This is the second collection of Raymond Carver’s short stories I’ve read. Many of the impressions from my analysis of “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” apply to this collection as well, so I won’t repeat them here. What I’ll do instead is take up an opportunity that’s available whenever reading Carver – asking a question that remains unanswered in each story from this collection:
“Fat” – Why does the fat man refer to himself in the plural, “we”?
“Neighbors” – What happens to the cat, Kitty?
“The Idea” – Why does the neighbor particularly like to peep on his wife when it’s raining?
“They’re Not Your Husband” – What is the man reading the newspaper thinking?
“Are You a Doctor?” – How in God’s name does Clara’s sitter get Arnold’s number? [A momentary aside from my questions – this story is the best example of a Carver story showing far more emotional logic than narrative logic. In other words, the characters’ actions make no sense yet still seem appropriate]
“The Father” – Why is the grandmother the only one who doesn’t look at the father?
“Nobody Said Anything” – What are the parents arguing about?
“Sixty Acres” – Why does Joseph Eagle watch over Lee Waite’s land?
“What’s in Alaska?” – What does Carl see in the dark?
“Night School” – Why do the girls want to see Patterson?
“Collectors” – Why does the vacuum salesman take the letter?
“What Do You Do in San Francisco?” – Who’s Jerry?
“The Student’s Wife” – What’s gotten into Nan?
“Put Yourself in My Shoes” – What happened to Morgan’s records?
“Jerry and Molly and Sam” – Why name the story after these three minor characters?
“Why, Honey?” – Whose blood is on that shirt in the trunk of the son’s car?
“The Ducks” – Why does the man wake up his wife?
“How About This?” – Does Emily want to stay in the abandoned house?
“Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarets” – What happened to Gilbert’s bike?
“What Is It?” – What is Leo going to tell the man on Monday?
“Signals” – Is Wayne or Caroline right about Aldo?
“Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?” – Why does Marian ask Ralph if he remembers the party?