HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Where I'm Calling From: Selected Stories by…
Loading...

Where I'm Calling From: Selected Stories (1988)

by Raymond Carver

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,795293,168 (4.31)42
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 42 mentions

English (27)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Put off by the theme of alcoholism running throughout the majority of stories.My favorite, and one of his last (?), Errand -- about the last years and days of Chekhov. Also beautiful - Where I'm Calling From.

I guess I'm not a fan of gritty storytelling, another example being Stuart Dybek's I Sailed With Magellan. ( )
  jklavanian | Mar 25, 2019 |


The typical profile of an American adult reader of literature is a college-educated professional making a decent salary in a choice environment such as the publishing industry, law office, consulting firm or college or university. But how about the other America, populated by men and women worlds away from ever reading literary works, men and women living in the raw-boned land of work boots, crap jobs, hard liquor, chain smokes, trailer camps, hollering from foul mouths and breakdowns from beat-up cars?

Well, welcome to Carver country. There are 37 stories in this Raymond Carver collection. As way of providing a taste of what the reader unfamiliar with the author might expect, here is a short write-up on four stories, each story vintage Raymond Carver:

THEY'RE NOT YOUR HUSBAND
Earl is a salesman "between jobs." Earl goes to the diner where his wife Doreen works as a waitress on the night shift. He overhears two men at the counter make less than flattering remarks about his wife's overly large posterior. Then, when Doreen leans over to scoop out ice cream, we read: "The white skirt yanked against her hips and crawled up her legs. What showed was girdle, and it was pink, thighs that were rumpled and gray and a little hairy, and veins that spread in a berserk display. The two men sitting beside Early exchanged looks."

The next morning Earl asks Doreen to go on a diet and lose a few pounds. Doreen agrees and Earl buys a scale and, with paper and pencil in hand, keeps close track when Doreen steps on the scale. Doreen has minimal success initially but then loses nearly 20 pounds over the next few weeks. At this point Earl returns to the dinner but what happens as he sits at the counter does not fit in with his plans of redemption. Ah, to have a wife other men find attractive and desirable!

FAT
A fat man sits alone at a restaurant table for his evening meal. He is so fat he would qualify for what we 21st century readers would term "morbidly obese." Unlike everyone else working at the restaurant, the cook, the busboy, the other waitresses, the narrator of the story who waits on his table is touched by the fat man's humanity. And the more trips to his table, the greater her compassion and understanding. We feel a kind of kinship with the narrator as she tells the story and speaks of the fat man's fat fingers, his puffing as he sits at the table, his referring to himself as "we." And when she is in bed that night with her boyfriend, we are given the sense that she is at the beginning of a life transformation as a result of her contact with the fat man.

NEIGHBORS
Bookkeeper Bill and secretary Arlene feel isolated and see themselves as stick-in-the-muds compared to frequent flyer, on-the-go salesman Jim and wife Harriet. Jim and Harriet go away on one of their many trips and, as per usual, leave their apartment key with their across-the-hall neighbors so Bill and Arlene can feed the cat and water the plants. Reasonable request; the courtesy and community of neighbors.

However, this time across-the-hall neighbors Bill and Arlene break routine, their envy and jealousy runneth over. First time in the apartment, Bill raids the medicine chest and pockets Harriet's pills and then moves to the living room and helps himself to a couple of good swigs of Jim's Scotch. Next time in, Bill commits even more extreme invasions of privacy. And then Arlene takes her turn invading privacy, an invasion leading to ,ooh, a naughty discovery. The story ends with an unexpected twist, leaving the reader with no doubts as to the depth of the couple's alienation and sadness.

VITAMINS
The narrator waxes floors during the night at the local hospital and lives with out-of-work Patti who, in her quest for self-respect via employment, resorts to selling vitamins door-to-door. After her initial success, Patti is promoted, given a crew of girls to oversee and an office in the local mall. But vitamins takes over Patti's life and she hates it, telling the narrator she even dreams of pitching vitamins to customers. Shella, one of the vitamin salesgirls loves Patti. Shella gets drunk and passes out at Patti's Christmas party. The next morning an injured Shella wants Patti to drive her to the hospital but the narrator won't let Shella wake up Patti. A cursing Shella walks out, never to be seen again.

The story continues and we as readers are given a clear view of a world where the quest for love is never a happy one and people fall back into listening to their favorite sentimental music and hard drinking, lots of hard drinking, with dreams of escape to such places as Portland or Phoenix. In Carver country what people are really trying to escape from is their own lives. The author captures their humanity and their despair in telling detail.

( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
You can't knock Raymond Carver's craftsmanship. The care he took to set up his stories, the details he included that spoke volumes about his characters' lives, and his determination to find stories in the sort ordinary rural and suburban towns that were well off the cultural map during most of his life are all admirable. I can't help but respect him as a writer. But I can't say I enjoy his stuff.

My problem with Carver is something I suspect that other people like him for: his stories are perfectly composed. They're so perfectly composed that I sometimes can't find the life in them. Their plot elements complement and balance each other so perfectly that his stories often feel like they were designed to be discussed in a college English course. Reading the stories in "Where I'm Calling From," I sometimes imagined that I could sense the author setting traps for the reader. The questions are already prepared for us: what is the pain that that man is hiding? Why can't that woman see what's right in front of her? They feel, sometimes, not like stories but like puzzles. Beautifully constructed puzzles, but still small, self-contained devices that start somewhere, end somewhere, and take few left turns between those points. Somewhere in here, you can sense the stirrings of that lamentable, self-conscious, ostentatiously minimalist genre that's sometimes referred to as "New Yorker fiction."

I think that Carver's stories also might, somewhat uncharitably, be described as a succession of twentieth-century Americans interacting in living rooms, workplaces, fields, and commercial spaces in unremarkable towns, described in prose so austerely minimal that it verges on reportage. The settings' ordinariness seems to follow the prose's no-nonsense spareness. There's a particular Hopper-esque American realism to many of them, minus much of the sunshine: cocktails are drunk, jobs done, cigarettes -- and the occasional joint -- are continually smoked. Characters cheat on their boyfriends or girlfriends, break up their marriages, get into arguments, discipline their children, make mistakes, and, sometimes, reach small oases of peace within their lives. It's difficult, sometimes, to argue that real life as we live it consists of much else, but this stuff is unlikely to speak to readers who'd prefer to focus on fiction's wider possibilities. Carver's characters -- and particularly his male characters -- belong, I think, to an older, often Midwestern, American type that came along well-before its culture became psychologized and infinitely more communicative: they're often stoic, responsible, closed-mouthed, and unwilling to voice their feelings and, often, unlikely to empathize with others. And perhaps these portraits are accurate. And in some of his stories, such as "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," "A Small Good Thing," and the title story, some light and looseness starts to creep into Carver's work. But they wore on me after a while. I can see, I think, why Carver has his fans: as examples of short stories, much of what's here is just terrific. But most of them never really connected with me, and I'm not sure they meant to. Maybe I'm more of a sentimental reader than I imagined, but, praise them as I might, I just can't love them. ( )
1 vote TheAmpersand | Dec 29, 2017 |

The typical profile of an American adult reader of literature is a college-educated professional making a decent salary in a choice environment such as the publishing industry, law office, consulting firm or college or university. But how about the other America, populated by men and women worlds away from ever reading literary works, men and women living in the raw-boned land of work boots, crap jobs, hard liquor, chain smokes, trailer camps, hollering from foul mouths and breakdowns from beat-up cars? Well, welcome to Carver country. There are 37 stories in this Raymond Carver collection. As way of providing a taste of what the reader unfamiliar with the author might expect, here is a short write-up on four stories, each story vintage Raymond Carver:

They're Not Your Husband - Earl is a salesman `between jobs'. Earl goes to the diner where his wife Doreen works as a waitress on the night shift. He overhears two men at the counter make less than flattering remarks about his wife's overly large posterior. Then, when Doreen leans over to scoop out ice cream, we read: "The white skirt yanked against her hips and crawled up her legs. What showed was girdle, and it was pink, thighs that were rumpled and gray and a little hairy, and veins that spread in a berserk display. The two men sitting beside Early exchanged looks." The next morning Earl asks Doreen to go on a diet and lose a few pounds. Doreen agrees and Earl buys a scale and, with paper and pencil in hand, keeps close track when Doreen steps on the scale. Doreen has minimal success initially but then loses nearly 20 pounds over the next few weeks. At this point Earl returns to the dinner but what happens as he sits at the counter does not fit in with his plans of redemption. Ah, to have a wife other men find attractive and desirable!

Fat - A fat man sits alone at a restaurant table for his evening meal. He is so fat he would qualify for what we 21st century readers would term `morbidly obese'. Unlike everyone else working at the restaurant, the cook, the busboy, the other waitresses, the narrator of the story who waits on his table is touched by the fat man's humanity. And the more trips to his table, the greater her compassion and understanding. We feel a kind of kinship with the narrator as she tells the story and speaks of the fat man's fat fingers, his puffing as he sits at the table, his referring to himself as `we'. And when she is in bed that night with her boyfriend, we are given the sense that she is at the beginning of a life transformation as a result of her contact with the fat man.

Neighbors - Bookkeeper Bill and secretary Arlene feel isolated and see themselves as stick-in-the-muds compared to frequent flyer, on-the-go salesman Jim and wife Harriet. Jim and Harriet go away on one of their many trips and, as per usual, leave their apartment key with their across-the-hall neighbors so Bill and Arlene can feed the cat and water the plants. Reasonable request; the courtesy and community of neighbors. However, this time across-the-hall neighbors Bill and Arlene break routine, their envy and jealousy runneth over. First time in the apartment, Bill raids the medicine chest and pockets Harriet's pills and then moves to the living room and helps himself to a couple of good swigs of Jim's Scotch. Next time in, Bill commits even more extreme invasions of privacy. And then Arlene takes her turn invading privacy, an invasion leading to ,ooh, a naughty discovery. The story ends with an unexpected twist, leaving the reader with no doubts as to the depth of the couple's alienation and sadness.

Vitamins - The narrator waxes floors during the night at the local hospital and lives with out-of-work Patti who, in her quest for self-respect via employment, resorts to selling vitamins door-to-door. After her initial success, Patti is promoted, given a crew of girls to oversee and an office in the local mall. But vitamins takes over Patti's life and she hates it, telling the narrator she even dreams of pitching vitamins to customers. Shella, one of the vitamin salesgirls loves Patti. Shella gets drunk and passes out at Patti's Christmas party. The next morning an injured Shella wants Patti to drive her to the hospital but the narrator won't let Shella wake up Patti. A cursing Shella walks out, never to be seen again. The story continues and we as readers are given a clear view of a world where the quest for love is never a happy one and people fall back into listening to their favorite sentimental music and hard drinking, lots of hard drinking, with dreams of escape to such places as Portland or Arizona. In Carver country what people are really trying to escape from is their own lives. The author captures their humanity and their despair in telling detail.
( )
1 vote GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
I liked it. It read it a long time ago, so I can't remember it in detail.
  rrbritt53 | Oct 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Raymond Carverprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gustafsson, KerstinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
We can never know what to want,
because, living only one life, we can neither
compare it with our previous lives
nor perfect it in our lives to come.

-Milan Kundera
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Dedication
To Tess Gallagher
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
This is the short story "Where I'm Calling From." Do not combine with the short story collection Where I'm Calling From
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679722319, Paperback)

The last story collection published during Carver's life (he died in 1988) contains most of his greatest hits from his earlier books, as well as seven stories that hadn't been collected up to that point. The breadth of the collection makes these 37 stories an extremely complete map of Carver territory, of a particular area of America and of the specific texture of the people Carver writes about -- their difficult attempts at survival in a world where happiness does not arrive wrapped up in neat packages but comes in far more peculiar parcels, if it comes at all.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:35 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A major collection of Carver's short stories, including seven new stories written shortly before the author's death in 1988. Spans twenty-five years of the author's writing career with both earlier works and original stories that explore betrayal, madness, and other reaches of human experience, in tales including "Intimacy" and "Boxes."… (more)

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.31)
0.5
1 7
1.5 1
2 7
2.5 5
3 52
3.5 11
4 167
4.5 31
5 251

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 136,361,657 books! | Top bar: Always visible