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Short Cuts: Selected Stories Paperback – September 14, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 157 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (September 14, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679748644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679748649
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A movie tie-in edition to the brilliant new film by Robert Altman, based on these nine stories by Carver, "one of the great short story writers of our time--of any time" (Philadelphia Inquirer).

More About the Author

Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, in 1938. His father was a saw-mill worker and his mother was a waitress and clerk. He married early and for years writing had to come second to earning a living for his young family. Despite, small-press publication, it was not until Will You Please Be Quiet Please? appeared in 1976 that his work began to reach a wider audience. This was the year in which he gave up alcohol, which had contributed to the collapse of his marriage. In 1977 he met the writer Tess Gallagher, with whom he shared the last eleven years of his life. During this prolific period he wrote three collections of stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Cathedral and Elephant. Fires, a collection of essays, poems and stories, appeared in 1985, followed by three further collections of poetry. In 1988 he completed the poetry collection A New Path to the Waterfall.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
I was truly on the edge of my seat during these stories.
Bethanie Frank
The emotional charge that comes from Carver's careful observation takes his writing to the level of masterpiece literature.
Monique Parker
This short, digestible collection of a handful of Carver's stories makes a good introduction to his work.
J. Christmas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "mambodog" on February 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Carver explores the neurotic undercurrents of urban dwellers. His characters are typically immersed in the Everyday where the repetitive force of the mundane has them mired in the mechanics of living: House-sitting, birthday parties, beer buddy fishing trips, boredom, initiation of an affair, two pals cruising, looking for a thrill. From these commonplace events, Carver produces stories that are pristine, using language scrubbed clean of verbal theatrics-no show off words, no eccentric constructions - just prose as clean and as spare as Hemingway's and honed dialogue that is simple, but in the way that we say Mozart is simple.
The story beneath the undercurrents is what makes Carver so addictive. He describes urges, images, and muted longings that you have always felt, but never could express in words-until now.
Take the story "So Much Water So Close To Home." A group of men go on a beer-bash fishing trip. Early into their trip, they discover the body of a nude woman floating face down in the river. The beer buddies figure to keep fishing! Why ruin a good fishing trip? She's dead already, what harm? After all, they're going to notify the authorities, only later, so as not to interrupt having a good time. The beer-induced logic is funny as hell, but the story's neurotic undercurrent explores sloth, inaction and soulless indifference, characters whose actions can only be sanctified after the factors of humanity and decency have been removed from the equation. The wife of one of the beer buddies serves as the story's conscious. When she discovers that her husband drank and fished while a dead body floated downstream, she is appalled, alarmed. To her every accusation of "What kind of man are you to have done this?
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
Robert Altman made a wonderful film in the 90s based on 9 short stories published by famous American short story writer Raymond Carver. The film was entitled "Short Cuts" and this publication brings together these 9 stories (including a poem) which were culled from several original Carver publications. The book opens with an introduction by Altman who confesses to taking small liberties with Carver's stories and its characters but without compromising their integrity. Those who have seen the movie will concede that the changes in fact give the entity a coherence that would otherwise be missing. But as a collection of short stories. they can and should be read as standalones. Carver is a master of social commentary, using anecdotes of casual human behaviour to capture the absurdity of modern American life. These candid snapshots may not conform with the dictates of conventional fictional writing in that they may lack a beginning, distinct plot development and a neat ending. Often it isn't even the events that trigger off the response of the characters that are significant but the fact that they respond in a certain way that is interesting from the view point of understanding human behaviour. Carver seems to be saying that sometimes the strange things that happen to us are all due to chance and that like it or not, we need to factor chance into the equation of living. As a short story writer, Carver is exceptional. He has that rare ability to communicate some essential truth about the human condition without using melodrama or any of the other techniques frequently used by lesser writers to captivate and sustain our interest. The 9 stories in this collection are individually separate entities which exist in their own right. No character appears anywhere but in the story he originates from.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Monique Parker on September 23, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Carver portrays the banal, mundane, and unknown of life in his exquisite collection of short stories. It is the spouse who after twenty-five years of the same monotonous routine, breaks out and acts in ways that are inconsistent. Showing the psychological buildup of internal angst and tension is what Carver has mastered. He has a way exposing the hidden desire and passion that stem from the dark corners of the psyche. According to Joseph Campbell, many people are uncomfortable reading these types of stories.

The emotional charge that comes from Carver's careful observation takes his writing to the level of masterpiece literature. The narrative observatory techniques in the third person are detached and objective. A few of Carver's stories are written in first person, which give him an opportunity to get inside his protagonist, but even here, Carver chooses to stay at a distance, allowing the reader to dally in ambiguity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Byrd on June 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Raymond Carver's stories are far from universally appealing - my wife hates his style - yet I find many of his stories to be extremely poignant and affecting. For whatever reason, I seem to be very open to the minimalist method he uses to tell these vignettes, or at least I find it very effective at transmitting what I believe to be Carver's aims.

The stories in 'Short Cuts', as well as his other collections, are about ordinary people doing ordinary things. There is no weirdness for weirdness sake, no post-modern literary games; Carver examines the absolute commonplace with a microscope. To anyone not familiar with his stories (and even to some that are), one might wonder what possible value that could hold. Yet along with the everyday, there is also some small event that occurs during the story, sometimes something as small as a lost key or as large as stumbling upon a dead body; but something that causes one character to look at their wife or husband and really see them as a person, and not just as extras in their own story. Whether these characters come to know each other in positive or negative ways isn't as important as the idea that they are no longer isolated within themselves - willingly or not they are confronted with the fact that they are part of the rest of humanity.

Those are the ideas that I take away from his stories at least. Some stories seem to communicate this better than others, and while the selection included in 'Short Cuts' still reflects what I like about Carver, I found this collection inferior to 'Cathedral', the other book of his stories that I've read.
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