Carver by the numbers

From “Lost in Carver Country,” courtesy of the inimitable Greg Ames:

But Christ. I was dying to write one. My friends were all dying to write one too. A Carver story. We were not ashamed to admit it. And worse, we were reading our meager efforts out in public. In the late 1970s, open fiction readings were pretty popular in Buffalo. There wasn’t much else to do during the ball-shrinking months of winter. I still remember the night Tony Pelosi sauntered up to the microphone at The Verb and read an “original” story. Nobody in the audience knew what to make of the narrator who was a forty-year-old man reclining on a cot in his mother’s ranch house, chain-smoking Merits and asking things like “What’s the weather like in Tonawanda?” and “How much are you asking for that color console?” But hell. We all clapped like crazy when old Tony finished up, even though we were pretty embarrassed for him.

Snow fell relentlessly outside the bar’s plate glass window. Red and green Christmas lights blinked off and on above the bar. I drank eleven cups of draft beer. Soon it was my turn to read. My piece — “Hand Me My Pajamas, Honey” — didn’t go over much better. Hell.

We were in hell. Carver hell.

It just gets better from there.


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