Thursday, December 03, 2009


Cathedral

By Raymond Carver

My first Carver is a set of short stories. Immaculate cameos, not traditional stories with beginnings, middles and twisty ends, these are almost still life pictures in word form. Scenes assembled in front of you carefully and meticulously, almost poetically. Carver is after all, also a poet.

There are a lot of drunks fighting addiction, in rehab and out of it, the women who love them and the women in whom there is no love left; there is looking for love, love dying, love dead; there is ‘a small, good thing in a time like this’ – freshly baked bread in a time of grief; stories of hope and slow revival, stories of moving on and help for moving on; stories of hopeless despair where ‘dreams are what you wake up from’. And then there is ‘Cathedral’, a wonderful beautiful story of a man describing a cathedral to a blind man by guiding his hand as he draws it out for him – an act that offers as much to the sighted person as it does to the blind man. Sheer poetry.

These are truly stories of the human condition, with all its warts and and all its glory. Love, longing, despair, hope – all is encompassed, in a style that is minimalistic, spare, intense. I will be re-visiting Carver again.

In the meantime, here is a poem he had inscribed on his gravestone:

Gravy
No other word will do. For that's what it was. Gravy.

Gravy, these past ten years.

Alive, sober, working, loving, and
being loved by a good woman. Eleven years

ago he was told he had six months to live

at the rate he was going. And he was going

nowhere but down. So he changed his ways

somehow. He quit drinking! And the rest?

After that it was all gravy, every minute

of it, up to and including when he was told about,

well, some things that were breaking down and
building up inside his head. "Don't weep for me,"

he said to his friends. "I'm a lucky man.
I've had ten years longer than I or anyone

expected. Pure Gravy. And don't forget it."


RAYMOND CARVER
(1938-1988)

I am a lucky woman.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You lucky woman, you!!