“Every great or even every very good writer makes the world over according to his own specifications” are the words of Raymond Carver himself. He is best known for his shorts stories and poetry. Many people claim that he played a major role in American short story literature during the 1970-80’s. Many of Carver’s stories revolve around different struggles and hardships that usually end up completely altering the characters’ lives. These problems range from alcoholism to deaths, and much more in between. Throughout his own life, Carver experienced many struggles. Some similar to what he creates his short stories about. There is a strong similarity between carver’s comments about his life and past and how they correlate into his writing.
“Back in the mid-1960s, I found I was having trouble concentrating my attention on long narrative fiction. For a time I experienced difficulty in trying to read it as well as in attempting to write it. My attention span had gone out on me; I no longer had the patience to try to write novels”(Charters, Ann). What else would you expect from an author who his best known for his short stories. He was the trailblazer of the 20th century short story literature. The correlation is obvious between these two. Short stories, short attention span. He also talks about how he never begins a story knowing where it will go or how it is going to end. I think that is one of the best ways to write. The story, in a sense, writes itself. You can start off with a vision in your mind of a story about one thing, and then the next thing you know you have a completely different characters and setting, and it has nothing to do with your original idea. Another thing I greatly appreciate about Carver’s writing process is that he writes for himself. He says in On Writing, “ But if the writing can’t be made as good as it is within us to make it, then why do it? In the end, the satisfaction of having done our best, and the proof of that labor, is the one thing we can take into the grave” (Charters). Many people can appreciate that statement. Carver writes because it is what he loves and he is only going to give it his best. That is why when his stories were edited and published to the point where you could barely tell that Carver himself wrote them. He was dumbfounded and completely embarrassed. In a letter to Gordon Lish, he asked that he stop production of his writing What We Talk About When We Talk About Love because it had been so severely changed. Raymond Carver set the path for short stories and writing in general. He was and always will be a very influential contributor to the writing society and history.
None of Carver’s stories ever really end with the typical “happy ending.” His stories stem from tragedies that normal people are facing. Something drastically changes in their lives and it is usually not something that is very good. Death, infidelity, alcoholism, drugs, and much more seem to be a recurring theme in much of his work. However, they do not have the happy ending we usually see, but they do always have an ending. You might be able to go as far as saying that in the end, the character comes to some sort of self-realization or acceptance of what has happened. They learn to deal. A great example of this would be “Will You Please Be Quiet, Please”. In this story, the main character, Ralph, discovers that his wife had cheated on him. Understandably, he breaks down and leaves the house. When he comes home, he does everything he can to avoid contact with his wife. Then it changes. When he gets in to bed, he gives in and it appears that he has given up.
“ He turned and turned in what might have been a stupendous sleep and marveling at the impossible changes he felt moving over him”(Carver, Raymond). However, this is more a reality than some of the happy endings in stories and movies that we hear and read about most of the time. Carver’s stories are real and raw.