From Publishers Weekly
He has been called a chronicler of blue-collar despair. He led a relatively private life, much of it spent trying to raise cash via odd jobs and the writing-conference circuit, and died from the cancerous effects of excessive drinking and smoking. Raymond Carver (1938–1988) is a fascinating figure more for what went on in his imagination, as it registered the dynamics of couples' relationships amid the counterculture, than for his messy life. He came from the lower-middle class of Yakima, Wash., and was a father before he turned 21. Maryann Burk, his first wife, had her own measure of success as a memoirist, but as the Carvers' lives came to resemble his stories, they divorced. Carver soon found his second great love, Tess Gallagher. It's ironic that the master of the minimalist short story has his own life recounted in such whopping detail by short story writer and essayist Sklenicka. Earnest and carefully researched, this biography interestingly recounts Carver's working relationship with editor Gordon Lish and other publishing figures. But the writing is most compelling in an epilogue that highlights posthumous legal disputes showing Gallagher maintaining an iron grip on Carver's growing legacy and reputation. (Nov.)
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"Raymond Carver's stories and poems are still very much alive, and thanks to Carol Sklenicka's biography, Ray the writer comes to life again. This is a remarkable book, very thorough and deeply moving. I knew Ray, and now I know him better than ever." -- Richard Cortez Day, author of When in Florence
and Something for the Journey
"If his stories, told in a clipped, brusque voice, help us better understand life in all its loveliness and anguish, then this biography does the same for the man behind them, only with a shout -- full-throated with the voices of those who knew him. Meticulously researched, unflinchingly honest, and always compelling. What we talk about when we talk about Carver will forever be defined by this poignant monument of a book." -- Benjamin Percy, author of Refresh, Refresh
and The Language of Elk