“A wink is the same as a nod to a blind man.” Yet another brilliant collection of short stories from the master. I caught myself thinking of ways his stories could help me finish one of my own – sparse dialogue but enough weird bits to keep you interested in what’s going on with the characters. The Train is very similar to something I’m working on, a woman eavesdropping on a couple, so I might employ some similar devices to see if I can’t get my own story worked up in a frenzy. Reading Carver is like being lucid in a dream.
Some of my favorites from the collection:
* Feathers – a couple has dinner at another couple’s house, with the ugliest baby and a peacock that makes itself comfortable inside the house.
* A Small Good Thing – I feel like I’ve read this somewhere else; perhaps it was also included in shorter form in the other Carver book? A woman orders a personalized birthday cake for her son who then gets hit by a car and goes into a coma. The baker starts harassing them by phone to pick up the cake. Once the boy dies, the woman goes with her husband to confront the baker, they all end up eating cinnamon buns and talking until dawn.
* Careful – A husband kicked out of the house, sits around his apartment drinking champagne all day, a surprise visit from his wife finds him disheveled, hiding bottles in the bathroom.
* The Train – A woman has a man on the ground, cowering from her gun. He’s hurt her badly in the past. She lets him grovel, then walks to the train station. Another couple enters, the man is without shoes. The first woman eavesdrops their conversation, the other woman belligerently trying to draw her into it. The three of them get on the train late at night, the other passengers assuming they are a party of three.
* Fever – A man is left with two children when his wife leaves him for a colleague of his. Scrambling for a babysitter, he eventually finds an older woman who cooks and cleans and cares for the kids. He gets sick, high fever, finds out she’s moving away, then he sits and talks about his failed relationship, and talks himself healed.