• Carmen Milligan

And I call myself a reader?! Who is Raymond Carver?!

I was looking at the literary calendar the other day, and I saw this entry for June 2: Raymond Carver quits drinking, 1977.

Who the hell is Raymond Carver and how does he merit getting on the literary calendar?


Upon a quick search, I find the words, "He is considered to be amongst America's greatest writers."


Well, there you have it. I have never heard of this man, and he is considered to be amongst America's greatest writers. This makes me feel like a counterfeit reader. A sham. A liar-liar-pants-on-fire.


I don't think I should be familiar with every writer who ever lived, but surely I should have heard of this man, one of America's greatest writers. Let's investigate.


What did he write: Short stories and poetry. Well, that's my first strike. I really don't read many short stories, and hardly ever choose poetry. Another quick search brought up the title of a movie that I recognized, but hadn't seen, "Birdman", starring Michael Keaton. I remembered Keaton winning the Golden Globe for lead actor in that movie.


Side note: Search for a video of the Golden Globe acceptance speech by Keaton. It is one of the sweetest ones I have seen.


The movie was based on a short story by Carver, "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)". I remembered the title because I am a sucker for clever titles.


The movie is about a man who wants to put on a production of one of Carver's short stories, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love". So, I searched on that. It's the last story in a collection of short stories by the same title. The overall gist of the story, it seems to be, in two couples talking about what they think love is.


But, I'm getting off-track. I consider myself a pretty well-read person. You know, a READER. And, when I read "one of America's greatest writers" about someone of whom I have never heard. Well, it gives me pause. You know what else gives me pause? I have no desire to read his work.


<sigh> I need to be a little less pedantic about this, and just rest in the fact that I have just put James Baldwin, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Alice Munroe on my list.

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