David DeValera's Reviews > Short Cuts: Selected Stories

Short Cuts by Raymond Carver
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's review
Feb 24, 2010

it was amazing
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Carver explores the neurotic undercurrents of urban dwellers. His characters are typically immersed in the Everyday where the repetitive force of the mundane has them mired in the mechanics of living: House-sitting, birthday parties, beer buddy fishing trips, boredom, initiation of an affair, two pals cruising, looking for thrills. From these commonplace events, Carver produces stories that are pristine, using language scrubbed clean of verbal theatrics--no show off words, no eccentric constructions--just prose as clean and spare as Hemingway's and simple dialogue, but in the way that we say Mozart is simple.

Carver describes urges, images, and muted longings that you have always felt, but never could express in words,until now.

Take the story "So Much Water So Close To Home." A group of men go on a beer-bash fishing trip. Early into their trip, they discover the body of a nude woman floating face down in the river. The beer buddies agree to continue fishing. Why ruin a good fishing trip? She's already dead, so what's the harm? After all, they're going to notify the authorities, only later, so as not to interrupt having a good time. The beer-induced logic is funny as hell, but the story's neurotic undercurrent explores sloth, inaction and soul-less indifference; characters whose actions can only be sanctified after the factors of humanity and decency have been removed from the equation.

The wife of one of the beer buddies serves as the story's conscious. When she discovers that her husband drank and fished while a dead body floated downstream, she is appalled, alarmed. To her every accusation of "What kind of man are you to have done this?" Her husband's consistent answer is "She was ALREADY dead!" The marital rift over this issue reflects the story's title "So Much Water So Close To Home."

These are among the best short stories ever penned. If you enjoyed the short story "The Killers," by Hemingway or any of John Cheever's short stories you will be rewarded by reading Carver.

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