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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 2 January 2011
As most readers who are interested in Raymond Carver will know, 'Beginners' is essentially the collection of short stories that were published under the title 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' - but published here in their 'original' versions, i.e before his editor, Gordon Liss, got to work on them. This is a fascinating companion piece to that better known collection. Carver is well known for his minimalist style - spare, elliptical and very finely wrought. For anyone interested in the processes of writing, rewriting and editing, looking at examples from the two collections alongside each other is very revealing; but 'Beginners' is far more than an academic exercise. In these more extended, 'original' versions, the stories are rich and insightful; well worth reading, even if you have never encountered Carver before. Very highly recommended.
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on 8 January 2016
Excellent thanks
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on 28 December 2016
good condition. Also, for other Carver's lover this is a must buy book. It's interesting to compare both versions.
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on 23 February 2012
Good book for studying short stories and general reading purposes - recommended to anyone - try it and see especially not dear.....
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on 19 October 2010
I, like most people coming to Carver late, had heard about him before reading him, so that his reputation cast a big shadow over his work. I read "What we talk about...", "Will you please be quiet please", and "Short Cuts", and while some stories pleased me, I couldn't quite see what the fuss was about. The style was nice, the writing sharp and striking, but the plots were non-existent. The stories were little more than snapshots, and left you feeling they were nice as far as they went but didn't really go anywhere. There were occasional exceptions, but overall, I was left slightly disappointed. when i read that lish had cut so much out of his stories, and that originally they offered much more story, then i got interested. As I have said, i enjoyed the style, so I thought that maybe, this new collection might be more up my street.

Well it was. This is one of the finest collections of short stories I have ever read. I love punchy short stories, about people in the modern world, tales of urban fiction, if you will - stories I can identify with: people feeling a bit lost and insecure, who drink too much, who don't really know what they're meant to be doing, but kind of just muddle through and try and make sense of it all. I love stories by Bukowski, by Richard Yates, by Hemingway. These are at least on a par with those. If you like that sort of thing, you'll love this.

I'm fully aware of Carver's reputation that he carved (arf!) with Lish's help. Some people have even said this book shows how great Lish was, and how, left alone, Carver waffles on and loses his cutting edge. Well, I have read with and without, and I couldn't disagree more. This is short story writing at its finest, and I will be tracking down everything else of his that I can find. In particular, "Why Don't You Dance" is amazing (one of the ones I loved in the original actually, as it is one of the less heavily edited ones).

This comes as fully recommended as I can recommend anything.
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on 20 July 2012
This book, the original, unedited versions of the short stories found in Carver's best known work - What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, is not just for die hard Carver fans with a little extra space on their bookshelves. It makes an interesting companion to the published, edited version, but is also very readable in its own right.

I'm obsessed with Raymond Carver. I think he is probably the greatest post war short story writer to come out of America and is up there with John Cheever amongst the best of all time. Still, I know how much Gordon Lish had to do with creating that razor sharp, minimal and impacting style that Carver is best known for. This book lets you see behind that editorial curtain and see a different side to those famous stories.

Some of the editing is justified, it has to be said. The edited versions of 'So Much Water...' and 'The Calm' I think are better, more effective. In fact, most of these stories are 'better' in the edited version because GL was such a good editor. Compare the books. Look at the detail, the punctuation, the exchange of words, the cuts that GL made. He had a vision that complemented Carver's work perfectly. That's not to say that these stories come second best or that Carver was in some way a fraud. They give a real insight into Carver the writer, instead of Carver the published author. Budding writers trying to emulate Carver's style will do well to read this and understand that editing and rewriting is as important as the first draft itself.

Buy it without hesitation.
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on 3 May 2010
Raymond Carver has become something of a vogue among short-story wannabees. He has assumed iconic status for his down to earth, spare writing style, dealing with unremarkable and every-day people in remarkable situations. This compilation is of the stories he wrote before they were edited and published in his flagship volume, What we talk about when we Talk about Love. These original versions make excellent reading, although little was lost through their subsequent editing by Gordon Liss for Alfred Knopff & Co, Carver's first major publisher. This collection confirms Carver as possibly the outstanding short story writer of his generation. His untimely death at fifty (a year older than Kerouac), leaves one in mourning for what might have been had his writing continued to mature and develop.
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