Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver

A Writer's Life

The first biography of america’s best-known short story writer of the late twentieth century.

The London Times called Raymond Carver "the American Chekhov." The beloved, mischievous, but more modest short-story writer and poet thought of himself as "a lucky man" whose renunciation of alcohol allowed him to live "ten years longer than I or anyone expected."

In that last decade, Carver became the leading figure in a resurgence of the short story. Readers embraced his precise, sad, often funny and poignant tales of ordinary people and their troubles: poverty, drunkenness, embittered marriages, difficulties brought on by neglect rather than intent. Since Carver died in 1988 at age fifty, his legacy has been mythologized by admirers and tainted by controversy over a zealous editor’s shaping of his first two story collections.

Carol Sklenicka penetrates the myths and controversies. Her decade-long search of archives across the United States and her extensive interviews with Carver’s relatives, friends, and colleagues have enabled her to write the definitive story of the iconic literary figure. Laced with the voices of people who knew Carver intimately, her biography offers a fresh appreciation of his work and an unbiased, vivid portrait of the writer.

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  • Scribner | 
  • 592 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439160589 | 
  • November 2009
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Articles About This Book

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Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Carol Sklenicka

I’d never written a biography when I began Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life, so I set about researching the book by going to Yakima, Washington, the town where Carver grew up. That was almost twenty years ago.I’d read somewhere about a Yakima...

About the Author

Carol Sklenicka

Carol Sklenicka grew up in central California during the 1960s. She attended college in San Luis Obispo and taught high school in Oxnard before going to graduate school at WashingtonUniversity in St. Louis, where she studied with Naomi Lebowitz, Stanley Elkin, and Howard Nemerov. Her stories, essays, and reviews have been published in South Atlantic Quarterly, Confrontation, Sou’wester and other periodicals.

To research the life of Raymond Carver, she studied archives and visited towns all over the United States and conducted hundreds of interviews with his relatives, friends, and colleagues. She lives with her husband, poet R. M. Ryan, near the RussianRiver in California.

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