Raymond Carver (1938-1988) was one of the greatest exponents of the American short story. His style was sparse, open and very human. We are told that a story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, yet Carver would jump in right in the middle and leave well before the end. This was his master-stroke, because we never need to see any more than he gives us. Ambiguity runs rife through his work, and it remains in the mind because we have to think about what we’ve just read.
Recommended work: “Beginners: the Original Text of What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” (Jonathan Cape, 2009) This is the original text of the stories that appeared in one of his finest collections. As discussed in the introduction to this book, Carver’s editor, Gordon Lish, shortened many, almost all, in fact, of Carver’s stories for publication in books. His thinking was that in doing this, Carver would reach a wider audience. He may have been right, he may have been wrong, but now at last we can read these particular stories as they were meant to be read. And they are truly magnificent.