The 150-word Review: There’s a scene in Noah Baumbach’s “Kicking and Screaming.” Several students in a writing workshop critique the main character’s short story with a rash of clichés. The topper is one student who describes the prose “as the bastard child of Raymond Carver,” which elicits a roll of the eyes from the professor. It’s my favorite scene in the movie.
It’s funny because every aspiring writer who’s attempted to write a short story since the 80’s owes a debt to Carver, whether they know it or not. Carver championed a minimalist style focusing on the silent pains of everyday people. Where I’m Calling From is a compilation featuring his most famous stories, including the title story, about a man’s stay in a rehab facility over the New Year’s holiday. My favorite is “Cathedral,” about a jealous husband and blind dinner guest who connect in a scene of remarkable simplicity and grace.
You’d like this book if you’re a fan of: plain-spoken endurance, marital doldrums, chimney sweeps, waitresses, bartenders, and barbers, Hemingway and Chekhov, “intensity and brevity,” and the short story form.
Clavinism (stuff that will not make you look cool in a bar): Interesting fact Norm… Robert Altman’s 1993 film, “Short Cuts,” is based on nine short stories and one poem by Raymond Carver.