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Where I'm Calling From: Selected Stories Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 526 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (June 18, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679722319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679722311
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

From Publishers Weekly

The cool streamlined style of this modern master of the short story has spawned dozens of younger writers who seek to follow in Carver's footsteps. But where the Brat Pack frequently produces flat, unresonating fiction, Carver has the ability to render graceful prose from dreary, commonplace, scraping-the-bottom human misery. This collection consists of 30 stories selected from four previous volumes, and seven new tales. Appearing in order of original publication, they reflect Carver's developmentfrom 1963 to the present. We meet many of his characters just as something dear to them is slipping away. Jobs, cars, the affection of a spouse or child, the routine of lifeall can be lost. Even in the more upbeat stories, a narrator recalls a happy occasion that, in retrospect, marked a change for the worse, or a high point in a life since gone sour. In Carver's world, ashtrays overflow, wives are usually ex-, and drinkers are drunks. Seedy and dishonest characters are glimpsed in the process of once again doing the wrong thing. One of the new stories, "The Errand," which is in part an account of Chekhov's death, is offered as a tip of the hat to the great short story writer. Even here, with more affecting and finished prose than ever before, Carver's rendering gives us all the intimacy of a medical chart. Aptly named, he is a carver of flesh from the bone. Paperback rights to Vintage.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

Carver writes complex stories in simple sentences.
Dolan Buckley
In these, his best stories, you can feel the happiness, love, or (most often) deep sadness in the characters' hearts.
Al Kihano
"Where I'm Calling From" is a selection of some of Raymond Carver's best short stories.
Il'ja

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Rocco Dormarunno on October 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
People who consider Raymond Carver to be a strictly minimalist writer should really read this book from cover to cover. What they will discover is a career on the cusp of change, just before the author's life was tragically cut short. The stories are presented in chronological order. The opening dozen stories or so are classics of minimalist style which reaches its peak with the devestating 3-page story "Little Things" in which a child is literally torn apart by its parents divorce.
But Carver's tone and style changes in the stories that follow. "What We Talk About When We Talk about Love" and the gut-wrenching "So Much Water So Close To Home" take on a new level of story-telling where Carver gives us a more intimate look at his characters. The last two of the previously published stories are nothing like the earlier stories. In "Cathedral", a typical Carver married man--distant, cynical, and slightly smug--makes surprising contact with another human being, presumably for the first time, in the most unlikely of situations. It is almost a salvation. "A Good Small Thing" (which was a revision of an earlier story called "Scotty") is nothing less than a masterpiece. In Carver's earlier career, this story would have ended bitterly and, perhaps, indifferently. Instead, this story ends up with an astonishing flavor of hope, forgiveness, and even closure. The seven "New Stories" at the collection's end just drive home the fact that Carver was really moving forward or at least in a new direction. I defy anyone to read "Intimacy" or "Elephant" and say, "Typical minimalism." I would place a heavy bet that the reader would reply the same way I did, "Damn! Damn! Can you imagine what he'd be writing if he were still with us?"
Damn.
Rocco Dormarunno, Author of The Five Points
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Doug Vaughn HALL OF FAME on January 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Raymond Carver is unique among contemporary American men of letters in that he is known almost exclusively for his short stories. Though he published other books, most notably collections of his poetry, his real genius was in the abbriviated summation of ordinary human experience in the short prose form.
This volume is a great introduction to Carver's stories because it represents a selection of his best work from every phase of his career. It is clear from the first story that his special gift is in somehow making a slice of life universal. His stories have hardly any plot and character is revealed rather than described. The essense of his character's lives are distilled into a few scenes wherein the reader can grasp a universe of unspoken meanings. The simplest things in Carver's hands take on a depth of meaning and a resonance that tends to haunt one long after the story is read. There is no overt artifice employed; the stories are deceptively simple. Yet all of these stories, like good poems, pack lots of meaning into a compressed form. His stories are not so much 'about' love, grief, deception, failure, longing and hatred as they are captured moments that embody these elements of the human condition and allow us to really feel what the characters feel. The very lack of exposition and detailed context is part of what makes these moments so powerful. Like a Rorschach ink blot, the short scenes depicted can call forth from each reader a variety of different interpretations and meanings. That is perhaps what is really great about these stories. Every reader can agree on the overt content, but no two are likely to agree about what they really mean, despite almost everyone having a strong emotional response to them. This is unique and superior writing that no lover of literature should miss.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By M. JEFFREY MCMAHON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Raymond Carver has been compared, rightly, to Chekhov because of his ability to absorb the reader in a "small" story and say something profound about the human condition. Absent in Carver's stories are stereotypical characters. For example, in "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," we read a story about a heart surgeon, Mel McGuiness, who is obsessed with preaching the virutes of absolute love to his wife and two friends, another couple. As we read the story, we see evidence that Mel is the embodiment of the absence of love. He is imperious, bullying, dogmatic, control-obsessed, fearful of life. Yet Carver doesn't allow us to dismiss Mel so easily. As Mel pontificates on love and gets more and more drunk, we are afforded glimpses of Mel's profound wisdom, which shows that there are two Mels, a tyrant and a vulnerable searcher of truth, that are warring against each other. Mel, the searcher of truth, knows there is a more profound, permanent love than merely carnal or erotic passion. At one point in the story, he confesses, in a moment of drunkenness, that he is completely ignorant of life. We sympathize with Mel's passion for "ultimate love," yet we are at the same time appalled at Mel's bullying and vanity.
Mel's character is indicative of the kind of complexities and contradictions that Carver dramatizes in his very readable stories.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By j. on September 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Where I'm Calling From" is basically Raymond Carver's "Greatest Hits" book, with a touch of never-released material also. All his famous stories are in here, and the book will satisfy hardcore Carver fans, general short story enthusiasts, and anyone looking for accessable fiction. Carver writes in a very original style, using a candor and frankness that "tells it like it is." His stories are primarily case studies of blue collar Americans, whether they be dealing with love, loss, or the boredom of manual labor jobs. Carver himself was a rough-and-tough individual, preferring life in the Northwestern wilderness to the highbrow publishing epicenters of New York or Chicago.

Raymond Carver basically brought life back to the short story genre in the 1980s. It had slowly fallen out of popularity as Ernest Hemingway and John Cheever's careers faded. This book shows why the American public as well as scholars fell in love with Carver's literary voice. He had a true gift and understanding of the craft, and those who knew him said he was the best "people watcher" they had ever met. Raymond Carver remains one of the standards, idolized by thousands of aspiring writers and immitated (unfortunately) more often than not.
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