30 August 2012

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver

I'm planning the syllabus for an introductory lit class I'm teaching that will include a unit on short stories, so I'm reading around trying to find some good ones. "Give 'em some Raymond Carver," says my friend Jonathan. "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, everyone will love that book. It's amazing." I have to admit, I was kind of dubious, but I checked it out of the library - and devoured it. My god. It really is incredible. Absolutely riveting. I've read some Carver here and there in my life, but this collection hit me like a freight train. It's taut, melodic, and quietly devastating in a strangely pleasurable way. Highly recommended.

PS - If you're wondering, I will be including the two version he wrote of one story, "Popular Mechanics," in the syllabus of that class - it's only two pages, and the subtle differences between the two versions are a good discussion point. I also decided to include the title story in my other class as an accompaniment to Plato's Symposium. I think it'll work well. I generally love pairing ancient texts with modern works (we're doing Beowulf and Grendel in the other class, for instance) and trying to think through their different modes of representation, I think it's a great exercise. 

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