Signals – Raymond Carver.
Found my copy of ‘Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?’ on the shelf, while browsing through a couple of other Carver collections. Flicking through, I realised I hadn’t read the last two titles in this collection. ‘Signals’ is, on the surfce, a simple story about a couple going out to dinner, but Carver, as one might expect, invests every movement and line of dialogue with deep emotional undercurrents. He refuses to tell how the couple feel about each other but the reader is never in any doubt on this matter because of Carver’s ability to show us the characters.
The short vignette of the dinner in a fancy restaurant carries with it the momentum of the months and years preceding it without the reader having any idea of what exactly their shared past entailed. The beauty of this is each reader will fill in the blanks with examples close to their own experience, inhabiting the story themselves.
My favourite bit is when Wayne, after a being told to shut up by Caroline, ‘moved his feet under the table.’ Such an understated way to show poor Wayne’s agitation and discomfort. And never has a soup spoon been the focus of so much tension.
Reading Carver at is at once uplifting and an all too clear reminder of just how far I have to go before I get anywhere close to those heights. Brilliant stuff.