Monday, October 20, 2014

Carver: Cathedral of everyday life

Raymond Carver himself comes to me late. Not being a great fan of certain parts of American prose, his "Cathedral" needed 45 years to make it to me. Maybe better so, as after H. Miller and J. Kerouac I can appreciate it more.

When the two above mentioned writers worked for me by their description of a part of the population of States which seems more interesting to me, in a collection of short stories "Cathedral", Carver hits with his decription of a non-descript America. It seems at the beginning like writing a screenplay for "Barbie and Ken" animation, but after a few sentences, it starts to catch the attention by its ...pregnance.

Exactly this is the word, as he is able to make a story of something what could be a midwest scene: a perfectly normal home visit to a co-worker. Two couples meet at the home-ground of one of them. Really not promising great entertainment. But Carver holds the reader's attention by ...what, exactly? Nothing great is happening there, nothing bad, too. Just a bit edgy way of description, which almost forced me to put the book aside. I almost expected someone to pull the axe and make a mess in the living-room. It is obvious that I am not watching TV for decades, so I am out of habit to participate in other people's "normal" lives without feeling intimidated. Yes, the way Carver bite into it is alike to a (good) sitcom. Out of such staff came Lynch and alike.

I read somewhere that he'd had a following in Europe in 1970-ies, that many writers started seeing the word in his terms. Yes, I could imagine this, a deserved kick in the ass to overly "artistic" or "philosophical" Europe. Or, as R.M. Pirsig, another of Americans I really like, would say (in "Lila"): philosophying.

I will continue digging into this writer.

No comments: