I promised you a Short Story Summer post in July and here it is (a few days late, mind, but here, and that is the most important thing). I thought a good starting point to begin my short story education was with the apparent undisputed master of the form, Raymond Carver.
I've had a copy of his collection Where I'm Calling From, sitting on my book shelf gathering dust for a while now. I intended to be all literary and high-brow when I first purchased it. By reading it, obvs. But, as you may have gathered from my reviews, I don't do literary and high brow too often. I'd feel like a bit of a fraud if I waffled on about,... well, you see I don't even know where to start with all the high brow stuff and I'd probably just bore you all senseless.
So, I'm going to do this - every so often over the next couple months I'm going to read one of his stories and just jot down a little bit about it and who I think might enjoy it. Yes, a sort of - SHOCKER - review. Although being a short story, these will more than likely be very short reviews. It comes with the territory.
And you must bear with me on this one, because I'm not used to reviewing short stories and I'll probably sound like a right tit and not in the least bit literary, but I can't pretend to sound like anything else...
So, first up, I decided to read a story recommended to me by Jo. And that was a recommendation in CAPS LOCK form which is how I knew it must be worth a read. I'd seen Cathedral listed in a few short story guides too, so it felt like a natural starting point for my Short Story Summer.
Well, the thing that first sprung to mind when I finished this was VOICE. Oh, and voice. And possibly voice too. Our narrator is a married man relaying his feelings, or lack of, about his wife's close friendship with a blind man. How do I write a review of this without giving anything away? Let's just say this is jaw-droppingly good and I'm still wondering how it is possible to learn so much about our narrator when he himself tells us so little in so few words. I was a bit worried that starting my Short Story Month at such a high level would be a off-putting, but this tale would be such a great read for those who wouldn't think to pick up a short story - this shows how much is capable and the skill involved in crafting such a concise tale.
And even though it's pretty light on description, I could visualise the fifty shades of brown in their home furnishings. This is bleak stuff, but the ending is just the most beautiful of revelations. Just amazing.
Hint: Cathedral fans (and there are lots), it's not just about cathedrals.
Section Where I Write Down Any Short Story Writing Tips I Have Learnt Whilst Reading This Short Story
Actually, reading this has been like a bit of a step back. I am in serious awe of the skill involved and this has scared me ridged. I'll keep you posted when I get my short story mojo back.
But, yeah, like I said before VOICE and MORE VOICE. Need to work on the voice, I think.
Anyway, I hoped you enjoyed my first short story review of sorts. See, I told you it wouldn't be high brow.