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Fires: Essays, Poems, Stories
by Raymond Carver

When I was in college, I took a couple of creative writing courses and Raymond Carver was considered perhaps the finest craftsmen of short stories. I, however, was not a fan. While stylistically I appreciated the sparseness of his writing, I found little to engage me in minimalism of the stories - little in the way of plot or character for me to find interesting or likable.

Recently, thanks to a biography and a new collection of his works, there has been a bit of resurgence of interest in his work. So I thought I'd give it another try. Fires gathers a lot of his early work and I've been picking it up & putting it down over the last several months. I most enjoyed the two essays, which deal with writing and his influences. Some of the poems really struck me as well. Those were the ones where he was being most transparent, not taking on a persona, but clearly talking about his own experience, particularly with love and with drinking. The poems where he tries to put himself in another's place do not work nearly as well.

The stories, too, are hit and miss. These are earlier works in his oeuvre and some of his later refinement is missing. But I like and appreciate that.

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