Dirty Realist

Michael Foley

  • Fires: Essays, Poems, Stories by Raymond Carver
    Harvill, 204 pp, £8.95, April 1985, ISBN 0 00 271243 1
  • The Stories of Raymond Carver
    Picador, 447 pp, £3.50, May 1985, ISBN 0 330 28552 1

Raymond Carver is a typically American hero, a kind of literary Rocky – janitor, delivery man, sawmill operator, servicestation attendant, an uneducated alcoholic no-hoper who rises to Major Writer status and the Professorship of English at Syracuse University. Most writers would give a right arm for such authentic redneck credentials and one can be sure that most funky jobs listed on blurbs were only held for a couple of weeks during summer vacations. One can tell Carver is genuine because he makes nothing of it. It is the professorship that goes on the dust-jackets and not the many jobs, which are mentioned dismissively, in passing, in one of the essays in Fires.

The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in

[*] Hogarth published Morte D’Urban (336 pp., £3.95, 0 7012 0586 5) and Prince of Darkness, and Other Stories (228 pp., £3.95, 0 7012 0585 7) on 4 April. Both are introduced by Mary Gordon.