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Collected Stories

4.61  ·  Rating Details ·  1,406 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
Raymond Carver’s spare dramas of loneliness, despair, and troubled relationships breathed new life into the American short story of the 1970s and ’80s. In collections such as Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? and What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Carver wrote with unflinching exactness about men and women enduring lives on the knife-edge of poverty and other depr ...more
Hardcover, 1017 pages
Published August 20th 2009 by Library of America (first published May 3rd 1985)
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Mar 23, 2010 Mark rated it it was amazing
I'm a fan of horror stories. I'm also a fan of literary short fiction though I must admit to rarely being able to figure out what I'm supposed to glean from most stories of this kind. I reckon it's like someone who enjoys crossword puzzles or word games, the joy of decoding the secret meaning. About two years ago, I came across Ray Carver, his name meaning nothing to me up to that point. The more I read about him, the more intrigued I became. Here was a guy that was considered literary, but spok ...more
Comprehensive collection. Most notably includes both original and severely edited versions of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. It's fascinating to see how Carver's editor influenced if not helped to create the style that won Carver such critical acclaim. At the time Carver didn't appreciate the red lining that, in some cases, cut/changed more than two-thirds of a story. It's fun to read then original and edited versions side by side.

I own about a dozen Library of America Collections a
Al Riske
Apr 02, 2010 Al Riske rated it it was amazing
I've been rediscovering Raymond Carver. Turns out he wasn't a minimalist after all. Even though that's what he's famous for.

His editor, Gordon Lish, was the minimalist, slashing many of Carver's stories by half. Others by even more. This was especially true in the case of the groundbreaking collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

Now, in a new volume called Raymond Carver: Collected Stories, we get to see the writer's original drafts along with the cut-down versions of those stori
Feb 08, 2011 Rodney rated it it was amazing
This guy was a master. I only recently discovered him and I read about five stories from the compilation "Where I'm Calling From" and gave that away then went right out and bought the Collected Stories. I can't get enough Carver. His stories are often so subtle in how they hit you, but man do they linger long after the story is finished. Yeah, there are some issues with repetition with the characters and their traits/personalities. And most stories end without much resolution. Some folks seem to ...more
Mar 30, 2015 Michele rated it it was amazing
I did not actually read this entire compendium - yet. But, after reading over 60 of his stories I am ready to shelve this book for another time.
My one word description of Carver's work is "unique." Any research you do on Carver will tell you about his minimalist style, his depiction of middle-class life, and his tendency to describe troubled lives that he would have you believe lie behind everyone's closed doors. Many of his stories irritated me as I read the last word because I (like many reade
Jun 20, 2012 Bobby rated it it was amazing
I knew this was going to be a 5-star book before I read it. I had already read and loved many of the stories collected here. I assumed I would love the stories that were new to me just as much. I did. I can now say that I have read every short story by Raymond Carver and I have loved each one.

The main attraction of this book is the inclusion of the manuscript form of Carver's most well-known book, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love". We can see the stories as Carver wrote them and comp
Jennifer Campaniolo
Dec 28, 2009 Jennifer Campaniolo rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful and comprehensive collection of Raymond Carver's writing. I love that it includes the original manuscript for What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, originally called Beginners. It's interesting to see the heavy hand of his editor, Gordon Lish, who was the man behind Carver's trademark minimalism. Some people prefer Carver's longer version, but I actually think the edits, though dramatic, make the stories more powerful, more mysterious.

You can't read this book all in on
May 30, 2011 Sara rated it did not like it
Wish I could fall in with the literati and gush over The Annointed One, but reading Carver (especially the G. Lish-pared, early drivel) is a lot like eating a bowl of Grape Nuts: you do it because you think you should, not because you necessarily enjoy it. Surely I can't be the only one out there afraid to admit to this. My heretical call: Carver's over-rated by half.
Oct 27, 2010 Graziano rated it it was amazing
I illuminate (myself)
with immensity (Ungaretti)


I illuminate (myself)
with minimalism

Je suis revenu chercher un asile dans l’impeccable naïveté (Baudelaire)

“Più di una volta ho cercato, (…), di rinchiudermi in un sistema per predicarvi a mio agio. Un sistema però è una sorta di dannazione, che ci spinge a una perpetua abiura: occorre sempre inventarne un altro, e questa fatica è un crudele castigo. E sempre il mio sistema era bello, vasto, spazioso, comodo, proprio e soprattutto levigato, o pe
Mar 23, 2015 Counsel182 rated it it was amazing
I consider myself a self-professed literary (redundant) type of person having (to invoke Twain) "read me" a book or two; however, I only recently--by sheer fortunate happenstance (thanks to my wife)--stumbled upon this Collected Stories of Raymond Carver. In a moment of self-deprecation I must confess to never having heard of him before--having undoubtedly been somewhat morbidly preoccupied with other things during the 1970's-1980's when Carver apparently was making the literary rounds.

These sto
Feb 25, 2015 Aya rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book.
1- the stories are great.
2- this book is especially good for anyone that is interested in writing and editing! It will be very fascinating to compare the original manuscripts of the stories (e.g. Beginners) with the edited versions (e.g. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love). The difference is rather huge because Carvers editor, Gordon Lish, deleted so extensively that sometimes less than half of the writing was left. Lish liked the bleakness, loneliness and d
Jun 06, 2012 William rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-fiction
I first came across Raymond Carver when I began to study creative writing with the Open University. I was recommended to revisit some of his short stories having not fully understood the relevance of them the first time. The usefulness of this collection is that it contains just about every short story that Carver ever published, and is a compilation of other, smaller collections.

The four stories I was recommended to read are: 'Neighbors', 'Why Don't You Dance?', 'A Small, Good Thing', and 'Cath
Marshall Comstock
Oct 26, 2012 Marshall Comstock rated it it was amazing
Carver is fantastic. I'm not usually a fan of books that are "Collected Works" or compendiums of an author's greatest hits, but this one is absolutely worth it if only for the fact that it contains both versions of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Carver's manuscript version (roughly 200 pages) and Gordon Lisch's heavily edited final version (100 pages). For those not familiar with the story, Lisch (Carver's long time editor) took unbelievable license with Carver's manuscript, often p ...more
May 17, 2011 Rupert rated it really liked it
I found myself starting this - having already read almost every single story at least twice in the collections they first appeared in - thinking I'd just dip in now and then until I found the next novel to read that would become my "main" book. But I got caught in the Carver beauty drone. Soon I was past the 800 page mark and felt like I'd sat across a greasy old table from Carver far too many late nights to count. Occasionally it would feel like you were hearing the same voice, but then there w ...more
Sep 24, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing
This is just a beautiful book, for two reasons. First, Carver finally takes his rightful place in the Library of America next to so many great American fiction writers with this nicely bound collection. Purists might argue that the he is best read from those stained vintage paperback we're used to reading him from, but that's another argument.

Second, this book ends with the original manuscript of 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love' under it's original title, 'Beginners'. For those not f
Jun 03, 2011 Charity rated it it was amazing
The true treasure in this collection is the original manuscript for "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," which Carver had titled "Beginners." Previously unpublished you get to see the editing that Lish did, reducing stories by 10 or 15 pages at times, changing the tone and texture of Carver's work. "A Small Good Thing" being edited down to "The Bath" is a perfect example of the impact that Lish had on the writing. Both stories are strong and I am not sure which I favor more, the ambigui ...more
Casey Hampton
Apr 12, 2015 Casey Hampton rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A gathering of story from one author is both wonderful, and maddening. As the definitive Carver, this is a great book and a deep well of information. I especially enjoyed learning about Carver's relationship with his editor Lish.

As arrogant as this will undoubtedly sound, I think Carver was at his best when Lish cut him short.

My two favorite stories? I'd say "Pastoral" and "Sixty Acres" are, in my humble opinion, Carver's greatest works. There were a handful of standouts I also enjoyed, but thos
Oct 12, 2013 Jay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: couldnt-put-down
Carver remains the person I come back to for examples of how to use all the words you need and no more. He's not perfect but he's very good. I particularly like Beginners (the manuscript version of What We Talk about When We Talk about Love).

This book moves on and off my read and reading list as I pick it up from time to time and re-read Carver when I'm looking for examples of how to do something.
Jo Barney
Jun 22, 2012 Jo Barney rated it it was amazing
This book is a course in the writing of Carver, his development and changes over time, his incredible ear and eye for the lives of his characters. A book to keep always.
Feb 08, 2010 Caileen rated it it was amazing
The Bible
Rebecca Wardell
May 22, 2011 Rebecca Wardell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The master. I've read no one else who says so much in so few words.
Short Stories by Raymond Carver

Another version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:

- and

At the end of Collected Stories, some of them…come back.
There have been a few versions and the reader- listener actually in this case- is given the chance to compare.

The printed, edited version of the accounts have a longer alternative that can be studied and enjoyed, in longer format.
I could not notice the differences,
Steve Petherbridge
Apr 25, 2015 Steve Petherbridge rated it it was amazing
This is my first reading of any of Raymond Carver’s work. These stories, written in the short-story form in order to accommodate the demands of his hectic life surrounding the demands of an early marriage and young parenthood which continuously interrupted his writing, are often tales of loneliness, despair, and troubled relationships. According to literary history, his style breathed new life into the American short story genre of the 1970s and ’80s. It is an impressive body of work in my opini ...more
Feb 26, 2010 Edward rated it really liked it
Carver writes in an essay included in this collection of stories from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s (he died of cancer in l988 at age 50) that in stories, “there has to be tension, a sense that something is imminent, that certain things are in relentless motion, or else, most often, there simply won’t be a story.” That notion helps to explain a lot of the “minimalism” that is found in a typical Raymond Carver story.

His stories catch characters in the midst of their lives, and for most of them their li
David Manns
Dec 26, 2014 David Manns rated it it was amazing
This beautifully produced Library of Congress book collects all of Carver's stories, a few essays and also includes a chronology. If you've never read any Carver then a word of warning. This is not a book to be digested in one go. I have dipped into it over the course of eighteen months or so and for good reason - there is a bleakness to Carver's writing that can colour your worldview.

These are stories of real life. There are no heroes or heroines here, just ordinary people struggling to make s
Christopher Sutch
May 02, 2015 Christopher Sutch rated it it was amazing
This is an impressive collection of stories and essays on at least two levels. The first and most basic is simply the strength of Carver's talent. His writing is very clean, precise, and does amazing things in your head while you read. He was a master of setting two or three things in opposition to each other in order to raise the significance of everyday objects or occurrences to almost archetypal levels. Aside from a few of his earlier stories, none of the 90 pieces in this book misfires. I ha ...more
Mar 14, 2013 Sicofonia rated it it was amazing
Alright, rather than reviewing Carver's works I'd review THE BOOK ITSELF. Because if you are reading this you probably have read some random story or another collection of stories before. And hopefully you liked what you read.
If so, this volume of Collected Stories should be a must-have. It comprises all of his original releases; namely Will you please be quiet, please?, What we talk about when we talk about love and Cathedral. Also stories from his collections Furious seasons and other stories,
Karl W.
Sep 12, 2009 Karl W. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Carver fans
It was interesting to be able to read different versions of the same stories. It was eye-opening to see how much some of Carver's stories had been cut by Gordon Lish, his editor. It was also interesting to read some of the essays, which I had not read before. The essays also served as a means to catch a breath from the stories. It was wonderful to have them included, as they revealed another dimension of Carver's insight and talent.

On the other hand, the very completeness and sheer scope of thi
Dec 21, 2009 Tuck rated it really liked it
when things are getting you down and maybe ALL your bad decisions won't let you sleep or function, you know its time to take a Raymond carver pill. i bet maybe, you never did sleep with that person you lusted after, or skipped town like you wanted too, or raped that girl then bashed her head in with a rock. no. but reading short stories could help pass your time during those long nights. this is a definitive edition with lots of notes, bibliographical essays, two different versions of "this is w ...more
J Haeske
May 31, 2015 J Haeske rated it it was amazing
Well, what can I add to the many (mainly) good things that have been written about Raymond Carver's work, by people that know about these things much more than I do and can write about them better than I ever could? Not much I guess. However, I have to say this is uniformly some of the very best writing, short form or not, I have ever read. Almost all of the stories left my deeply touched and the atmosphere conveyed in these stories is portrayed so vividly and realistically, it's an absolute del ...more
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  • Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories / Letting Go
  • Novels, 1926-1929
  • The Grapes of Wrath and Other Writings, 1936-1941
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, A Death in the Family, and Shorter Fiction
  • Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life
  • Novels, 1944-1953
  • Novels, 1955-1962: Lolita / Pnin / Pale Fire / The Lolita Screenplay
  • Novels and Stories, 1920-1922
  • Redburn, White-Jacket, Moby-Dick
  • Early Novels and Stories
  • Historical Romances
  • The Sheltering Sky, Let it Come Down, The Spider's House
  • Main Street / Babbitt
  • Novels and Stories
  • A Stranger in this World
  • Collected Plays 1944-1961
  • A Multitude of Sins
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. He ...more
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“It's akin to style, what I'm talking about, but it isn't style alone. It is the writer's particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There's plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.” 28 likes
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