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A New Path to the Waterfall

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  662 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Raymond Carver, author of Where I'm Calling From, is widely considered one of the great short story writers of our time. A New Path to the Waterfall was Carver's last book, and shows a writer telling the truth as best as he knows how in the time left to him. The sixty-odd poems in this collection are linked by Carver with selections from other writers, most notably Chekhov ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 13th 1994 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 1989)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,102)
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Chandler Chandler
Love Carver. Hands down he's my favorite author. I love his funny reflections on his former life of heavy drinking. He never quit smoking though which lead to his death. Since it's written by Carver when he knows he's dying, it's also very powerful.
It includes my favorite poem:
No other word will do. For that's what it was.
Gravy, these past ten years.
Alive, sober, working, loving, and
being loved by a good woman. Eleven years
ago he was told he had six months to live
at the rate he was going.
I love Carver's stories as much as anyone, but man do these poems stink. I've given the collection two stars because there is a compelling, touching quality in these heartfelt confessions, but they're really not at all good.
Sep 23, 2011 Armand rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ray Carver fans.
In one of the poems in Raymond Carver's "A New Path to the Waterfall ", called "His Bathrobe Pockets Stuffed with Notes", Ray Carver describes provides a list of short, written fragments found in someone's bathrobe pockets. To whom the bathrobe belongs to is a bit unclear. Butn I suspect it's supposed to be Ray Carver himself. In the poem, the notes in his pockets cover everything from personal memories, to a recollection of a Belgian painter, to Star Trek, and in many ways, that's what "A New P ...more
I think Carver, if he had lived, could of been a good poet. There are some good poems in A New Path to the Waterfall, but there are also some bad ones, ones that could of been cut down (like in half), and just plain old blocks of prose (and I'm flexible on that). This collection was ambitious in design, as it is broken up by re-cast passages from the writings (mainly) of Checkhov that are meant portray the great Russian writer as a poet at heart. You'll get no argument from me. These passages ar ...more
An impulse buy (of $1.50 at the library), "Waterfall" is a priceless addition to my bookshelf. I've long love Carver's stories (starting with "Cathedral"), and I had no idea that he wrote poetry before his death in the late 1980's. More surprising still, "Waterfall" is his final collection, a kind of homage to his own life and thoughts. His wife, Tess Gallagher, seems to have assembled it posthumously, and every poem has the urgency of waning days. Some startling quotes from Chekhov are scattere ...more
I wept while reading the intro to this book. Tess Gallagher put together Raymond Carver's poems after his death and wrote about the experience. What an amazing memorial to him and to their relationship. He had cancer and knew he was dying and she stayed with him till the end. Carver was famous for his fiction but his poetry is not to be missed, my favorite is the famous line (I'm paraphrasing here) "everything after that was gravy." It has to do with the knowing he was dying and the time he had ...more
this probably got an extra star because it was carver's last book, and you can feel his urgency, his intensity, his candle burning bright before the dawn. that said, after reading the introduction, which i read last, i see what they were trying to do with all the quotes from chekhov and others, but while reading it just felt like annoying filler.

also, the poems in here are uneven in terms of quality, but it is worth it for the ones at the top of the scale.
while his poetry isn't as stellar as his prose, Carver is still a force to be reckoned with. The poems that ended this volume... powerful stuff... to actually read this man accepting his death is incredible. With that said, don't start here if you are just getting into Carver. Do some short stories, then migrate to his poetry. This book made me cry. Well done.
Jul 05, 2011 g marked it as to-read
Want to read this because of the coda, "Late Fragments" that was mentioned on HMH LiT Tumblr (

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
Dan Siney
I'm incapable of explaining how much I love this book and this author.
This was Raymond Carver's 11th and apparently last book of poems, published after his death by his wife Tess Gallagher, who writes a long, thoughtful introduction describing Carver's last months before dying of cancer at age 50. Unlike his previous collection, "Where Water Comes Together With Other Water," this book has a number of poems that are more dream-like and surreal, the references not always easy to grasp. There are story poems that resemble the characters and situations in his short st ...more
Courtney Johnston
So, I still don't think Raymond Carver is a very good poet. That didn't stop me from loving some of the short-storiest of the works in this collection. 'What the Doctor Said' is deservedly well-known, for making universal one of those tragic, tragi-comic moments:

He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a reli
A collection of poetry assembled towards the end of Carver's life. Interspersed between his writings are selected poems from other writers, most notably a sizeable collection of Chekov. I didn't feel like the collection was doing much for me until the last third of the book - the reflections on Carver's life, sickness, diagnosis and acceptance of death are incredibly moving. The poems regarding his decision to marry Tess are simply gorgeous and by the end I was holding back tears. Beautiful writ ...more
Al Maki
I had no idea who Carver was until some years after I read the book. I bought the book for the title and the effect of the first few pages on me. Being able to write honestly about one's own impending death is an extraordinary accomplishment.
Sam Pryce
A highly personal, reflective collection from Carver at the end of his life in the knowledge that the end is nigh. His awareness of his terminal condition makes his poems all the more powerful and universal in appeal. Definitely something to return to, and especially in old age.
Laura Neu
In short, this is book to ponder. It's hard to review, given that each section is so very different. Each section deserves its own review and rating.
Excellent. Last testament to Carver. Easy to read, casual, honest poems. Though wonderful, Carver's stories can sometimes be constructs pretending not to be constructs. These poems are not pretending to be anything and by openly quoting his sources of inspiration there's an additional layer of modesty and honesty. Most of all this collection gave me pause for thought about who Raymond Carver really was, what he was like, and we find him generous, compassionate and full of gratitude. This collect ...more
Timothy Schirmer
Some poems in this collection are certainly stronger than others. I prefer Carver's longer prose poetry, and there are a handful of stunning prose poems in this collection. I cried at several of them, which, for me anyhow, points to their magnitude on the emotional richter scale; in other words, a poem that makes me cry is a damn good poem! It was fun to read Carver as a poet. It appears that fiction was his wife, poetry his mistress!!!!
Andrew Blok
With writing as personal and honest as this book, it feels weird to offer a review. Carver gives an affective goodbye to literature and his life, by looking back and looking forward, searching for something that, even if it's not an escape from his past, is the next best step. It seems that after reading this collection, you get to see something of Carver that can only be seen through his poetry. (Try "Gravy" on for size.)
This is a collection I will reread in perpetuity. Published posthumously but prepared for publication with the love and support of Carver's wife, Tess Gallagher, these poems pack an incredible punch via relatively simple musings on mortality. Fatality this raw could be terribly morbid but Carver's lines are tinged with the joy and wrought with appreciation for life and it's simplicity despite the finite time spent living.
I've never read Raymond Carver's fiction, but his poetry is strong and insightful. He gets personal (I love being there when he puts on his robe at night and puts his hands into the pockets only to find scraps of paper with ideas on them... feels very in the moment) in a comfortable way, and the way he loves Tess Gallagher made me happy. This is a charming collection.
The intro to this book is so moving and sad, and gives so much context to the work within. A tragic but beautiful collection. Still can't decide if it's better to know you're dying, to have the time to reflect on it and enact final wishes and what not (this book is proof of how agonizing it must be), or to just be surprised by a sudden end someday.
Another collection of poems by Carver- a better writer of stories- collected as I understand as he was preparing to die. He was a sick man for a long time and wasted his talents. This is his signing off I guess.
a graceful and beautifully lush book in comparison to his earlier minimalism - he seemed to be tenderer towards his characters in these last stories. one of my most favorite collections.
David Jordan
Reading this book of Carver's poetry, especially the poem "Lemonade," made me think I might be able to write poetry, too. Two hundred-plus published poems later, I'm still at it.
This book is a great read!
Simply put I loved this book from beautiful intro to the very last line of the last poem...Very sad read for me.
So far the book has wonderful potential. This is also my first venture into Carver.
Kevin Shrum
Raymond Carver is my favorite author. His poetry and short stories are amazing.
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  • Fuel
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  • Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
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  • House of Light
  • The Selected Levis
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Carver was born into a poverty-stricken family at the tail-end of the Depression. The son of a violent alcoholic, he married at 19, started a series of menial jobs and his own career of 'full-time drinking as a serious pursuit'. A career that would eventually kill him. Constantly struggling to support his wife and family Carver enrolled in a writing programme under author John Gardner in 1958 and ...more
More about Raymond Carver...
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Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.”
More quotes…