Outstanding, in-depth scholarship by renowned literary critics; great starting point for students seeking an introduction to Carver and the critical discussions surrounding his work.
Raymond Carver made the short story a viable literary form; since Carver, short-story collections became a marketable commodity in the book trade. Both as a model and as a teacher, he had such an influence on younger fiction writers that author Jay McInerney could truthfully say (alluding to a famous statement that Fyodor Dostoevski made about Nikolai Gogol) that there is hardly a single American short-story writer younger than Carver who did not "come out of Carver’s overcoat."
Edited by James Plath, professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University, this volume in the Critical Insights series presents a variety of new essays on the significant and controversial writer. For readers who are studying Carver for the first time, a biographical sketch relates the details of his life and four essays survey the critical reception of his work, explore its cultural and historical contexts, situate Carver among his contemporaries, and review key themes in his work. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the writer can then move on to other original essays that explore a bevy of topics, such as the author’s association with the literary movement dubbed "minimalism," the influence of the American West on Carver’s body of work, Carver’s approximation of the paintings of Edward Hopper, and the author’s documented struggles with alcoholism. Among the contributors are Chad Wriglesworth, Kirk Nesset, Claire Fabre, and Peter J. Bailey.
Rounding out the volume are a chronology of Carver’s life and a list of his principal publications as well as a bibliography for readers seeking to study this fascinating author in greater depth.
Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:
|A chronology of the author's life
|A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
|A general bibliography
|A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
|Notes on the individual chapter authors
|A subject index|