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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  33,562 Ratings  ·  2,058 Reviews
"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" is not only the most well-known short story title of the latter part of the 20th century; it has come to stand for an entire aesthetic, the bare-bones prose style for which Raymond Carver became famous. Perhaps, it could be argued, too famous, at least for his fiction's own good. Like those of Hemingway or any other writer simil ...more
Hardcover, 159 pages
Published March 12th 1981 by Knopf (first published 1981)
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KFed
Jul 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll announce the cliche of my loving this book before you beat me to it.

I'm an overeducated, mock-contemplative early-twenty-something with a penchant for strong male voices (despite my feminist leanings) and a distaste for anything too sentimental. I was raised in the tradition of "Show, Don't Tell" and hold this closer than even my favorite teddy (whose name is Atticus.) My middle name is "Minimalism." My other middle name is "Ooh, that sounds pretty."

With that out of the way, yes, of course
...more
Glenn Russell
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


This collection part of the 1980s Vintage Contemporaries series includes seventeen vintage Raymond Carver, including Viewfinder - An abandoned husband chucks stone as he is photographed up on his roof by a door-to-door salesman/photographer who had hooks instead of hands; A Serous Talk - An ex-husband expresses his rage when his ex-wife takes a telephone call in the bedroom by cutting the telephone line in the kitchen; One More Thing – A husband, wife and daughter accuse one another of being nut
...more
Jason Koivu
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A collection of slice-of-life short stories that mostly go nowhere and end ambiguously, and for some damn reason I loved them.

Carver gets mileage out of yard sales, photographers offering their services, accidental death, a night of bingo, doing things and doing nothing, talking yet saying nothing.

As a reader, I was frustrated when some of the stories went nowhere. I expected and hoped for big conclusions, finality, and instead I got dudes driving away from confrontations holding ashtrays. But
...more
Garima

Milan Kundera in his short story collection Laughable Loves, talks about the inevitable absurdity that revolves around the highly misunderstood feeling of Love that begins with innocent stargazing but later tempt numerous meteors to destroy the vulnerable abode of lovers. Promises are ditched, mushy definitions are torn apart and even when other things remain equal or unequal; he/she still loves me just doesn’t matter anymore. What remains is this filthy carcass of emotions that some people tag
...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
"Booze takes a lot of time and effort if you’re going to do a good job with it."

Indeed. If one wanted to distill the stories within this collection down to a pithy, inverted, Hallmark-style aphorism, this would be a top contender.

(Click For Review Soundtrack: "Little Person")

Drinking and smoking and talking: these are the true main characters of Carver’s world (and make no mistake: he’s summoned and crafted a distinctive world). Okay, we can quibble and refer to this trifecta more aptly as the t
...more
Greg
Aug 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My fucking head hurts. I should be writing my thesis, but the math part of crunching the data is hurting my head. It shouldn't though. It should be easy math. I'm dumber than I used to be. Instead I'll procrastinate, and share a review I wrote 6 years ago for another website that I haven't written a single thing on in just about 6 years. All date references should have six years added to them.

After reading MFSO's review I wanted to make some comment about a line that I really like in the first
...more
Andrew Smith
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first became interested in this book when I read Haruki Murakami’s memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Any book that can inspire Murakami to steal (most of) the line must be worth reading. Mustn’t it? Well I thought so, though it took me some time to get around to this collection of 17 short stories. The cover of the Vintage Classics version I read is sparse and the blurb gave nothing away. Ah well, in for a penny…

Originally published in 1981, the prose is lean and the general
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
This is like what would happen if Walker Evans had built a time machine, gunned it to he 1970's, landed in the field of some pop. 1000 Oregon hunting town, plopped down at a bar stool, and started writing field notes for photos of the place and the folks contained therein. He isn't actually going to shoot the images this time, though. Fill in the lines with your own muck.

Sparse, s(p)earing, simple stuff. Even if you don't generally go for a minimalist approach, Carver has this un-thumb-downable
...more
Nancy
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

When I started reading, I found these stories a little too spare, a little unfinished. They were snippets of lonely people and troubled relationships, but nothing I could really sink my teeth into. I set the book aside and when I picked it up a second time, I discovered that these stories are better digested when read with fewer interruptions. Although these stories are about a variety of characters, I found their commonalities, differences, views and struggles very com
...more
David Schaafsma
“What do any of us really know about love? It seems to me we're just beginners at love. We say we love each other and we do, I don't doubt it. I love Terri and Terri loves me, and you guys love each other too. You know the kind of love I'm talking about now. Physical love, that impulse that drives you to someone special, as well as love of the other person's being, his or her essence, as it were. Carnal love and, well, call it sentimental love, the day-to-day caring about the other person. But s ...more
Diane
Jun 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I picked up this collection of Raymond Carver stories after watching the movie "Birdman," which features a play based on the title story.

When I finished reading it, I was both impressed at Carver's brisk dialogue and wishing there had been more. He sketches scenes well, dances around a topic, reaches for an emotional peak, and then closes.

Like most short stories, it's a marvel of efficiency. But I still wish there had been more heft.
Joe Valdez
Nov 22, 2014 rated it liked it
If I had a teacher in high school who assigned Raymond Carver, I would've gone bananas for What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, a 1981 collection of seventeen stories published in literary journals in the '70s or early '80s. After being required to read Orwell and the goddam Canterbury Tales, reading So Much Water So Close to Home--where men on a fishing trip discover a woman's body in the river and wait until the end of their weekend to report it--would've been like ducking a bullet fire ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: 501, anthology
Dirty Realism is the genre where this book is classified. Coined in the 80's, the dirty-realism school of writing became popular during that decade due to the writings of Raymond Carver, Angela Carter, Bobbie Ann Mason, Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff among others. Their language is sparse and their characters are the blue-collar, middle-class Americans who faced disappointments, heartbreaks and harsh truths in their ordinary lives.

I have been reading a biography of Haruki Murakami and read last week
...more
Trin
Stylistically incredible if relentlessly depressing short stories. I read this because Haruki Murakami counts Carver as an influence, and I can see that: they share a certain spare clarity of prose, and an occasional touch of beautiful oddness (though Murakami takes the latter much farther than Carver does). But while Murakami is often quite funny, Carver is just bleak—read too many of these stories in a row and you’ll want to throw yourself off the roof. Read in sequence like that, they also st ...more
Tina
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tina by: Angus
I attended the wedding of my brother's best friend last week. I like weddings. It may be something that runs in the family since my brother is a wedding videographer. But I really, really like attending weddings, because it's such a happy, happy day. Plus, I really like hearing wedding vows.

Anyway, my wedding weekend read was Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love , which I borrowed from Angus when I got the chance to check out his bookshelf. This is my first Carver, and th
...more
Shovelmonkey1
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who wondered what Hemingway was like on dry land
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: seen it around - the title got me curious
Shelves: read-in-2011
In friendship
In affection
In love
In lust
In perpetuity
In memoriam

Is this what we talk about when we talk about love? Carver's stories are short, pared down love stories, stripped of everything but the necessary words and the skeletal, frequently all too human frame upon which to hang them. Some of his work doesn't seem like a love story at all, think Hemingway, if he left out the toros, marlin fishing and drinking. Carver is a landlocked Hemingway in fact. You might be left wondering, where is th
...more
Mnemosyne
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, n-usa, g-contos, e5, y-w
A primeira coisa que me ocorre dizer sobre este tesouro:
Vocês que me lêem, se puderem leiam-no…
Entreguem-se-lhe e terão uma fabulosa experiência literária!

São pequeninos contos - episódios do quotidiano - que falam de amor, de todas as formas de amor – e muito da falta dele -, amor fraterno, amor amante, amor conjugal, amor perdido, amor reencontrado, amor amizade,…; e de desamor, muito desamor…
São pequenos relatos de amor, de desejo, de morte, de egoísmo,de crueldade e que nos deixam lassos, in
...more
Algernon
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014

What do any of us really know about love? It seems to me we're just beginners at love. We say we love each other and we do, I don't doubt it. I love Terri and Terri loves me, and you guys love each other too. You know the kind of love I'm talking about now. Physical love, that impulse that drives you to someone special, as well as love of the other person's being, his or her essence, as it were. Carnal love and, well, call it sentimental love, the day-to-day caring about the other person. But s
...more
mai ahmd
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
تجربتي الأولى مع كارفر ، اقتنيت الكتاب عندما علمت أن موراكامي اقتبس عنوان كتابه (عن ماذا أتحدث عندما أتحدث عن الركض ) من عنوان كارفر وقيل لي أن موراكامي تأثر بهذا الكاتب وهذين سببين كافيين بالنسبة لي لأطلع على أعماله .. بدءا كان من الصعب فهم كارفر من أول قصتين حقيقة لم يكن الأمر سهلا لكن المضي في القراءة تجعلك قادرا على استيعاب طريقته في السرد ، إنه يكتب تفاصيل تبدو لك غير مهمة لكن مع النهاية تشعر بأهمية كل كلمة جاءت في النص ولم يكن أي سطر فيها زائدا عن الحاجة إن أعمال كارفر مدروسة بشكل يثير الد ...more
Rowena
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting collection of short stories, the first I've read from Carver. The stories are quite captivating in a simplistic way. They often end before the full story has been fully told. I guess that may add to the intrigue, but it frustrated me reading a story that wasn't quite done,in my eyes. I look forward to reading more from him.
sweet jane
"DRINKING’S funny. When I look back on it, all of our important decisions have been figured out when we were drinking"

Ο Καρβερ δεν γράφει, φωτογραφίζει! Το What we talk about when we talk about love είναι μια συλλογή μικρών διηγημάτων γύρω από τις ανθρώπινες σχέσεις. Το περίεργο με αυτό το βιβλίο είναι ότι δεν θα σου πει τίποτα που δεν ξέρεις, τίποτα που δεν έχεις ζήσει ή που δεν έχει ζήσει ο διπλανός σου, κι όμως θα το αγαπήσεις. Οι ιστορίες δεν βγάζουν πουθενά, δεν έχουν αρχή ούτε τέλος. Ο Κ
...more
Simona
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Il mio approccio con Carver inizia con questa raccolta di racconti. Una raccolta che sembra un album fotografico in cui ogni storia è una istantanea della vita nella sua quotidianità e del mondo di Carver.
I personaggi della raccolta sono autisti, artisti, commessi, sono reietti, sono personaggi che preferiscono vivere una vita ai margini della società piuttosto che esserne i protagonisti. Una vita in cui non solo l'alcool è il protagonista, ma anche e soprattutto l'amore come recita il titolo.
...more
Nguyễn Minh Nhân
5 sao

Biết nói gì về cuốn này, mình cho 5 sao là hiểu mình yêu quý no đến thế nào. Cac câu chuyên hay không chỉ ở nội dung mà còn gắn với nhiều kỷ niệm của mình, cuốn này mỏng thôi nhưng những trang sách đã theo mình trong một thời gian dài, đó là những buổi tối khuya yên binh, sự tĩnh lặng, những con người sẽ không gặp lại, la ký ức...
...more
Cecily
Feb 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short stories first published in 1981, but feeling a couple of decades older. They are heavily edited versions of "Beginners", which I reviewed HERE). Comparing the two versions of these stories demonstrates that Stephen King's assertion that "The editor is always right" is not necessarily true. See my review of On Writing, HERE).

Each is a vivid glimpse of people at a troubling time in their lives. One of the early ones contains the line "Booze takes a lot of effort if you're go
...more
Bắp
Chẳng biết nên nói gì về cuốn này. Ai đó đã từng nói nốt nhạc không làm nên bản nhạc mà là khoảng cách giữa chúng. Mình chưa thực sự sờ mó được tường tận cái khoảng cách của Carver, mặc dù mình biết rằng mình bị ăn đấm.

Không như những phần tử khủng bố thích tràn vào tâm trí, đấm tới tấp, vô cùng mãnh liệt, và khuấy động tới kinh hoàng cái vùng ấy lên, Carver chỉ đấm hờ hững, bâng quơ. Sức nặng không tới từ cú đấm mà từ sự thản nhiên và không biểu lộ cảm xúc khi đấm. Ông cũng không cho kẻ bị đấm
...more
Madeleine
One of the great things about New Year's is that a night of uncommon revelry means that I have no excuse not to spend an entire day all curled up with a book and a nest of blankets. And, oh boy oh boy, did I ever stumble upon a winner of a short-story collection with this one.

Among the myriad joys to be found in these decidedly bleak little snapshots -- and I place this above the unparalleled use of understatement, which is a thing that usually tickles me hardest about masterfully written prose
...more
Priyanka
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Carver’s short stories present spare glimpses of characters entrapped in a frazzled web of relationships and events whose significance they cannot understand. He generously uses symbolism to advance the story’s theme where a lot takes place between the lines. His symbolic guideposts are so reliable and meticulously crafted that they resolve ambiguity rather than creating it.

Carver’s slices of life ranges from surrealism in “Viewfinder” and “Why don’t you dance?”, to careful omissions in “Tell th
...more
rahul
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fear

Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive.
Fear of falling asleep at night.
Fear of not falling asleep.
Fear of the past rising up.
Fear of the present taking flight.
Fear of the telephone that rings in the dead of night.
Fear of electrical storms.
Fear of the cleaning woman who has a spot on her cheek!
Fear of dogs I've been told won't bite.
Fear of anxiety!
Fear of having to identify the body of a dead friend.
Fear of running out of money.
Fear of having too much, though people will not believe
...more
Laura Caltea
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scriitură foarte bună, genul de carte la care revii. Citisem/auzisem numai de bine de Carver și mi-a fost teamă să nu am așteptări prea mari și să mă dezamăgească, însă nu a fost cazul. Fiind proză scurtă, e greu să epuizezi cartea la o singură citire. Cred că o să revin la ea, de-a lungul timpului, dar pe bucăți. O proză foarte sensibilă și, în același timp, foarte „econoamă”, nu face risipă de cuvinte. Nu știu dacă e ok să-i compar, însă Alice Munro pare mic copil pe lângă Raymond Carver.
Sofia
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Bleak - stark - sad

I like his writing, his economy of words, his pictures but I have to admit that they are depressing. He catches people at their lowest levels, gives us pictures from there and there is no sort of empathy, elevation, hope whatsoever. Carver writes from a step away from his characters - as if they are objects he is looking at through a microscope.

a talky read with Maya :D



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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. He ...more
More about Raymond Carver...

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“There was a time when I thought I loved my first wife more than life itself. But now I hate her guts. I do. How do you explain that? What happened to that love? What happened to it, is what I'd like to know. I wish someone could tell me.” 138 likes
“Something’s died in me,” she goes. “It took a long time for it to do it, but it’s dead. You’ve killed something, just like you’d took an axe to it. Everything is dirt now.” 105 likes
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