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Raymond Carver Biography

(1938–88), Put Yourself in My Shoes, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please, Furious Seasons

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American short-story writer and poet, born in Oregon, educated at Chico State College and Humboldt State College; he also attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His first volume of stories, Put Yourself in My Shoes (1974), was followed by Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (1976), Furious Seasons (1977), and What We Talk about when We Talk about Love (1981). Carver wrote mostly about the domestic lives of the working class, drawing on his own background and experiences. His characters are travelling salesmen, waitresses, and office workers; his preferred themes are failed or broken marriages, chronic drunkenness (Carver was himself an alcoholic), repressed violence, and the failure of attempts to communicate. His stories, often presented as monologues, are remarkable for their stylistic economy; detail, though photographic, is spare and description reduced to essentials. Carver's work reflects the influence of Hemingway in its simplicity and compression. He has been compared to Chekhov, described as a minimalist, and placed by perceptive critics in the wider category of American Realism with its undertow of sensationalism and violence. The stories of Cathedral (1983) display a new mellowness; the controlled use of the epiphanies absent from his earlier fictions emphasizes his belief in the ultimate triumph of good over evil. Fires (1983) is a miscellany of prose and verse. Where I'm Calling from (1988) gathers thirty stories from Carver's previous collections, and seven hitherto unpublished stories; the latter stories were also published as a separate volume, Elephant (1988). The impact of Carver's short career on the American literary scene can be gauged from the evident influence of his style on a new generation of American writers, including his own wife, Tess Gallagher, to whom some of his works are dedicated.

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