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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  50,325 ratings  ·  3,642 reviews
Librarian's Note: This is an alternate-cover edition for ISBN 9780679723059

In his second collection, including the iconic and much-referenced title story featured in the Academy Award-winning film Birdman, Carver establishes his reputation as one of the most celebrated short-story writers in American literature—a haunting meditation on love, loss, and companionship, and f
Paperback, Reissue Edition, 176 pages
Published June 18th 1989 by Vintage Books (first published April 20th 1981)
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Courtney Nope.

I think you might be able to read some of the out-of-copyright ones (this varies by country - U.S., I think, is 50 years after the authors' deat…more

I think you might be able to read some of the out-of-copyright ones (this varies by country - U.S., I think, is 50 years after the authors' death) through the app, but I can't say for sure. That would be stuff like Emma, or Pride and Prejudice.

This is more recent, and he only passed on in the 80s. Copyright won't expire until at least 2038.

Goodreads isn't an e-reader app/site, it's for tracking what you've read or want to read, reviewing and discussing books, etc.(less)
KTMac Carver's work is easy to read in terms of prose but certainly needs to be deeply annotated and examined to feel the full meaning of his work. My copy …moreCarver's work is easy to read in terms of prose but certainly needs to be deeply annotated and examined to feel the full meaning of his work. My copy is entirely marked up. To that end, if your essay is for an English class regarding symbolism, literary devices, and analysis of annotation this is a great choice!(less)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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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
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Suppose I say summer,
write the word “hummingbird,”
put it in an envelope,
take it down the hill
to the box. When you open
my letter you will recall
those days and how much,
just how much, I love you.

Capturing bliss in one word, crystallising tenderness and love at once into a precious gift and a delicate act of remembrance, Hummingbird, the affectionate poem closing this collection, charmed me in its endearing simplicity and ended up as my favourite - reading this short poem magically trans
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
4.5 stars

“This is awful. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me or to anyone else in the world.”

I’m not so sure that now was a ‘good’ time for me to read these joyless, if not downright disturbing, stories. To be honest, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to wallow in such darkness. I may have pulled the above quote from "Gazebo", one of the seventeen shorts in this collection, but it pretty well sums up how I felt when I turned the last page. The paradox here, however, lies in the fact tha
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
He makes it look so easy. He almost makes it look too easy in this short story collection, as though there isn't much here aside from spare language and even sparer "plot".

But there is. The stories are deceptively small, but there's a depth of authenticity to these shrapnel blasts. In each of these stories, which explore the transience of love and the various ways we damage or destroy it completely, there is a hard, dark centre.

* 'I Could See the Smallest Things' has a woman thinking of slugs

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
Dave 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
Andrew Smith
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
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
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
Joe Valdez
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
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
This collection of short stories offers brief glimpses into the darker side of human nature, with some things acted upon, others left to fester in the mind.  Snippets of life, what truly lies within one's heart and the capacity to act on it.  We become privy to conversations not meant for our ears, and witness a tug of war that left me stunned.  I always appreciate an author who is confident enough in his work to allow the reader to come to his own conclusions.  That's what happens here. ...more
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
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A week after I finished this wonderful short story collection and I honestly can’t write a few words that could do it justice. I tried several times and the only thing that comes to mind is the nightmare we’re all currently living.

Never ever in my life did I expect to see the things I’ve seen for the last two weeks.
At first I thought this was only the media doing what they do best; alarming people. But I was wrong (or I didn’t want to believe I could be right) and a couple of days later I was l
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Steven Godin
Raymond Carver is simply one of the best post-war American writers, simply because he keeps everything within, simple, crisp and clear. He honed his writing craft to such a degree here that this collection may well be his best work. Focusing on lonely men and women who talk, drink, go fishing and play cards to pass the time of day. Told in a minimalist style with a razor-sharp sense of how people get along in a contemporary America using dialogue that reads like an absolute dream. There's still ...more
having an "i can only finish books that are 150 pages long and it STILL takes me an excessive amount of time" kind of week.

or month.

or year.

or lifetime.

“Drinking’s funny. When I look back on it, all of our important decisions have been figured out when we were drinking. Even when we talked about having to cut back on drinking, we’d be sitting at the kitchen table or out at the picnic table with a six-pack or whiskey.”
― Raymond Carver, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

A series of 17 short stories averaging about 6-8 pages each looking at a different facet of love, its loss and gin. I may have put one star too many on some of these and
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is a collection of seventeen very short but potent stories that reveal the raw and ragged face of love. No, love is not a many splendored thing, as Frank Sinatra would have us believe. Carver tells us that love is fragile. All the stories speak of love that has lost its shine. It is a despairing view of love and sobering, especially because Carver steered away from sentimentality or exaggeration.

Several stories talk about love blighted by drunkenness an
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
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
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.
Manuel Antão
Jul 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Answer: In other words, everything else: "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" by Raymond Carver, Gordon Lish “

I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.”
in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver, Gordon Lish
Imagine the following sentence: “By 8 AM I wake up to go to the bathroom.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Except for the title story, I found these stories tiresome. By the time I got to the title story (which I’ve read before) in its penultimate spot, I was beyond tired of all the drinking the characters did; and because of that, I liked the title story a bit less than when I read it in isolation, though I agree it’s his masterpiece.

I wasn’t interested in most of the characters and I disliked the deadpan lines that concluded most of the stories, apparently the doing of Gordon Lish, Carver’s editor
Ahmad Sharabiani
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Raymond Carver
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is a 1981 collection of short stories by American writer Raymond Carver, as well as the title of one of the stories in the collection.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: The story is about four friends—Mel, Teresa (Terri), Laura, and Nick. The setting is Mel's house, around a table with a bucket of ice in the middle. A bottle of gin is inside it. They soon start to talk about love (as the
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: anthology, 501
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
Richard Derus
I don't know about you, but I've never really seen the fuss around Carver's writing...yes, I get the "unique, outsider" stuff that's been plastered on him, but I spent years reading outsiders' work when I was an agent and, with that deep pool of experience to draw on, I think the only reason you're seeing this review at all is Gordon Lish.

He latched onto something in Carver's writing. He polished that something. But he polished it into something it never was before, and this is incontrovertible
May 30, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This book has been on my list for over five years(!), so I was thrilled to find it on Hoopla. To me it was akin to listening to Andy Rooney reading the grumblings of an old man. I’ve read that this is a heavily edited collection and many prefer the longer versions, but I suspect Raymond Carver goes next to George Saunders on my shelf of authors that I just don’t get. 2 stars
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
I am almost always late on the bandwagon; I’m not sure how I do it, but I often tend to miss new shows, bands or books by a few years, and then I get around to them, get super excited and everyone else is like “yeah, we know…”. Case in point: I recently started watching “Shameless” (the American version) and got very emotionally invested in it – and I can’t find anyone to talk about Fiona’s terrible decision-making or Ian and Mickey’s adorable relationship with, because everyone else who cares j ...more
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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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