Posted by @ 10:49 am on January 26th, 2010

Here is an interview with Carver biographer Carol Sklenicka at The Economic Times, India’s leading business newspaper. This website is quite the thing, especially for the epileptic. It is cluttered and jangly and tries to sell you every square inch of someone’s soul or something. Just focus on the interview.

Noted: a dip in sales of Carver’s books. Why? Why, person who wrote “…a masterful biography rated by the New York Times as one of the best 10 books of 2009”?

For one thing, he was too much imitated and for another, it is usually more important for younger writers to look at living writers.

The imitation thing is one persistent myth, I’ll say that. Is it really more important for younger writers to look at living writers? I absolutely disagree, and my MFA program disagreed, and I am thankful.

This biographer then addresses Carver in comparison to Jonathan Franzen, Michael Chabon, TC Boyle, and Joshua Ferris.

Even if Carver were still alive and writing, I doubt if he’d be writing novels with the kind of social range that some of these writers have attempted.

Maybe, but the novel thing is too easy–the genre was not his focus. Does anyone seriously believe TC Boyle has more range than Raymond Carver? I’m not sure any of these writers place high on a list of range, but she phrases her answer to place Carver as a lesser light.

His reading?

I never came across any indication that Carver read the Latin Americans seriously. A reading list he drew up for students at Syracuse includes both Borges and Garcia Marquez, but no volume titles are listed for either one.

What does that imply? I could just as easily surmise he wanted his students to read ALL of their work.

She handles the Lish question well. Thank gods. At least we avoid yet another interview devoted to the Lish question. Overall, I am just wondering why you want to write 578 pages about someone you appear to dismiss? I felt an undercurrent in this interview that made my spleen shudder. Maybe it was me, or a fault in the interview editing, but I just felt sour.

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