Posted by: pendrops | January 23, 2008

thank you, raymond carver (or what one doubting writer would say to another)


“At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing – a sunset or an old shoe – in absolute and simple amazement.”
Raymond Carver

I have loved you since my first introduction, freshman year of college, some eleven years ago. I loved Cathedrals and your many commas, your abrupt periods, your dense words, your lengthy characters sprawled on short pages, your subtle way of proving that brilliant writing isn’t all Hemingway, James and Faulkner (all of which I never liked anyway).

And I loved you when I met you again briefly – always briefly – when I happened upon What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, many years later, my second go-around in higher education. Your consistency, your immediacy, your sparseness and weight, the simple way you hinted at necessary beauty dancing with reality.

And I loved you again, today, loved you very much in fact, because you – you, genius, you (of all people) – understand why I can’t, don’t, won’t write so many days, showing up to the desk as I might only to leave drained and empty-handed. Understand why this may be the wrong time for the right thing. And, nevertheless, understand why I must write.

And that is because, as you say, we will be “moved off the peg just a little from where we were before. Our body temperature will have gone up, or down, by a degree. Then, breathing evenly and steadily once more, we’ll collect ourselves, writers and readers alike, get up, ‘created of warm blood and nerves’ as a Chekhov character puts it, and go on to the next thing: Life. Always life.”

So, thank you, Raymond Carver, for one- and two-word sentences, for fragments, for doing what you had to do – writing included. And for understanding. You have influenced me – then & today – more than I can say. Indeed.



  1. great quote at the beginning. it constantly amazes me how people don’t stop to notice the truly simple, creative, and beautiful things in life… which is sometimes just an old shoe.

  2. A wonderful tribute.

    Writing is often a struggle, and struggle is what produces great writing.

    People on easy street, with their lives all figured out and packaged in a pretty little box, can’t write worth a shit.

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