Raymond Carver has become a literary icon for our time. When he died in 1988 at the age of fifty, he was acclaimed as the greatest influence on the American short story since Hemingway. Carver's friends were the stuff of legend as well. In this rich collection—greatly expanded from the earlier When We Talk about Raymond Carver—of interviews with close companions, acquaintances, and family, Sam Halpert has chronologically arranged the reminiscences of Carver's adult life, recalling his difficult “Bad Raymond” days through his second life as a recovering alcoholic and triumphantly successful writer. The result is a spirited Irish wake—toasts, anecdotes, lies, songs, confessions, laments—all beautifully orchestrated by Halpert into a very readable and moving narrative.
These funny, poignant, intensely remembered interviews juxtapose personal anecdotes and enlightening criticism. Memory mixes with analysis, and a lively picture of Carver emerges as we hear different stories about him—of the same story told from different viewpoints. He is here presented as hero, victim, and even villain—Carver's readers will recognize the woof and warp of his stories in these affectionate narratives.