Where I’m Calling From
Carver writes haunting stories, and in many ways they are sort of mundane horror tales, as in the horrors of everyday life and everyday troubles and marital strife and whatnot. They are stories of anxiety and depression and the characters feeling like they just can’t take it anymore, whatever that “it” may be.
Reading an entire volume of 30 or so of these stories is difficult, so I’d recommend sprinkling two to five stories in between novels or other reading ventures. But still, the man’s skill is undeniable, and some of the stories stay with you for a long time afterward.
Some of the most memorable for me were the first two, “Nobody Said Anything” and “Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes,” along with “What Do You Do in San Francisco?”, “Neighbors,” “Gazebo,” “Chef’s House,” and “Elephant.” Two of his best stories, in my opinion, are two of the most optimistic, the uplifting “Fever” and the tragic but hopeful “A Small, Good Thing.” And perhaps the most fascinating is the last story, “Errand,” a radical departure for Carver of historical fiction concerning the death of Chekhov.
In sum, great stuff, but hard to handle for a long sitting.