Raymond Carver

Bread

Introduction

As we explore the quiet, measured stories of Raymond Carver we will be looking at themes of loss, innocence, the effect of alcoholism, and survival (to name a few). Importantly, Carver is one of the major American minimalists. His stories are understated, normally centered around massive and significant events. This is characteristic of minimalism. Frederick Barthelme claimed that a minimalist is “leaving room for the readers, at least the ones who like to use their imaginations.” We’ll see this clearly in Carver. He leaves huge holes in his writing, and his sentences themselves seem to only hint at the deeper, more significant substance of the story. I liken his writing to the painting of Mark Rothko, and, while I know that Rothko’s work is not all necessarily minimalist, they certainly beg that we fill in the spaces that he leaves for us as the audience in a way that Carver’s writing also does.

The Stories

Here is a link to the story The Little Things, a later version of the story Mine.

We’ll also be reading:

Mine

Cathedral

The Bath

A Small, Good Thing

Neighbors

What We Talk about When We Talk about Love

Assignments

Here is the assignment that we did as we attempted to craft minimalist sentences.

Here are the guidelines for your response to the poem Lemonade.

This is the sheet detailing how I expect that you’ll respond to Cathedral and What we talk about when we talk about love.

Resources

Carversite.com is a nice little site with some killer audio interviews as well as a section that has Carver reading some of his own poetry. It is some seriously cool stuff, and I recommend that you check it out.

Carver is a very detailed, exceptionally well researched site written by a former student of Tess Gallagher, Carver’s former wife. It includes pictures, essays, interviews, and a very challenging essay on the notion that perhaps Carver was not so much a minimalist, but a percisionist instead.

Below you’ll find the first of five videos from a 1989 British documentary entitled Dreams are what we wake up from about the life of Raymond Carver. In part two Carver addresses the notion of the American Dream, which is extremely interesting.