Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon and grew up in Yakima, Washington, where his family moved to when he was 3 years old. After graduating from high school, he worked alongside his father in a sawmill in California.
Domestic abuse and infidelity also played a role in their divorce. Carver has admitted that he was physically abusive during his “first life”
These are 3 of the collections of Carver’s stories that were published before his death.
The story begins with the mother, Ann, going to a bakery and ordering a cake for her son Scotty’s upcoming birthday. On the same day, Scotty is hit by a car while walking to school with his friend. He survives the incident and walks home. He later goes to the hospital when it becomes clear that his condition is serious. Scotty remains in the hospital where he suddenly dies unexpectedly. His parents are told it was a one-in-a-million circumstance that nobody could have thought to check for. The story concludes with the couple going to the bakery late that night He insists that they sit and brings them baked goods- he tells them that “eating is a small, good thing in a time like this.”
The story is narrated in first person has an unnamed narrator and is a frame narrative, known as a story within a story.
It is told from the perspective of a man sitting in a barber’s shop.
The story is about a man, contemplating how to move forward with his life.
Bill Buford of the literary magazine, Granta, states that “Dirty Realism is the fiction of a new generation of American authors. They write about the belly-side of contemporary life – a deserted husband, an unwed mother, a car thief, a pickpocket, a drug addict – but they write about it with a disturbing detachment, at times verging on comedy. Understated, ironic, sometimes savage, but insistently compassionate, these stories constitute a new voice in fiction”.
On themodernnovel.com, it is stated that “Sometimes considered a variety of literary minimalism, dirty realism is characterized by an economy with words and a focus on surface description. Writers working within the genre tend to avoid adverbs, extended metaphor and internal monologue, instead allowing objects and context to dictate meaning. Characters are shown in ordinary, unremarkable occupations, and often a lack of resources and money that creates an internal desperation.
These are just a few of Carver’s published collections as well as well as a quote from his collection Ultra~Marine. It reads:
There isn’t enough of
as long as we live. But at
a sweetness appears and,
given a chance prevails.
In 1977, Carver met Tess Gallagher, five years prior to divorcing his first wife. Gallagher was and still is a poet. The two met at a writers conference in Dallas, Texas. They started dating in the fall of 1978 and lived together beginning in 1979 in El Paso, Texas. They also resided in Port Angeles, Washington and Tucson, Arizona. The following year they moved to Syracuse, New York where Carver worked in the creative writing program at Syracuse University as an English professor.
Carver and Gallagher moved around quite a bit in their first years together, most of which was due to the teaching jobs Carver had in various locations.
It wasn’t until 1982 that Carver and his first wife, Maryanne Burke, were divorced. He and Gallagher then wed in 1988 in Reno, Nevada. He died just 6 weeks later.
There are 5 films that are adaptations based on the work of Raymond Carver. The is also an independent Australian film written by Carver himself, titled, “Feathers.” The other 5 films were all released after his death.
“Feathers” (1987) – independent film written by Raymond Carver
“Shortcuts” (1993) – starring Andie MacDowell, Julianne Moore & Tim Robbins – inspired by 9 of Carver’s short stories.
“Everything Goes” (2004) – starring Hugo Weaving, Abbie Cornish & Sullivan Stapleton – based on “Why Don’t You Dance?”
“Jindabyne” (2006) – starring Laurel Linney, Gabriel Byrne & John Howard – adapted from “So Much Water, So Close to Home”
“Everything Must Go” (2010) – starring Will Ferrell – based on “Why Don’t You Dance?”
“Want to See Something?” (2010/2011) – starring Tobias Aspelin, Phillip Brock & Ebba Hellberg
Carver’s final wishes were expressed in his will and stated that his widowed wife, Tess Gallagher, was to become the administrator of his literary estate.
Theme – Identity: Narrator’s wife-she moved about with 1st husband, never in one place long. Not happy with herself or marriage led to attempted suicide. Narrator is insecure with wife’s male friend coming to stay with them. Shows that he is not confident in his masculinity/identity as a strong man.
Theme – Moving On: Robert’s wife passed away. He had to move on from the tragedy of her passing. Narrators wife was previously married. She moved on with her relationship with previous husband. She is still attached to Robert.
The story was inspired by Carver’s wife Tess who had a male friend/coworker who was blind.
Original title of the story is “Host”.
The story also has an unnamed narrator.
Themes: There is conflict between the mother and Scotty’s doctor. The doctor originally informs the parents that Scotty will be okay. When he dies and the doctor realizes the unforeseen condition that Scotty had, the mother is angry while the doctor is apologetic. Identity is seem mostly after Scotty’s death. His parents have to accept that there lives have changed forever and find a new way to live their lives. This is a direct relation to the theme of moving on and intellectual progression. In order to move on with their lives, the Weiss’ have to establish new identities for themselves and vice versa.
Theme – Identity: In the opening scene, we are introduced to the theme of identity right away. Charles is sitting in the barber chair and does not recognize two of the men waiting for a haircut. He knows the identity of Charles as a guard at the bank. The narrator also portrays that he is struggling with his own identity. He has to make a potentially life altering decision and is unsure of what to do.
Theme – Moving On/Progression: This relates to the fact that the narrator is conflicted and him being unsure of moving on and leaving his wife and home.
His late wife, Tess Gallagher, has argued that his literary pieces were not at all minimal. After his death, Gallagher published a collection of his works, a book titled, “Beginners.” The book includes unedited versions of Carvers stories that were much longer than the ones published by his editor.
Films on Demand:
46:57 – 47:57
49:28 – 49:56