Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? – Raymond Carver

Another quality bit of prose fiction from the American master. Again he manages to evoke perfectly that moment in an ordinary life when everything goes down the pan. Ralph’s tiny odyssey through the streets of the town as he struggles to come to terms with his wife’s infidelity has an epic quality in contrast to the mundanity of his surroundings.

Two lines that have stuck with me since reading it this morning:

‘He understood things had been done. He did not understand what things were now to be done.’

Simple. Powerful.

The other thing that struck me with this story is the lengthy amble into the meat and potatos of the narrative. I can’t help thinking, if this story were submitted by an unknown writer, an editor in 2010 would either reject it or require the opening be trimmed as redundant, better dealt with in short flashback later in the story. Not that doing so would necessarily be right for this story, but all the current ‘teaching’ of creative writing points to getting into the story straight way, which this doesn’t. Are we getting to the point where Carver is no longer the most minimalist of short fiction prose writers?