Some might insist that Raymond Carver's short stories prove hopelessly post-modern—and that may be. However, his work remains the first that ever pulled me out of the writing into a deep pondering of the reality he creates in junction with the kind of people that compose the society in which I live. For the first time in my reading career, I became a collaborator….
[...] She eventually stops talking about the yard sale because she cannot reach a conclusion that she senses she should. By no longer mentioning it, she relegates the incident to the back-shelf of her mind. Instead, she tells her friends, old guy gave it to us. And all these crappy records. Will you look at this (p. 10). She minimizes the experience because she does not quite know what to make of it. The story ends there because teetering on the brink of understanding something abstract cannot instigate concrete changes. [...]
[...] My realization comes in the form of the alienation effect, deriving from Roberto Brecht, meaning that Carver has created a critical distance from what I am reading. This is a means of arriving at collaboration between author and reader. DeBord claims, spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images” (DeBord Carver's story allows us to eaves drop on a typical social relation of friends sharing drinks and conversation around a table. Here, people and love are expressed as breakable, replaceable, and even exchangeable commodities. [...]
[...] Perhaps she is not given a name because Carver wants to dehumanize her as she seems incapable of expressing emotion about what could be conceived as a life-altering event. This ambiguity of character is further conveyed by his description the lamplight, there was something about their faces. It was nice or it was nasty. There was no telling.” (p. DeBord suggests spectacle's form and content are identically the total justification of the existing system's conditions and goals” (DeBord Carver's vague descriptions and language lend to the equally hazy content—afterall, in true nature of spectacle, the characters become intoxicated in the story. [...]
[...] His simplicity acts as the bridge between author and reader for a potential collaboration. The characters in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love dwell on their realizations for longer. Their epiphany comes gradually as they sit around a table, drinking and exchanging their personal definitions of love—again a passive situation, but made active through the dialogue. A foreshadowing of theme occurs when Laura says that she and Nick are happy and in love but Terri tells Laura to “wait awhile.” (p. 143). [...]
[...] At the end of the story, I realized that the characters remain seated not because they are passive, but rather, paralyzed by the end of their conversation. They have made realizations about the ephemeral nature of love that people in relationships usually ignore. Though they are all currently in love, they have managed to see love more objectively—from a distance. While I was actively partaking in the alienation effect as a reader, the characters were analyzing at a critical distance of their own. [...]
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