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Raymond Carver
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About the Author

Carol Sklenicka is the author of Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life, which was named of one of the 10 Best Books of 2009 by The New York Times Book Review, and Alice Adams: Portrait of a Writer. She lives with poet and novelist R.M. Ryan in northern California.

Reviews

Greatly admired and controversial, Raymond Carver was one of the major short story writers and poets of the 1980s, praised for his innovative, minimalist prose. Born into a working-class family, he married at 19, had two children right away, and never could find enough money. His increasing alcohol use helped to ease his stress but led to serious dysfunction and dependency until he became sober for the last 11 years of his life. The characters in his stories are plagued by some of the same problems with money, alcohol, and relationships he was facing. Sklenicka (D.H. Lawrence and the Child) draws on letters and numerous interviews to capture the tragedy of Carver's life and analyze his work. She tackles in detail the controversy over Gordon Lish's editorial contributions to Carver's style in his first two story collections, a process that substantially altered the works. Verdict This carefully researched, definitive biography will appeal to scholars, writers, and Carver enthusiasts.-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

He has been called "a chronicler of blue-collar despair." He led a relatively private life, much of it spent trying to raise cash via odd jobs and the writing-conference circuit, and died from the cancerous effects of excessive drinking and smoking. Raymond Carver (1938-1988) is a fascinating figure more for what went on in his imagination, as it registered the dynamics of couples' relationships amid the counterculture, than for his messy life. He came from the lower-middle class of Yakima, Wash., and was a father before he turned 21. Maryann Burk, his first wife, had her own measure of success as a memoirist, but as the Carvers' lives came to resemble his stories, they divorced. Carver soon found his second great love, Tess Gallagher. It's ironic that the master of the minimalist short story has his own life recounted in such whopping detail by short story writer and essayist Sklenicka. Earnest and carefully researched, this biography interestingly recounts Carver's working relationship with editor Gordon Lish and other publishing figures. But the writing is most compelling in an epilogue that highlights posthumous legal disputes showing Gallagher maintaining an iron grip on Carver's growing legacy and reputation. (Nov.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Raymond Carver's stories and poems are still very much alive, and thanks to Carol Sklenicka's biography, Ray the writer comes to life again. This is a remarkable book, very thorough and deeply moving. I knew Ray, and now I know him better than ever." -- Richard Cortez Day, author of "When in Florence" and "Something for the Journey"
"If his stories, told in a clipped, brusque voice, help us better understand life in all its loveliness and anguish, then this biography does the same for the man behind them, only with a shout -- full-throated with the voices of those who knew him. Meticulously researched, unflinchingly honest, and always compelling. What we talk about when we talk about Carver will forever be defined by this poignant monument of a book." -- Benjamin Percy, author of "Refresh, Refresh" and "The Language of Elk"

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