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Raymond Carver

Carver, Raymond, 1938–88, American short-story writer, b. Clatskanie, Oreg. He was raised in the Pacific Northwest, where he often set his sparely written tales of everyday blue-collar life. His personal struggles with poverty and alcoholism (he stopped drinking in 1977) also colored his work. Carver's stark, minimal narrative style, pared-down language, and episodic plot lines are particularly effective in capturing the gritty reality of his characters. Captured, too, is the ordinary yet often revelatory nature of his characters' experiences and the range of their emotions, which often include guilt, grief, hopelessness, and the effects of fading love. Nonetheless, his stories are frequently tinged with a biting humor. His story collections include Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (1976), What We Talk about When We Talk about Love (1981), Cathedral (1983), Where I'm Calling From (1988), and the posthumously published Call If You Need Me (2001). Some of Carver's stories were heavily edited by his editor and the changes that were made have been controversial, with some preferring the tighter prose and sometimes changed story lines of the edited versions and some favoring the denser and more expansive original texts. The varying versions can be found in Raymond Carver: Collected Stories (2009). Carver also wrote poetry, which was collected in such volumes as Where Water Comes Together with Other Water (1985) and In a Marine Light (1988).

See W. L. Stull and M. P. Carroll, Remembering Ray: A Composite Biography of Raymond Carver (1993); S. Halpert, ed., Raymond Carver: An Oral Biography (1995); C. Sklenicka, Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life (2009); M. B. Carver (his first wife), What It Used to Be Like (2006); studies by A. M. Saltzman (1988), E. Campbell (1992), R. P. Runyon (1992), A. Meyer (1994), K. Nesset (1995), A. F. Bethea (2001), H. Bloom, ed. (2002), G. P. Lainsbury (2004), S. Rubenstein (2005), and J. Zhou (2006).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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