Thursday, February 17

Chef's House

One of his later stories, this appears in Cathedral, by which time Carver felt that he was writing a different kind of story from those in his earlier books. It feels as if it could have been an anecdote someone (drunk) told you in a pub, perhaps because it reflects the mental state of a recovering alcoholic.  Things are just slipped in as asides all over the place.  It is a short but very interesting and experimental work.

The story is essentially a sad one: there is a desperation to it.  A couple briefly getting back together in an untenable situation (living for free in Chef’s house) manage to achieve a brief happiness, staying off the drink.  However, the recovery of their relationship becomes confused with the idyllic situation they find themselves in.  The restart of their marriage bears a strong analogy to an alcoholic's fragile attempt to stay dry.  Carver, of course, struggled with alcohol for much of his life.

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