Book Review: Will You Please Be Quiet Please?
This week, we go back to 1976. Raymond Carver is a master of the short story, and discovering him was one of my favorite moments as a reader. His ability to write about the mundane facets of everyday life and turn it into something grossly engaging is second to none. However, Carver's minimalist style is an acquired taste. Fast paced life may keep some readers from diving into a giant novel that could take them months to complete. Carver's stories are petite, engaging, and keep you thinking long after they are finished.
Seinfeld was the show about nothing. These stories are the literary working class equivalent. "Fat" is about a fat customer at a restaurant, and how the staff deals with him. "Neighbors" is about a bunch of noisy neighbors apartment sitting. These stories deal with fragile relationships, alcohol and substance abuse, trust, and the working class family dynamic. "Are These Actual Miles?" and "The Student's Wife" are brilliant examples of a story unfolding more in mind than on the page. "Nobody Said Anything" is a fantastic coming of age tale all set in one afternoon. There isn't a lot to say about these stories without underselling them. They wouldn't make for an exciting movie trailer, but as a fan of character-driven fiction, I found every single one of them worth reading.
Carver brilliantly gives brief snapshots of several different characters without leaving the reader confused. However different each character appears to be, they all exist in Carver's bleak middle-class world. His ability to write relatable characters in true to life situations makes this collection very engaging. Everyone can relate to love, loss, addiction, and death. Carver never gets too explicit, but that is what makes it so fantastic. His ability to give you just enough to fill in the blanks is something I strive for as a writer myself.
The idea of domestic fiction never sounded appealing to me. Regardless of the literary merit, I am a genre fiction lover at the core. Carver gave me a glimpse into real literature for the first time. He made me enjoy Hemingway and helped me push my boundaries. Another fantastic talent who left us way too early. Do yourself a favor, and pick up one of the greatest short-story masters as soon as possible.