The first time I read Carver, I wept. Not because I’m sad, but because Carver showed me that devastation is actually a layer of love. Through his simplistic narratives, always grounded with actions and reality, Carver gets us to be in that moment with his characters.
Relatable and strikingly close to our own hearts, his stories depict social dilemmas, raising conventionalism, and enlightment during its era. Not only does he questions the arc of a tale, he also erases the readers’ expectations. The stories revolve around couples, local American families, and blue collar society. They’ve had to deal with the complexity of their brains and the circumstances of their choices.
His minimalist style is a road towards realism. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love depicts daily mundane routine that speaks of the unsaid of troubled marriages. Miscommunications of the characters are the cultural construct from the American Dream. Actually, Carver depicts the lack of American Dream–and what is supposed to be that, anyway?
The failure of the dream then shows how they cope, or rather, how they don’t cope with it but still live carelessly. Intimate and dark, he directs his readers through lucid sentences–straight to the point with prompt words. You’ll breeze the pages fast, as how a good writer sets up their piece to be. There are repetition in characteristics, and Carver has made us wonder of what happens during his own life with his affair(s), his failed marriage, and his second one.
Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? makes me realize that expectations are merely fantasy. We are better off without is, as these expectations are not the truth. They may reveal the truth in some ways. Carver’s intimate desires and somber dissatisfaction are projected in the collection. Intriguing, really.
Now, what is ideal is to bring our own Southeast Asian literature to a worldly audience. Southeast Asian writers can mimic Carver’s confidence in portraying the issues of the era he is living in with such exquisite, effortless style. He doesn’t care whether or not his audience know the cultural context, he assumes so.
I don’t mean to copy his entire way of writing, because every individual has their own writing, but to simplify the cultural matters and be assured that your audience is smart. Simplify, that is the key. They have their American Dream, their historical values, their broken lives; surely we have ours too, and these third world countries’ stories are worth exploring too.
Featured image above (the title) is taken from here.