The past couple of posts have been about shorts, namely stories for anthologies. However much you can learn by writing them, though, it’s best to complement your own scribblings with those of a master. At least, a master of the short form. Carver might not write science fiction, might not explore the elven realms of unicorns and magic, but you could probably transpose many of his stories there.

And that’s because Carver focuses on what works with the short form. Powerful characters. Situations loaded with conflict. In media res is the effective guiding principle of these stories, as the reader is brought into each scene well after it’s begun to unfold. We leave well before each scene really ends, leaving us with questions, thoughts, impressions.

Think of your last train ride. Plane flight. Trip in a taxi. You look out the window and see someone walking by. Maybe they’re talking on their phone. Maybe taking a bite out of a donut or spilling coffee on themselves. Their clothes, their attitude, the way their eyes take in the world around them, that is a foundation for you to fill in.

Carver provides endless foundations. Bursts of character and clarity that offer your imagination the opportunity to run wild with the possibilities.

In a world where we can have everything explained to us by the devices in our pockets, Carver’s stories marvel at the unknown, at the mysteries that linger in the shadows. Enjoy them.

Where I’m Calling From can be found just about anywhere. Your local library, for example. If you’d like your own copy, you can find it here on Amazon.

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