Monday, December 5, 2011

More Talk About Raymond Carver

Nathan Englander, in an interview about his new story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank," with an interesting comment about the differing versions of Raymond Carver's stories—the ones with and without the editorial cuts of Gordon Lish—which I wrote about here and here:

I did follow the debate, but from afar, taking it in with a sidelong I’m-already-decided kind of glance. I’m a compulsive re-drafter, and I’m pretty religious about the idea that in the end a story will find its final true form, and when it has found that form, that’s what the story was meant (in some fated way) to be. I did not read “Beginners,” but I do remember—and this is probably when I was studying in Iowa—reading “The Bath” after reading “A Small Good Thing,” Carver’s original exploration of the story. I just see them as two different works. They’re not in conflict to me. “A Small Good Thing” with its “Small Good Thing” ending cut, is a totally different experience. It’s not a different version of the same story, it’s a different story. I’d say the same feeling would apply to the other stories of Carver’s which have also been published in what Tess Gallagher calls, in The New Yorker article you reference, their “true, original” form. Simply, anything that puts more Carver stories into the universe, makes for a better (if more depressing) universe.


margherio said...

A Small Good Thing is one probably my most vividly remembered short stories from high school. I don't remember who taught it but 'Where I'm Calling From' remains my favorite short story collection. I pick it up from time to time and it still moves me into a very reflective place. Also, after picking it off the shelf just now it appears I have Steve Patton's copy....oops.

framiko said...

That's hilarious. You know, I have Steve Patton's copy of the Collected Stories of Frank O'Connor. But I legitimately bought it off him.

Were we both in Joe Gavin's short story class? That's where I first read Carver.