Books, Reviews

Deal Me In #3: Cathedral by Ray Carver

Week three of the Deal Me In Reading Challenge: Another week, another short story. This week’s luck of the draw lead me to any short story by Carver and I picked the story Cathedral by Raymond Carver.

Deal Me In Reading Challenge

Cathedral by Raymond Carver

Cathedral by Raymond Carver

Week Three – The 6 of Spades – Cathedral by Raymond Carver. I first discovered Carver as part of another reading challenge years ago, but since then have read only one or two of his stories. That first read showed me that even the seemingly mundane things in the average person’s life can leave the reader feeling satisfied at the end of the story, when presented just right, or rather when presented with that hint of brilliance, like Carver did.

I was already reading this story for a class assignment and had a ? on the 6 of Spades, so simply filled it in! 🙂

About the Story and Its Author

The story itself: Note that Cathedral is the title story in a collection of Carver’s short stories by the same name. This was his third collection of short stories and was nominated for the Pulitzer.

The author: Raymond Carver is regarded as one of America’s greatest writers and credited with revitalizing the English-language short-story genre in the 20th century. His stories were of the everyday man with everyday problems, and showed that life is not all sunshine and roses. With darkness that rings true and twists that delight, his ability to use short sentences in short stories to convey so much more is inspiring.

Summary

The narrator’s wife is old friends with a blind man named Roger, who is visiting them for a while. The narrator is not too comfortable with the idea of a stranger (to him) and a blind one at that, staying with them. And he is also jealous of the relationship between his wife and her friend. His own life is at a stand-still, adding to his insecurities. As the story progresses, the narrator’s attitude towards his unwelcome guest shifts, and the reader finds them working together on a drawing (yes, the blind man too) towards the end.

My Thoughts

This story is a mixed bag of feelings for me. I truly enjoyed the narrator’s honesty here. His inner monologue, and at times, what he says out loud as well is mean, laced with preconceived notions and prejudices, and edged with a superior air to get over his deeper feelings of insecurity and jealousy. Carver also brings in humor at unexpected points that made me wonder, what? The story highlights, without being obvious about it, issues of communication in relationships, and of acceptance and prejudices.

But the repeated references to drinking, smoking, as well as use of recreational drugs, and in a higher degree, his (those honest thoughts I talked about) constantly addressing their house guest as ‘the blind man’ (which he is) and not by his given name (Roger) was a downer of sorts for me – more so because this was a short story.

In spite of all this, the story is not truly dark or twisted which is another plus factor here – the story redeems itself in a redemption, of sorts.

Conclusion

So there it is, mixed feelings leaning towards the positive. And in the end, I still have to say he is a brilliant writer.

And Now, the End of this Post

Dear reader, have you read stories by Carver? Any favorites or recommendations for me? And if you have read Cathedral, what were your thoughts on the tale?

Here are my previous posts for the month:

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