Raymond Carver, would-be hunter

What We Talk About When We Talk About Carver,” an essay originally published in 1987, is David Carpenter’s story about luring Raymond Carver and Richard Ford to Saskatoon with promises of a goose hunting trip:

[I]n 1982 I stumbled on Carver’s stories and felt I just had to meet this guy. Bring him up here for a reading. The question was, how? Our English Department is strapped for visiting speaker funds. Then I read “Distance,” one of Carver’s stories in Fires, and I began to see a way. In this story a young man is about to go goosehunting when his baby breaks out in a crying spell. His young wife suspects the baby is sick, but neither parent knows for sure. She prevails upon her husband to stay home and he misses out on his hunt. The baby stops crying and soon recovers. This story comes to us twenty years later when the marriage is long over.

An idea began to grow. I would invite Carver to read on campus (where I teach on alternate years). Art Sweet, a writer friend of mine, somehow dug up the address of Carver’s agent. I wrote to Carver. Let the critics say what they will about “Distance” (… a polgnant examination of lost bliss … a portrait of the raconteur as exile in time and space …), its ultimate meaning is a far more fundamental cry from the heart: Will somebody please take me goosehunting?

(Thanks to Pasha Malla for the link.)


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