Raymond Carver vs. Ursula K. Le Guin


The port chops had thawed, too. Everything had thawed, including some more fist sticks, a package of steak-ums, and two Chef Sammy Chinese food dinners.  The hot dogs and homemade spaghetti sauce had thawed.  She closed the door to the freezer and reached into the fridge for her carton of yoghurt.  She raised the lid of the yoghurt and sniffed.  That’s when the yelled at her husband.

Preservation” by Raymond Carver.


Only the Doorkeeper answered.  He said, “I think we should go to our house, and open its doors.”

Dragonfly” by Ursula K. Le Guin

It doesn’t really matter how good an Ursula K. Le Guin story is; I’ll probably enjoy it.  Especially if it’s set in Earthsea like “Dragonfly.”  The final story in Tales of Earthsea is set many years after the decline of the wizard’s school on Roke.  A young girl, blessed with more magical abilities than most, seeks entrance to the wizard’s school where no woman has ever been allowed before.  Can she win entry? Is she Roke’s last best chance to bring back its glory days?  I enjoyed it. And I liked how the ending hinted at so many more tales to come.

But it doesn’t really matter how much I enjoy a Raymond Carver story; it’s probably going to be good.  So far his anthology “Cathedral” is three for four.  I read two stories for this round, loved one, forgot the other.  But, three memorable short stories out of four–that’s pretty good.  There’s something about the way Raymond Carver can take the ordinary and turn it into something profound without taking it out of the realm of the ordinary.  Nothing in his stories goes over the line into the spectacular.  No big revelations like you’d get in a Tennessee William’s play.  No forays into the magical like a Haruki Murakami story.  No extraordinary plot twist at the last minute. Ordinary people living ordinary lives that somehow manage to become profound.

imageJust four stories into my first Raymond Carver book, and I’m already a complete fanboy.

So this round in my little tournament of short stories goes to Raymond Carver.


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