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A New Path to the Waterfall

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,004 ratings  ·  71 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 Chekh ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 13th 1994 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 1989)
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 ·  1,004 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Down below the window, on the deck, some ragged-looking
birds gather at the feeder. The same birds, I think,
that come every day to eat and quarrel. Time was, time was,
they cry and strike at each other. It's nearly time, yes.
The sky stays dark all day, the wind is from the west and
won't stop blowing. . . Give me your hand for a time.
Hold on to mine. That's right, yes. Squeeze hard.
Time was we thought we had time on our side. Time was, time was,
those ragged birds cry.

Steven Godin
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it

Naches River. Just below the falls.
Twenty miles from any town. A day
of dense sunlight
heavy with odors of love.
How long have we?
Already you body, sharpness of Picasso,
is drying in this highland air.
I towel down your back, your hips,
with my undershirt.
Time is a mountain lion.
We laugh at nothing,
as I touch your breasts
even the ground squirrels
are dazzled.

— — —

My wife had disappeared along with her clothes.
She left behind two nylon stockings, and
a hairbrush overlooked behind the bed.
I should like t
Dave Schaafsma
The Human Heart, That Old Port

Raymond Carver was one of the best short story writers of all time. He came from a chaotic working class family, with a violent alcoholic father. He himself pretty much destroyed his life through alcohol abuse, and many of his stories emerged out of that life and his experiences with AA. He was married at 19, had three kids by the time he was 23, and early on admits he took on “full-time drinking as a serious pursuit.” He was dead by fifty, but ten years before he
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, poetry
Thanks to my Goodreads friend Julie for recommending Raymond Carver. This is a an emotional book of poetry. I had tears in my eyes reading the last few poems. I love this book!

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.
Chandler Chandler
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sometimes, briefly, I wish I could separate concerns about craftsmanship from emotional impact. Shortly after those times, I usually think about how deeply intertwined the two are, and how that distinction is maybe a stupid one to make, because ideally, art makes interesting use of the overlap.

No author sits as neatly at the tense point between those two concerns than Raymond Carver the poet. And no collection of his work better embodies his no-frills depiction of deep emotional currents than t
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Sara Vidal
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'but at that moment, sitting there in front of his tidy desk …. nagged by the memory of a poem he'd wanted to write...' oh yes this book of poems speaks to me. ...more
Priya Sharma
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know nothing about poetry. I couldn't explain why a poem is "good" or "bad" to save my life. There were things in here that I loved though, which made me cry all the more when I went back and read the introduction and learnt of Carver's fate.

Late Fragment
And did you get what you 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.
Jul 05, 2011 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.
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Dan Siney
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm incapable of explaining how much I love this book and this author. ...more
Tyler Jones
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, dying
It is a testament to Carver's commitment to poetry that this book even exists. He knew the end was getting near, and he continued to sent us these reports; this is how it feels, this is what it's like...
As honest and powerful as the prose he is more well known for.
Matt Maielli
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"This man doesn't deserve poems and they shouldn't be given to him in any form. His poems, should he produce any more, ought to be eaten by mice." ...more
Oct 20, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jul 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
Robert Isenberg
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Phil Greaney
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read this in one sitting; then returned to it over a few days, as I often will with poems. I think in the second and third reading of some poems I wanted to find there the genius we find in Carver's stories. I'm afraid, try as I might, I couldn't. I do want to love his poetry.

Why doesn't it work? I felt there was no compelling reason for many of these to be poems at all. I couldn't find there that diamond-hard precision in language that we find in the stories or we find in poetry elsewhere. Th
Brennan Humphreys
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is Carver's final work, compiled by his wife Tess a little after his death. It's a mix of early poems, poems written close to his death, and the prose/poetry of writers he loved, mostly Chekhov. It lacked the cumulative force of other short story & poetry collections. There were glimmers of beauty & weight, but the epigraphs usually wowed me more than Carver's own writing. Still happy to have read it--a glimpse into a man who knows his time is short.

"Who, secretly, doesn't lust after every
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
My rating would probably be more like a 3.5. I really didn’t care most nearly all of the Chekhov stuff not for the other author’s poems inserted. I mean there was a few poems about fishing that were basically just instructions.

Then there’s Carvers fishing poems. A 3 page poem about fish? Give me a break, old pal. Yet when he hits, he hits hard and he broke my heart many times. Especially those last few. Damn.
Alexander Donnan
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think this might be my first Goodreads review ever. This had to be done. However, I'm tired, so I'll just post what I posted on twitter about this two seconds ago:

"I was worried after the first 86 pages that this was going to damage my relationship with Carver as a writer. A writer I had invested time in and adored as a fan and a student. But then page 87 happened and it just killed it from then on. I love #raymondcarver. You should too".

Andrew Lafleche
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Today I reeled this clutter up from the depths....the quiet that comes to a house where nobody can sleep."

This is the first time I've read Carver's poetry and it's everything I expected from him.
Mike Barzacchini
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book many times over the past few decades. And it's about time to read it again. Strength and comfort in these poems. An understanding, acceptance, and yes, a celebration, of the fragile, temporary nature of life. ...more
Lillian Clark
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Summer Fog
Sunday Night
The Painter and the Fish
The March into Russia
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Breathtaking, from Tess’s introduction to the very end.
Jenny Clark
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A nice variety of poems. The last part is pretty emotional. A good poet to explore!
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Raymond Carver is incredible.
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A heartfelt goodbye.
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Carver was born into a poverty-stricken family at the tail-end of the Depression. 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 saw this opportunity as a turni ...more

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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.”
“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…