Author Raymond Carver was born in 1938 and is a well-known American writer and poet. He died at the age of 50. 5 years later, in 1993, a collection of some of his short stories were put together in "Short Cuts." The first short story is called "Neighbors".
Here we meet Bill and Arlene Miller, who seem to be having a crisis in their marriage. They are somewhat jealous of the life of their neighbors, who are travelling and having fun all the time, while Bill and Arlene are usually just working. When the story begins, the neighbors, called The Stones, are about to leave for a 10 day vacation, and The Millers have agreed to look after their house and cat. Shortly after, Bill starts spending more and more of his time at The Stones' place, and he even starts taking their prescription pills, drinking their booze, wearing their clothes and generally they both try to live the lives of their neighbors. Arlene too are spending more and more time at The Stones´ place, though it is not exactly described what she is doing, other than looking through their stuff and finding pictures. When they are finally locked out of the apartment by mistake, they try to soothe each other and the story ends.
Raymond Carver wrote this story in a way that leaves the reader unsure whether to laugh or to feel worried about The Millers desperate try to be something they are not. In his very first sentence of the story, he tells us:
"Bill and Arlene were a happy couple."
Carver shows the reader from the very start that something is not right, by using the word "were". Part of the reason why it is hard to tell whether we should be laughing or worrying, is because the story is told in a 3rd person narration and a "fly-on-the-wall" principle, which means we are only aware of the actions and conversations.
"He put on a black and white checkered skirt and tried to zip it up. He put on a burgundy blouse that buttoned up the front. He considered her shoes, but understood they