Nov 03, 14
men, modern literature fans, people who haven't read any Carver
Read in April, 2002
A band I loved in high school -- Peter Parker, of course -- had a song named "Where I'm Calling From," which was based on the title of this book, so I was implored to pick it up.
I started read it there and then, and while I think some of the brilliance was hard for my young mind to grasp, there was plenty of it that I could appreciate, despite my naivete. "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" is one of my runaway favorites - I tried to do my own short story tribute to it (but failed miserably), but I think "Cathedral" might reign supreme. Then again, everything in this is amazing, and there's plenty in here that I need to re-read and reinterpret - the two above are just the two I've read most recently (because I loved them so much even then).
I can't explain what it is about Carver that makes him so magnificent - possibly how well he can escalate one situation. Many of the stories focus around one incident, one time frame, so plot-wise they're not very complex, but as far as characters, there are so many layers as you watch people unravel around one event. It all feels very true to life.
In that Headley book I read a couple months ago, she made some joke about how a man carrying a Carver book isn't a good sign, and she's probably right. The stories, by and large, revolve around men while the women are generally secondary characters. Not that the women are perfect, but their flaws are just not put center stage as often as that of the men. The centerpiece of each story tends to be about some fucked up aspect of the man's character - alcoholism, insensitivity, ignorance, stubbornness, jealousy, etc. It's good insight, though, and women can still relate.