Paul Bryant's Reviews > Elephant And Other Stories

Elephant And Other Stories by Raymond Carver
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's review
Sep 30, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: short-modern-americans

One of the all time great collections of short stories. Seven more situations Carver uses to prise insight, weird humour, beauty and horror our of our lives, the lives we live but never volunteered for in the first place :

1. “Boxes”. A man’s mother continually moves around the country. This drives him crazy. It would though, wouldn't it?

2. “Whoever was using this bed”. a couple are woken at three in the morning by a wrong number which keeps ringing back. They give up sleep and have a long rambling conversation in which they realise they're both frightened of illness, death and various other things

3. “Intimacy”. A writer drops in unannounced on his ex-wife. She insults him vociferously and at great length. (“Then you held me up for display and ridicule in your so-called work”). He asks for forgiveness and gets it.

4. “Menudo”. A man is having an affair with his neighbour’s wife. And he's sorry for it.

5. “Elephant”. A guy's life is made unbearable by having to continually bail out his ex-wife, his mother, his son and his brother from their financial catastrophes. .

6. “Blackbird Pie”. a really really aggravating guy gets a 23 page letter from his wife (with whom he is living!) announcing that she’s going to leave him. He keeps claiming that the letter is not in her handwriting.

7. “Errand”. The death of Chekhov.

If you haven't read Raymond Carver you should give him a go. This is a great place to start. Five stars only because they don't allow me a sixth.

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08/13/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-14)

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message 14: by Tuck (new)

Tuck library of america has his collected stories, though not all of them, these are included. Collected Stories by Raymond Carver

message 13: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Insight, weird humour, beauty and's why I like your reviews, especially the weird humour.

message 12: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant Thanks Ian! Have you thought of organising another GR read-in a la Lolita? That was a highlight of the year.

message 11: by Ian (last edited Dec 07, 2011 12:04PM) (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Thanks, Paul.

There's one on the go at the moment, but I didn't think you'd be interested, Murakami's "1Q84":

The discussion group is here:

My review page contains a few things you might be interested in:

Musical haiku (which you might have got me started on?)

And an "interview" I did with Murakami where we discussed Godard, Chekhov, Proust and notorious parodies of (and in) his works.

Once again, I have made the mistake of placing my real review in My Writings, so nobody appears to have found it:

Oh and I might start a group for "White Noise" later in the month, in fact I might do another one of your hates, like "American Psycho". Ha ha.

We have to finish off the violence/porn/art/morality thingie once and for all.

message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye You might also be interested in the "Brain Pain" group:

I joined it as a way to develop my ideas about your concept of, what was it, hard books or difficult reads or doorstops, my version of which I have stuck on my "Exert Yourself" shelf.

Paul Bryant Ah, you are not wrong, I will leave Mr Murakami to his admirers! Likewise White Noise, one of the DeLillo's I didn't like. Now, Libra... that would be intersting don't you think? We could get into the whole JFK thing, and conspiracies, and mystery tramps, and all sorts. I love Libra! Yes I saw the brain pain group; I'm a good joiner of group & then.... well, you tell him, Paul Robeson...

message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye I'd like to work up to Libra after re-reading The Names and White Noise, but it's a good idea for a group.

Is there anything else on your list?

Brain Pain might exhaust me or reveal my lazy bones.

message 7: by Paul (last edited Dec 08, 2011 12:38AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Bryant well, I checked my To Read list and I suppose there are 2 "challenging" ones on it, dunno if they might appeal at some future point - one is Mason & Dixon (I never read Pynchon before) and the other is the Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet; (although Lawrence Norfolk's novels (Lempriere's Dictionary and The Pope's Rhinoceros) are allegedly hard going. Anything interesting there? I see they're all historical novels... hmm...

message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye I'm interested in both.

If you want to do a trial run for Pynchon, we could do "The Crying of Lot 49".

Paul Bryant okay, let's return to this idea in january after the chaos of Christmas....!

message 4: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Here is some more food for thought:

message 3: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye What about a summary of each story like your other Carver reviews? They're great.

Paul Bryant I'll do it.

message 1: by Ian (last edited Feb 13, 2012 01:22PM) (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Thanks. Your summaries lay bare the genius of his original inspiration, the idea he started with and then wound his magic around.

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