meaningful is going to happen.
Why would a man and his wife keep live turkeys in the living room when they have dinner guests? Again, nothing happens. People have dinner and carry on with their day to day lives. But wasn't that really odd? Or what about the men that go fishing and find a dead body and decide to stay fishing and dealy calling the police until their trip is over? Isn't that odd? Yet we never find out why they behaved as such.
It is just the tension of the narration that creates in the reader an expectation of "something" that never really happens. That is, in my opinion, the strength and beauty of these selection of stories and what made Carver a master alongside the likes of Chekhov.