The two most destructive forces in American literature have been Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner. They’re both amazing authors, but just about every writer who has tried to follow in their footsteps has failed. Raymond Carver is one of the few who successfully synthesized both and created his own style in the process.
This blind man, an old friend of my wife’s, he was on his way to spend the night. His wife had died. So he was visiting the dead wife’s relatives in Connecticut. He called my wife from his in-laws’. Arrangements were made. He would come by train, a five-hour trip, and my wife would meet him at the station. She hadn’t seen him since she worked for him one summer in Seattle ten years ago. But she and the blind man had kept in touch. They made tapes and mailed them back and forth. I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs. A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to.
Raymond Carver, “Cathedral“
While writing short stories and working at a series of odd jobs, Carver had a dark vision: he had to write, but he would never make a living from writing. Therefore, he wrote full stories in the hours when he wasn’t working, editing them later. His stories usually revolve around blue-collar couples navigating their lives and relationships, more often than not unsuccessfully.
The girls who couldn’t cut it would last a week or so and then quit. Just not show for work. If they had a phone they’d take it off the hook. They wouldn’t answer their door. At first Patti took these losses to heart, like the girls were new converts who had lost their way. She blamed herself. But she got over that. Too many girls quit. Once in a while a girl would quit on her first day in the field. She’d freeze and not be able to push the doorbell. Or maybe she’d get to the door and something would happen to her voice. Or she’d get the opening remarks mixed up with something she shouldn’t be saying until she got inside.
-Raymond Carver, “Vitamins“
A heavy drinker, Carver joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 1977 and eventually married the poet Tess Gallagher, who would become his second wife and who never saw him take a drink.
Carver died of cancer in 1988, and is buried at Ocean View Cemetery in Port Angeles.
Regular Right Guy doesn’t know it, but he helped with this post.
The Non-Anarchist is today’s recommendation for Wonderful Wednesday. It’s not a Friend of the Blog (to be that you have to link me and generally be cool,) but it’s an informative and entertaining read.
Strobe, the proprietor of the blog, is a self-described “downwardly-mobile American liberal who’s read some Marx” living in rather notorious West Oakland, CA. According to the About page, The Non-Anarchist “strives to support a non-reactionary understanding of anarchism” and combines research and observation of local anarchists, particularly among the Occupy Oakland crowd.
Among other topics, the author writes about conflicts between anarchist squatters and local black residents, the violence of the Black Bloc protestors at Occupy Oakland and conflicts between anarchists and socialists. Strobe seems to have a general disdain for his subjects, but he’s much nicer than I would be covering this group.
As I mentioned, Strobe is a liberal, so there’s some early sympathy with the Occupy movement before Oakland became a train wreck, and he has a tendency to use the words anarchist and libertarian synonymously. One can be an anarchist and a libertarian, I suppose, but when I think of an anarchist I see a left winger with a mohawk. Other than that, The Non-Anarchist is good stuff.
“No one should be afraid of the truth. Least of all gay people… Shouldn’t we understand better why and how?” – One of the few useful things Andrew Sullivan has said recently
When journalist Stephen Jimenez arrived in Laramie, Wyoming in 2000 to gather details on the murder of Matthew Shepard in order to write a screenplay on the tragedy, he was operating under the commonly held assumption that Shepard was killed in a homophobic hate crime. After over a decade of research we now have The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, which calls the conventional wisdom into question.
Sources tell Jimenez that Shepard was involved in the drug trade in Laramie and Denver, and that he had known his attacker, Aaron McKinney, longer than McKinney had known his accomplice, Russell Henderson. The three men were regular meth users and dealers, and the murder occurred when McKinney and Henderson tried to rob Shepard of money or drugs while the murderers were on a five day meth binge. There’s much more to the story, and Jimenez doesn’t discount homophobia completely as a motive, but I want people to read this so I’ll leave out some of the big details.
The Book of Matt does a very good job of shining a light on the small-town white criminal underclass, a group that doesn’t really have much of a spotlight in our popular culture. It’s a group that many middle class people (like myself) have brushed up against at some point, but were never really a part of it. A year before the murder, McKinney had robbed a Kentucky Fried Chicken. He had an out of wedlock child with his girlfriend, and the three had spent time living in a Laramie motel. Henderson was raised by an alcoholic mother and a series of abusive boyfriends. Both are currently serving double life sentences.
It’s unfortunate that only a gay liberal journalist like Jimenez could write this book and be taken at all seriously. It’s also unfortunate that groups like GLAAD and the creeps at Media Matters are denouncing the book, but perhaps that just means that Jimenez is on the right track. So buy the book. It’s definitely worth a read.
Update: Reblogged by Dead Richard Nixon. Muchas gracias hermano!
Here are some links to blogs I follow. I’d love to have something more original, but ten hours at the 9 to 5 have me a little tired. And coffee isn’t doing the trick.
Valley of the Shadow: Democratic memes that died in Boston.
The Necropolitan Sentinel: I went to one of these schools for a few years. Interesting.
SooperMexican: The Sarah Palin “assclown” tweet. Awesome.
WarriorWoman91: Translating the Declaration of Independence.
Acculturated: Let young adults make bad decisions.
The Other McCain: Another hard working, underpaid public employee caught having sex with her students.
Ace: Those who expose infanticide are terrorists.
I tried re-blogging this post yesterday, but apparently I don’t know WordPress very well. Luckily I know how to link, so it should be a lot less painful on the second go.
Musings, Rants & Ramblings has a thorough post detailing recent acts of terrorism and other headline-grabbing violent acts, and how every time the media have attacked conservatives and the Tea Party as being the obvious culprits, until the actual culprit turns out to be a lefty, a lunatic or a Jihadist.
Hell, I had forgotten about Amy Bishop:
Amy Bishop opened fire on her colleagues in Alabama – It didn’t take long before we heard the same ole, same ole from the left. Reuters Foundation Fellow Jonathan Curiel wondered aloud “Does racism explain the tenure shooting and the Tea Party movement? Amy Bishop was a liberal to the core. She was described as being a “far left political extremist obsessed with President Obama”.
So check out Musings, Rants & Ramblings. It’s linked on the sidebar as well.
I was going to post something tonight, but after making a wrong turn on Pearblossom Highway and getting completely lost, I’m really in a “lay down and watch TV” mood.
I found Acculturated on Twitter. It’s a conservative leaning pop culture website. If you aren’t reading it now, you should be.