Every time someone tells me he/she is a voracious reader, then proceeds to gush about the latest 100-buck newsstand bestseller, I groan inwardly. Then they ask me if I have read it, and I say no with a polite smile, while snootily thinking how I’m “used to better literature” I ask myself if I am turning into that horrible person called a book snob.
Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love has proven to me without a doubt that I am not. I am still sighing with relief.
I’d recommend this book to fans of Haruki Murakami. Dark, magical realism? Haha, no. Just mass confusion. Like I said after I’d read Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, I did not get the purpose of these stories. I like my stories to be contained in well-defined plot-lines. Sometimes I even like open-ended stories if they are satisfying in other departments. I like anything that does not make me go, “Yeah, so?”
On the other hand, master storyteller, Mr. Carver has left me baffled, and feeling, if I may say so, quite unsophisticated. It appears to me I do not appreciate the fine art of sparsely constructed sentences or, erm, episodic stories or vignettes about boring individuals. While the stories in Murakami’s book had some creepy elements, Carver’s stories have an undercurrent of bitter grimness. Old couples who seem unwilling to go on with their grating, lonely lives, drinking their way through it all, bored and cynical.
And here I am, just, you know, yawning.
Whether Carver’s stories are an acquired taste or not is not for me to decide. He seems madly popular (this book has a rating of 4.24 on Goodreads, if ratings mean anything to you) and I feel like someone the bouncer kicked out of a club. No doubt, the sparse narrative and conversational dialogue adds to its appeal, and are perhaps the reason the critics love this one, but I hate it when I turn the page over and see something’s ended when I was most definitely expecting more.
What am I missing?
*I’m weeping; I feel like my book instinct cheated me.