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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  38,958 ratings  ·  2,555 reviews
Alternate-cover edition can be found here

In his second collection, 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 finding one’s way through the dark.
Paperback, Vintage Books Edition, 159 pages
Published June 1989 by Vintage Books (first published 1981)
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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
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
Glenn Russell
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing

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
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, reviewed, poetry

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

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
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
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
حين نتحدث عن الحب, نتحدث عن تقلباته ونهاياته الحزينة والموجعة أحيانا
مجموعة قصصية للكاتب والشاعر الأمريكي ريموند كارفر نُشرت عام 1981
تحكي أحداث الحياة ومساراتها المتغيرة وتعقيدات النفس البشرية
مشاهد نتتبع فيها ثقل الواقع في علاقات انسانية مختلفة
والشخصيات يغلُب عليها الانكسار والشعور بالخسارة
أحوال الفقد, الحنين, الوحدة, الاعتياد, الخيانة
قصص متفاوتة وسرد بتفاصيل محدودة وبدون نهايات واضحة
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
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
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
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.

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
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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.
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
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
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
T for Tongue-tied
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anglosphere
I rarely get on with short stories. I need time to engage, I need time to move from affection to love. But this was different. This was instant.

Mesmerising in their simplicity, made up of fragmentary scenes that so often feel strangely quiet and motionless. Incredibly raw and earthy, both close-up and distant, Carver’s stories make you feel as if you were there, on that bed, in that shaded light. They crystallise into a myriad of hardly visible gestures, half-uttered sentences that dissipate in
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
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.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: g-contos, 5e, n-eua, favorites
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
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
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
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A estas alturas, escribir acerca de un libro de Carver (o de Carver-Lish, como parece ser este en realidad) es algo más que complicado si uno quiere parecer original; serlo es del todo imposible.

Tan imposible como no utilizar al comentar palabras o expresiones del tipo realismo sucio, desconcierto, silencios, como una cuchilla, soledad, frío, puñetazo en el estómago, lo indecible, inquietud, hechos cotidianos, violencia, relaciones de pareja, incomprensión, alcoholismo, sueño americano, crudeza
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
Minh Nhân Nguyễn
5 sao.

Biết nói gì về cuốn này, mình cho 5 sao là hiểu mình yêu quý no đến thế nào. Cac câu chuyên không chỉ hay 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...
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.
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
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
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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
“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.” 163 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.” 121 likes
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