Carver PPT Essay

The author I chose to research is Raymond Carver. His full legal name was Raymond Clevie Carver Jr. He was born in 1938 and died at age 50, in 1988. In this presentation I will provide you with some background info on the life he lived before his writing career, including his 1st marriage that resulted in two children, the content and analysis of some of his literary pieces and then his 2nd wife who he was married to when he died.
Carver was born on May 25, 1938. He is notable writer of the 20th century and a contributor to the revitalation of short stories. In his career, he also wrote poetry and several collections of his poems were published.

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.

Maryanne Burke was his high school sweetheart. They were married in 1957 when Carver was just 19. In that same year, Maryanne gave birth to their daughter Christine. A year later their son Vince was born. Carver worked numerous jobs to support his family. He began writing after moving his family to California where his in 1961, he published his first story.
Carver’s alcoholism was the lead cause of the deterioration of his marriage. His first wife, Maryanne Burke, has said that the couple lived with his troublesome disease for a long time but their marriage could not withstand it in the end.

Domestic abuse and infidelity also played a role in their divorce. Carver has admitted that he was physically abusive during his “first life”

It has been said that Carver is one of the most influential short story writers of his time whose works are still read today. He wrote several short stories that can be found in collections of his writings as well as anthologies that include pieces written by other authors.

These are 3 of the collections of Carver’s stories that were published before his death.

The 3 stories I chose to compare that are written by Carver are, “Cathedral,” “The Calm,” and “A Small Good Thing.” All 3 stories have the common themes of conflict, identity and moving on.
Carver often used themes involving alcohol, alcoholism, instability, the working class and alienation. His father was an alcoholic and he followed suit by becoming an alcoholic himself.
First I will talk about, “Cathedral.” This was one of our assigned readings so you already know what this story is about… a blind-man who visits a long-time friend and her husband upon the death of his wife. It contains a use of alienation as the blind-man is different and unlike the other characters. The use of alcohol is a common occurrence in the story. Carver was an alcoholic – his father was as well and he followed suit. Alcoholism is a common theme is several of his literary pieces.
The second piece that I analyzed is, “A Small, Good Thing,” It is also from Carver’s 1983 publication of the collection titled Cathedral.

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 third and final piece that I analyzed is “The Calm.” It first appeared in the collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, in 1981.

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.

Although he wasn’t fond of the term himself, “minimalism”, “dirty realism,” and brevity are styles of writing often used to describe his work. His stories are not long, his sentences are short and he uses carefully selected details.

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, 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.

Later in his writing career he began writing poetry. There are also several collections of the poems he wrote.

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.

“Photograph of My Father in His Twenty-Second Year,” is one of Carver’s poems. In this piece he confirms his fathers alcoholism as well as his own which follows a common theme seen in his short stories.
So that concludes the information on Carver’s early life and the short stories that I analyzed.

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.

Something I discovered while performing my research were the film adaptations that can be credited to Carver’s work.

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.

Films include:

“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 died on August 2, 1988 (which happens to be my birthday!) from lung cancer. He is buried in Port Angeles, Washington at Ocean View Cemetery. His tombstone is inscribed with two of his poems, “Gravy” and “Late Fragment”. The tombstone also includes a bench and an inscribed photo of him and Gallagher.

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.

Carver’s wife, Tess Gallagher, has published writing pieces about Carver and their marriage since his passing. She has continued as a poet, writing and publishing works of her own. One of the book that she published is Beginners, the manuscript version of the collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. It is clear by this book that Gordon Lish, Carver’s editor, completely changed a great portion of his writing, eliminating entire paragraphs, replacing adjectives, and even changes the titles of some pieces.
Clatskanie, Oregon, the birthplace of Carver houses a memorial for the late author. It was constructed in the late 2000s and mostly local donations funded the memorial.
Theme – Conflict: there is an obvious conflict between the narrator and his wife. The narrator objects to his wife’s friend, Robert, coming to stay with them in their home. The wife is upset that her husband is unsure of it being a good idea.

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 theme of death is within this piece and the main basis. Scotty being hit by a car, hospitalized and then dying is what the entire story revolves around.

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 – Conflict: Narrator is conflicted on whether or not to leave his wife and home. Then there are Albert and Charles, two of the other men in the barbershop. The narration witnesses an interaction between them as Charles tells Albert a story about a recent hunting trip of his. When Albert is informed by Charles that he shot a deer in the gut but didn’t actually kill it, he thinks that Charles is barbaric for doing so and is also a bad hunter.

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.

The Calm by Raymond Carver

“Minimalism” is a term that Carver isn’t fond of because a particular reviewer of his work whom he didn’t care for is the one who first used it to describe him. From that point on he rejected the term. Carver also didn’t agree with being categorized as a minimalist writer. His works were heavily edited by Gordon Lish and far from being minimal.

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

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