Professor Eric Maxson
24, April 2010
Raymond Carver was a short story writer who was born in the Pacific Northwest. He was a textbook editor, lecturer and teacher while writing. His stories featured some of his trademarks of, alcohol, poverty, and people in real life situations. Carver was influenced to write about these trademarks through experiences he had lived and influences that were brought upon him, like alcoholism and divorce. Raymond Carver and his father were alcoholics and had both been divorced and remarried through out their lives which is why alcohol, divorce, and fading love are some of the biggest themes he incorporates in his stories. Raymond Carver also expresses puzzlement about the odd and battered condition of love in his profound themes. Specifically in his two short stories, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” and “Popular Mechanics.”
As a writer Carver always tried to add some aspect of intensity or menace in his work. He was known as a literary minimalist because he likes to shorten sentences by removing words or phrases. This writing technique he uses creates a sense of uncertainty in the sentences and leaves the reader guessing. Minimalist writers like Carver, won’t tell you exactly what to think through their diction, instead, they leave their work open ended so the reader can participate in the interpretation of the story and fill in the blank themselves. Carver even says in one of his books called “Fires”: “I like it when there is some sense of menace in short stories.... there has to be a tension, a sense that something is imminent....” ( Fires 17).
Carver creates that state of uncertainty in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” when the four characters are conversing amongst each other about love. Terri and Mel tell stories about their past marriages. Mel had a very demanding wife while Terri was involved with a guy that abused her. The conversation in the...