Minimalism by Raymond Carver

Topics: Short story, Fiction, Communication Pages: 8 (3009 words) Published: May 20, 2012
Literary Criticism
Minimalism by Raymond Carver

English 210
P. Fishman
Research Paper
Literary Criticism on Minimalism by Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver was a master of the short story during the mid nineteenth century due to his unique minimalistic style. Carver has his own artistic signature when it comes to writing, he tells his stories using the least amount of words possible to get a point across. This method leads to a creative piece of literature with strategically placed vocabulary to stimulate hidden meaning and different forms of communication throughout the plots as shown in “The Bath”, “A Small, Good Thing” and “Cathedral”. Carver’s use of minimalism was an intelligent way to allow readers to make their own personal connections and analogies of hidden messages throughout his stories. Minimalistic writing is when less means more. Many Critics refer to Raymond Carver as one of the greatest practitioners of American short stories due to the complexity of his omissive style. In the critical analysis “Narrowed Voice: Minimalism by Raymond Carver”, the author Michael Trussler discusses the significance and mechanics of minimalistic writing in Raymond Carvers short stories. Minimalism is often used in short stories because they provide a perfect foundation for this unique writing style. The goal of a minimalistic writer is to squeeze as much detail and meaning into a story with the least words possible. Carver leaves out words that are not necessary to get his point across, which limits the reader’s ability to interoperate the significance and meaning throughout the text. Carver’s stories are abrupt and include moments of silence, which can cause versatile interpretations depending on the individual reader. This is how minimalism is designed to work; some fragments of a story are not as straight forward as others, making Raymond Carvers work difficult to understand. Difficulty understanding Carver’s stories is also influenced from the lack of previous background details on characters and settings of the storyline. If previous events are mentioned at all, they offer no aid for interpretation of the present plot. The lack of background detail is a strategic example of how Carver incorporates minimalism to instigate the reader to make his or her own accusations on the final outcome of specific situations taking place between the characters in the story plot. Without background detail s it’s difficult to connect with certain characters because the reader doesn’t know who they really are or where they come from. The technique of minimalism and Raymond Carvers works are further criticized in “Faces in the Mirror: Raymond Carver and the Intricacies of Looking” by Christof Becker. The critical analysis discusses how the highly condensed sentences influence the use of verbal and non-verbal communication in the stories. The verbal communication that takes place between the characters is based off realistic events that can very likely occur in real life. This realism connects to the reader making them feel as if they are at eye level communication, where the reader feels they are in the story communicating with the narrator one on one. The verbal communication that is present within the stories is dialogued in a serious and abrupt tone, which complements the realistic setting and minimalistic intentions. Compressed sentences used in this vague manner can be deceiving because they appear to be saying very littler verbally, but really they are full of non-verbal forms of communication. Non-verbal communication is crucial in creating highly detailed imagery that provides great informative visualization of character intentions. An abundance of non-verbal communication means that Carver’s characters have an inability to outwardly express themselves, forcing them to observe more than...

Cited: Trussler, Michael. “Narrowed Voice: Minimalism and Raymond Carver.” Studies in Short Fiction (1994): 1-12. Proquest Research Library. Web. 07 Nov. 2011 <>.
Decker, Christof. “Faces in the Mirror: Raymond Carver and the intricacies of looking” Literature Resource Center. Gale, 2004. Web. 07 20011. <>.
Aubrey, Bryan. “Critical Essay on A Small Good Thing.” Short Stories for Students. Ed. Anne Marie Hacht. Vol. 23. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 Nov. 2011. <>.
Charters, Ann & Samuel Charters. Literature And its Writers, Fifth Edition, Bedford/St. Martins, Boston, 2010.
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