Friday, April 22, 2011


Raymond Carver

Vintage, 2010

«Beginners» is a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver, which was released in its original form, as it is conceived by the author. Earlier this book was known as «What We Talk About When We Talk About Love» and was a collection of the same stories, but in the editing of Gordon Lish, who is credited as a discoverer of Carver as a writer. In the book there are some notes which briefly give the basic differences in the stories between the versions of Carver and Lish. Such comparisons with a limited amount of space in the book do not give a complete picture: to compare the original version and edition of Lish is only possible if you have before yourself the full versions of stories. So to say what version is "better" is difficult; moreover, both have remained in the literary memory. And that's a matter of academics, to compare and comment. The reader, of course, will simply enjoy reading.

And there is a lot of enjoyable stuff here. Carver is a phenomenal storyteller, often not even at the level of plot, not on a level as something happens or has happened, probably on a level as something never happened. Carver primarily is a storyteller on the level of feelings and emotions (again - not shown feelings and emotions), and the story serves as a sort of escalator.

Beginners, this is all the characters of Carver’s stories. They are not new to life, these people are already with life experience, but they are all beginners to the level of feelings. And in those stories that the author tells, his characters as if for the first time are experiencing real feelings. And often from such an emotional shock - resulting, in general, for the first time - they are lost, not knowing how to go on.

First-class writer, first-class collection.

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