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Where I’m Calling From

Raymond Carver

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : The Harvill Press

Published : 1993

Copyright : Raymond Carver 1988

ISBN-10 : PB 1-86046-039-9
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-86046-039-5

Publisher's Write-Up

A major collection of Carver's short stories, including seven new stories written shortly before the author's death in 1988.

By the time of his early death in 1988, Raymond Carver had established himself as one of the great practitioners of the American short story, a writer who had not only found his own voice but imprinted it in the imagination of thousands of readers.

The Philadelphia Inquirer calls Raymond Carver "one of the great short story writers of our time-of any time" and The New York Times Book Review says his stories "can already be counted among the masterpieces of American fiction." Where I'm Calling From contains thirty-seven of his best works and reflects Carver's development as a writer over a period of more than two decades.

In his introduction to this selection, Carver noted V. S. Pritchett's definition of a short story as "something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing." Carver elaborated: "First the glimpse. The glimpse given life, turned into something that will illuminate the moment and just maybe lock it indelibly into the reader's consciousness. Make it a part of the reader's own experience, as Hemingway so nicely put it. Forever, the writer hopes. Forever." This essential work shows beyond all doubt that Carver's hope has been triumphantly fulfilled.

'The great gift of this realist (no minimalist he) is the beauty of his best stories, in which a sort of bafflement is the buffer against very ordinary lives.'

The New York Times

'Where I'm Calling From is the closest thing to definitive Carver.'

The Baltimore Sun

'Astonishing achievements, which bespeak a writer expanding his range and intentions.'

The Boston Globe
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Reader Reviews

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Review by John Alwyine-Mosely (310710) Rating (7/10)

Review by John Alwyine-Mosely
Rating 7/10
I have been struggling with Raymond Carver's "Where I'm Calling From" a collection of thirty-seven stories chosen from several previous collections published over 20 odd years which should therefore be an ideal introduction to his work. And... wait for it... I am going to abandon it unfinished half way despite him being seen as "the American Chekhov or the laureate of the dispossessed".

Let me say up front, that his prose, ear for dialogue and depiction of the ordinariness of every day life masking unexpressed pain and joy is the best. His stories are like photos that capture the moment frozen with no past or future with all the ambiguity that the unknown allows the reader/observer. The opposite of Norman Rockwell homeliness, more akin to the photos of Walker Evans of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. But they have no plot, twists, surprises, or surface complexity of character. These are often blue collar workers in small-town or rural settings struggling with jobs, partners, children and booze and it's the unsaid that reveals more then the fractured words.

The stories reflect his own drink problems and failed jobs and marriage in his 20s so he turned to writing to escape and short stories could get something in quickly to pay the rent and get food on the table. His life did begin to turn around and his work started to get critical alarm in his 40's before he died of lung cancer. His accessible prose, realistic situations and comprehensible characters are seen as a counter to egghead experimentalism.

But for me, I was left all too often thinking yes and what happens next even while the image created hung in my head. I also think that stories ripped from their original magazine context make the stories work harder then they needed to. I would have welcomed an edition that merged the stories with a set of photographs worthy of the writing. However, if you want to dip in and perhaps read a couple a stories a week or if you enjoy short stories then this is a book for you. As you say at the end of a failed relationship its not you it's me, and lets remain friends. Knowing it's really about the lack of passion. Yet the spurned has the chance of real love elsewhere... will that be you?
John Alwyine-Mosely (31st July 2010)

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