Sunday, June 14, 2009
This post is really a continuation of my previous one on Raymond Carver
I have not read many short stories in my time. After now having completed the second collection by Carver I am beginning to appreciate the skill involved in delivering messages about the characters using very little text. A full length novel has the luxury of being able to develop characters over time, and often still does not succeed. How do you, therefore, accomplish it in seven pages? Perhaps "developing" the character is not even the right term. How do you give glimpses of insight into the characters that allow you to, even momentarily, understand them? I am finding Carver's writing to rely on the logical thinking of his readers. Each sentence has a purpose in his writing and he leaves it up to us to determine their significance based on our own interpretation.
There are two stories that stayed with me the most. The first one is titled "Viewfinder". It is about a man with no hands who takes photographs of peoples houses and then sells them to the owners. He visits one house where the owner offers him coffee not necessarily because of his hospitable nature but instead due to a nagging curiosity to see how a man with two hooks for hands would hold the cup.
The second has the same title as the book itself. It is essentially a discussion between two couples about love. Their openness to elaborate on the more intimate aspects of their relationships is greatly aided by two bottles of gin. The conversation is good, honest and disturbing.