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.

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[*] 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.