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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 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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on 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. He is not a spoon-feeder, rather he is like a Haiku poet, he strips everything down to the bare minimum and what is not said, but what is inferred is the point, that is what is most important. And that is his real strength and the expression of his pure genius. Anyone can babble on and on and on for pages, or tell as story like a drunk in a bar, very few can whittle an entire tree down to one single clothes-peg, Carver can, and did.
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on 27 January 2012
The stories are crisp, sharp and focused and written in a very minimalist style. But they are harsh. While the title uses the word "love" each of the stories has a cold hard reality about it which is far from loving, and an infinite distance from romance. Representing the short story equivalent of Tom Waites, its an easy 5 stars, but don't expect too many smiles.
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on 28 August 2011
This book is a great example of the short story genre. Each story opens a little window on lives either troubled or trying to smother the echoes of the past. The stories provoke more questions than they give answers. The reader is left uneasy. I loved it. I can see how others might find it disturbing. But if you are open to the short story genre, these are classics.
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on 21 November 2010
This was the first collection I read by Carver. I was very glad I did. He is a master of the short story and a very evocative writer. The short story is so hard to get right - but needless to say he says so much in a short time.
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on 16 February 2010
This is one of the greatest collections of short stories ever written - Carver was a master storyteller, with not a word wasted
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on 17 April 2011
This book of short stories was recommended to me as a good example of minimalism. The stories are short and sharp as might be expected when considering that Raymond Carver is a writer known for his succinct text. I enjoyed the stories even though they are miserable and gloomy. The book has ecouraged me to read more about Carver himself.
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on 11 April 2011
That's all that needs to be said. I actually read some of his poetry recently and found it to be far more engaging than his short stories. Just not my style.
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on 21 August 2014
I had high hopes for this book since everyone told me Carver is one of the best short-story authors and I was a little bit disappointed, to be honest. The style is nice and refreshing but the stories left me feeling quite indifferent.
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on 4 March 2011
I loved some stories but found others average - the title story is definitely the strongest. For me, the prose is too pared down, and often reads like a schoolboy exercise. I know some people love this style, but it's not for me.
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