What We Talk about When We Talk about Love

What We Talk about When We Talk about Love

by Raymond Carver


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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 finding one’s way through the dark.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679723059
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/28/1989
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 140,080
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 7.97(h) x 0.46(d)

About the Author

Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, in 1938. His first collection of stories, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please (a National Book Award nominee in 1977), was followed by What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Cathedral (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1984), and Where I'm Calling From in 1988, when he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died August 2, 1988, shortly after completing the poems of A New Path to the Waterfall.

Table of Contents

Why Don't You Dance?
Mr. Coffee and Mr. Fixit
I Could See the Smallest Things
The Bath
Tell the Women We're Going
After the Demin
So Much Water So Close to Home
The Third Thing That Killed My Father Off
A Serious Talk
The Calm
Popular Mechanics
Everything Stuck to Him
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
One More Thing

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What We Talk about When We Talk about Love 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
misirlou on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Raymond Carver's America is bleak. While Sherwood Anderson celebrates the inherent flaws in the individual, Carver works to accept the fact that some personality flaws can never be fixed. In this collection of his short stories, he relies on implication. Much in the way Hemingway likened his stories to icebergs (both are mostly hidden beneath the surface, leaving the viewer to piece together the real size of things based off of what they can see), Carver relies on an economy of language which makes his characters sadder and more pathetic as he asks the reader to imagine these people for themselves. This works because he presents believable characters. Even in a story like "Tell the Women We're Going" where the action (a seemingly unprompted double homicide) is unbelievable, the stories work because the characters are difficult not to believe. In the writing world, where characters are either too perfect or too intentionally eclectic, Carver creates characters whose flaws are mundane. The flaws are only shared with the reader because there's nothing the characters can do to change themselves-- their resignation is what gets you. Without Carver's keen eye for language, these stories wouldn't be nearly as interesting. In "I could see the smallest things" Carver pays special attention to having the narrator of the story see nothing clearly. Every statement she makes after she leaves the comfort of her house concerns her inability to see what's going on. As a metaphor, none of the characters in these stories can see what's going on. Either they choose to ignore the world, they're too caught up on themselves, or they see their mistakes but they take no actions to correct them.Despite the melancholy tone of the book, each story is capable of grabbing your attention and keeping hold of it until the last sentence. This isn't the best book to pick up if you're looking for something to cheer you up, but if you're looking for some easy-to-read, incredible short stories this is the book for you.
moonimal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hmm ... I'm a lover of short stories, but didn't get the praise/hype/awards that this guy has won. The fiction is very sparse, and definitely has a very personal flair - mostly through subject matter, and the non-linear progression of the conversations. I think this qualifies as voice, but the stories weren't that compelling to me.I'll re-read this in a year or so, to see if I missed something.
stipe168 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Known for his anguished perusal of every word in his stories, Raymond Carver delivers an incredible collection here. There is an economy to these contemporary stories about cheating spouses and lost love affairs. Many short story writers try to include a whole world in as few words as they can - Carver just gives you a picture and lets you muse over it yourself.
amydross on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On my first reading, I found it hard to see part the dated elements of so many of the stories. I don't know why that bothered me, except maybe that the 70s are both recent enough and distant enough that it's hard to read stories from that era without smirking a little. The characters are like us and unlike us in precisely uncomfortable ways.Or maybe that was always true of Carver. I don't know, but in subsequent readings, his style really got under my skin. I love the way he leaves you guessing, hiding his Big Ideas under oblique dialogue, carefully recorded details, and gallons of alcohol.
daddyofattyo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having had very high expectations via reputation etc. I must say I was a tad underwhelmed. By all means, a very good writer, and some of the stories were great, but others - I'd like to say 'WTF'? but will instead say were simply over my little head. I don't understand a story that seems to have no beginning and no end, not even a seed of an idea to ponder - it's as if you found a loose page from a book that doesn't exactly leave you with any desire to go and hunt down that book right away. I have another book of his stories - [Where I'm Calling From] and I since that one is an anthology of his best, I have certainly not taken it off of my TBR list.
the_unnamable on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brutal. Short. Amazing.Clawing through these short stories was reminiscent of reading Bukowski's poetry. Carver wastes no words as he chisels his fiction bluntly from blocks of motive and description. Some of the stories are mere pages, but hold up via the weight of the undercurrent, the hidden text.
rossryanross on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is an amazing collection of stories, with vivid, monumentally flawed characters--drunks, murderers, junkies, and everything else from the socially stigmatized end of the spectrum. Carver creates some great reads and leaves you wanting more.
aoxford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Carver's minimalist writing does not build up characters but breaks them down and nearly destroys them. He captures people at their most vulnerable and illustrates the power a chaotic moment can have on an otherwise stable person. The unexpected is all that should be expected in his often morose America as it is the unexpected which seems to matter most.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
These are fairly short stories, easy quick reads. However, there's really not much depth to anything outside of emotion, primarily the emotions of confusion and discontent. Simply, these are slices of life, straightforward and easy to understand surface-wise. There is some beauty to be seen in the grace and the simplicity with which Carver writes, but the stories get repetitive by the end, even with such a short book.
wunderkind on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Carver is very spare and very depressing, at least at first. I must admit that I wasn't sure I liked his stories much in the beginning, but about halfway through (I think with the story "So Much Water So Close to Home") I warmed up to him, and by the end I loved the overall effect Carver achieved. A critical blurb from Tim O'Brien on the back of the book says it better than I can: "The collection as a whole, unlike most, begins to grow and resonate in a wonderful cumulative effect." I totally agree with that; even Lorrie Moore, whose stories I absolutely love, hasn't achieved that kind of cohesion with her collections. Carver is very subtle, so reading one or two stories by him won't do it--the whole collection needs to be read through, and I would guess it's best to do it quickly, like I did. It's the mood that's important, not the individual stories (which often don't even have plots, just character interactions), and Carver captures a sense of the emotionally seedy underbelly of America. It's honest and blunt and would be depressing if it weren't so good.
vivaval on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading these stories made me feel hopeless and alone.
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