February 12, 2004

Call If You Need Me
Raymond Carver

We Need You More Than Ever -- Raymond Carver stories are Edward Hopper paintings. In both, ordinary men and women are frozen in time and often in place, struggling to choose or reeling from the choices they've made. This "new" story, appearing in Granta 68, is a knockout, featuring Carver's signature ability to evoke overpowering emotion with bleak plainess and subtle tones. I'm one of the legions who were inspired by Carver to try being a subtle writer like him, to try emulating his complicated simplicity and the bet-you-almost-missed-it ways in which his stories turn. But in my own writing, regrettably though not unexpectedly, I've most often missed the mark. For me, then, "Call If You Need Me" is a lighthouse beacon, sweeping across the rough seas of today's writing, signaling, "This way, this way -- yes, come."


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