Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Raymond Carver's "Cathedral"

Full text of Raymond Carver's "Cathedral"

Raymond Carver 1984

"No tricks." He says. "Period. I hate tricks." Experimentation, as Carver goes on to say, is too often "a licence to be careless, silly or imitative."

Carver's 1981 essay "On Writing".
Get in, get out. Don't linger. Go on. It could be that I lost any great ambitions at about the same time, in my late 20's. If I did, I think it was good it happened. Ambition and a little luck are good things for a writer to have going for him. Too much ambition and bad luck, or no luck at all, can be killing. There has to be talent.

Paris Review Interview - excerpt from introduction:

           Carver works in a large room on the top floor. The surface of the long oak desk is clear; his typewriter is set to the side, on an L-shaped wing. There are no knicknacks, charms, or toys of any kind on Carver's desk. He is not a collector or a man prone to mementos and nostalgia. Occasionally, one manila folder lies on the oak desk, containing the story currently in the process of revision. His files are well in order. He can extract a story and all its previous versions at a moment's notice. The walls of the study are painted white like the rest of the house, and, like the rest of the house, they are mostly bare. Through a high rectangular window above Carver's desk, light filters into the room in slanted beams, like light from high church windows.
            Carver is a large man who wears simple clothes—flannel shirts, khakis or jeans. He seems to live and dress as the characters in his stories live and dress. For someone of his size, he has a remarkably low and indistinct voice; we found ourselves bending closer every few minutes to catch his words and asking the irritating “What, what?”

When asked why he wanted to be a writer,  he replies:

I wrote a longish thing about the fish that got away, or the fish I caught, one or the other, and asked my mother if she would type it up for me. She couldn't type, but she did go rent a typewriter, bless her heart, and between the two of us, we typed it up in some terrible fashion and sent it out. I remember there were two addresses on the masthead of the outdoors magazine; so we sent it to the office closest to us, to Boulder, Colorado, the circulation department. The piece came back, finally, but that was fine. It had gone out in the world, that manuscript—it had been places. Somebody had read it besides my mother, or so I hoped anyway.

Carver experiences a thrill in sending his writing out into the world - to an audience, a reader, beyond his mother. To move the world through writing can be empowering and exhilarating.

Documentary on Raymond Carver:

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