Fires: by Raymond Carver

I learned some things along the way. One of the things I learned is that I had to bend or else break. And I also learned that it is possible to bend and break at the same time.

Isak Dinesen said that she wrote a little every day, without hope and without despair. Someday I’ll put that on a three-by-five card and tape it to the wall beside my desk.

I have a three-by -five up there with this fragment of a sentence from a story by Chekhov: “… and suddenly everything became clear to him.” I find these words filled with wonder and possibility. I love their simple clarity, and the hint of revelation that’s implied.
It’s possible… to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things … with immense, even startling power…That’s the kind of writing that interests me.

The above are all quotations from Carver’s essays.
“Fires” is an interesting collection of work by Raymond Carver, consisting of essays, poems and stories. The essays in particular I found really interesting, and are a fascinating insight into his method of writing, and the influences on his writing. A memoir of his father “My Father’s Life”, is poignant with the regret of things left unsaid. The title essay “Fires” was really meaningful for me, because in it he names his children as the biggest influence on his writing.

His responsibilities as a father were such, and the menial work he was forced to do was so time consuming that it left little time for writing. Writing a novel was an impossible dream, so he decided to specialise in short stories that could be written in one or two nights, and then refined. As Carver states in one essay on the crafting of his stories: “Get in, get out. Don’t linger.” The rest as they say, is history.

Maybe it’s for Carver aficionados only, but I really enjoyed this book. 4⭐️

This edition published by Vintage in 2009. Original publication 1988.


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