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What We Talk about When We Talk about Love (1981)

de Raymond Carver

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
3,272522,981 (4.15)66
Stories feature men and women without education, insight, or prospects, who, ironically, are too unimaginative to ever give up.
  1. 40
    Principiants de Raymond Carver (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: "Beginners" is the version Carver submitted to his editor, Gordon Lish, under the author's title. Lish made significant cuts, changed character's names and removed dialogue to produce the version that made Carver's name: "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love".… (més)
  2. 20
    The Lottery and Other Stories de Shirley Jackson (whitewavedarling)
    whitewavedarling: Similar styles and character types, though Jackson's stories are a bit more developed in regard to character and plot. Both authors have a tendency of working toward endings that leave a reader making final decisions instead of tying everything up fully with a more traditional ending.… (més)
  3. 00
    Letti Park de Judith Hermann (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Jedes Wort zählt.
  4. 00
    Sleepwalk: and Other Stories de Adrian Tomine (bsbllbsbll)
    bsbllbsbll: Tomine captures Carver's immense talent for creating intense emotions in short spaces.
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I don't know about you, but I've never really seen the fuss around Carver's writing...yes, I get the "unique, outsider" stuff that's been plastered on him, but I spent years reading outsiders' work when I was an agent and, with that deep pool of experience to draw on, I think the only reason you're seeing this review at all is Gordon Lish.

He latched onto something in Carver's writing. He polished that something. But he polished it into something it never was before, and this is incontrovertible because Carver's widow Tess Gallagher didn't much like what Lish did and undid it. Here's a whole Wikipedia article about it. Also the plot gets summarized, a task I don't want to do myself.

The specific story I'll refer to is the title one, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Originally titled Beginners (read the full, unedited story here, behind The New Yorker's paywall; you can have three free reads a month, and this one's worth burning one for), the story is a four-person Decameron of lower-class life, a series of sad, slatternly people narrating the dead ends of dead people. A modern name for that is grit lit, or use the older group noun "noir" that intellectuals in the 1940s slapped on similar stories (especially their movies) to shake the last drop of piss off them. Fancy labels make all things better, establish their Worthiness for Inclusion; it's why there are fads and rediscoveries.

But if you read Carver's letters to Lish (again, the paywall applies, but I'm less sure it's worth burning a free read for this), I think you'll see how much Carver was replaced by equal or greater quantities of Lish. Editors do, always, leave their own DNA in a writer's work. It's part of a collaborative process that, at its best, makes the read that much better for the reader, and the writer that much better for the outsider's loving attention. But this, from Lish to Carver in 1982, after the fallout from this collection's contentious birth soured things:
I’m aware that we’ve agreed that I will try to keep my editing of the stories {in Where I'm Calling From} as slight as I deem possible, that you do not want me to do the extensive work I did on the first two collections. So be it, Ray. What you see in this sample is that minimum: to do less than this, would be, in my judgment, to expose you too greatly.
EXPOSE YOU is telling, isn't it; you're flawed, you're talentless, but *I* am here to protect you from the consequences! I'm also more than a little offended on Carver's behalf that Lish "deems" his work to be the minimum to make the lumpen oddities presentable, an attitude I think Lish telegraphs quite clearly by using the verb "to deem":
deem (v.)
Old English deman "to judge, decide on consideration, condemn;, think, judge, hold as an opinion," from Proto-Germanic *domjanan (source also of Old Frisian dema "to judge," Old Saxon adomian, Middle Dutch doemen, Old Norse dma, Old High German tuomen, Gothic domjan "to deem, judge"), denominative of *domaz, from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put" (compare doom). Related: Deemed; deeming. Originally "to pronounce judgment" as well as "to form an opinion." Compare Old English, Middle English deemer "a judge." The two judges of the Isle of Man were called deemsters in 17c., a title formerly common throughout England and Scotland and preserved in the surname Dempster.
(This from the Online Etymological Dictionary, whose Chrome extension I use with great frequency and frequent delight.)

I borrowed my library's Kindle edition of this book, my own 1980s paperback having vanished decades ago. I read the Lished version; I read Carver's original; I can't say I liked one better than the other because I wasn't enamored of either. They're not bad. But I came away thinking "...and why was this work deemed (!) so marvelous as to deserve to be gefilted (gefilte fish (n.)
1892, gefüllte Fisch, not a species but a loaf made from various kinds of ground fish and other ingredients; the first word is Yiddish, from German gefüllte "stuffed," from füllen "to fill"
if you're innocent of Jewish ancestors) into this allegedly superior work presented by Lish?

Why bother? There is so very much work out there, quite a lot of it starting out better than Lish ended up making this collection, that one could more profitably spend one's time reading! Works by QUILTBAG authors, works by Black authors, Asian and Asian-American authors, Spanish-speaking or Arabic-speaking or Serbian-speaking authors...all so much more trenchant or squalid, if that is your kink; yet here's this nice-enough collection (I re-read this one story, it's widely critically hailed as the chef d'ouevre, and it is the only one I remembered the first thing about, so you "you're wrong, I think it's wonderful" commenters are deprived of the usual favorite opening line) sucking up money and attention forty years on and for no particularly compelling reason that I can see. There are books whose titles are plays on this collection's title! It's that well known, it's some kind of cultural touchstone.

Try this: Imagine a lesbian had written these stories. Do you still think this would be a venerated cultural artifact? Much more likely it'd be a forgotten typescript in some poor, beleaguered agent's archives. ( )
1 vota richardderus | Feb 28, 2021 |
What's that phrase? Nasty, brutish and short? There are some spots of brilliance here (So Much Water So Close To Home is up there), but too many of these feel like variations on the same themes (drinking, adultery, etc.) Reading this immediately after Munro's Runaway was a pretty stark contrast. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
The thing about Raymond Carver stories, they can make you think over ordinary activities that actually are not like what it seems. They can make you think and analyze every word, and left you in awe. It can be a bit uncomfortable on some stories, however, that's the kind of stuff he's famous for. I'm planning on making a brief analysis of every short story in this book. This book makes me craving for more Carver to read. ( )
  bellacrl | Jan 19, 2021 |
Jag är inte helt säker på vad jag vill säga att Raymond Carvers What we talk about when we talk about love är en samling av. Noveller? Mja. Snarare fragment av noveller, som om han hört talas om isbergstekniken och tyckt att den var för mesig. Vi får möta folk på den amerikanska landsbygden: de jagar, fiskar, röker, ser sina äktenskap falla isär och blir småtokiga.

Boken klarar av sjutton berättelser på 134 sidor, så de är korta. Vanligen handlar det om ett par, som är i någon del av processen att avsluta ett förhållande (men det finns ett par undantag från den regeln också). Männen arbetar typiskt med något lågavlönat men inte alltför fysiskt, fruarna är hemma. Om någon någon gång tycks lycklig kommer det snart vara över.

Berättelserna kommer sällan någon särskild vart: vi får en känsla att det kommer gå åt helvete och varför, men inte så mycket mer. Behållningen ligger snarare i dialogen: varje replik låter verkligen som den kom ur munnen på en verklig människa: en husfotograf utan händer, en hemmafru som får reda på att makens och hans kompisar när de var ute och fiskade hittade en död flicka men valde att fortsätta campingturen och först ringa polisen när den var över, en man som varit otrogen och vars äktenskap ännu inte riktigt helt fallit i bitar.

Kort var det, och jag är nog faktiskt mest tacksam för det. Hade det varit dubbelt så många berättelser hade jag nog inte orkat. Hade de varit dubbelt så långa, men lika täta, så kanske den hade bättrats. Men kanske inte. ( )
  andejons | Jun 16, 2020 |
I'm ready to credit Raymond Carver's editor with his success as a short-story writer. ( )
  jostie13 | May 14, 2020 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Carver, Raymondautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Duranti, RiccardoTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Frielinghaus, HelmutTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gustafsson, KerstinTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Mattila, RaijaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Pivano, FernandaEpílegautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Puławski, KrzysztofTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Rolin, GabrielleTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Udina, DolorsTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Zberro, NathalieTraductionautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Zulaika Goicoechea, JesúsTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Zulaika, JesúsTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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