Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The spareness of Carver’s writing style helps to underscore the ambiguity of “So Much Water So Close to Home.” Not only does it allow him to omit incriminating details, it also keeps the “truth” from readers, forcing them to question the veracity of Stuart’s account. There remains a strong implication that more has gone on at the river campsite than readers are privileged to know, yet the text itself refuses to provide the concrete evidence that exonerates, or condemns, the fishermen.

Carver’s story points toward the guilt of the fishermen in several ways, although it is never clear how much guilt they may share in the woman’s death. Did they kill her, or only violate her dignity after death by not acting in a timely manner? Alternatively, might they have mutilated and sexually violated her dead body? The fact that something is eating away at Stuart is clear because he needs reassurance that his wife believes him; he seeks this reaffirmation in his silent sexual grapplings with her on the night he returns home, in an affectionate note that he leaves for her the next day, and in his excessive anger at her mildly probing questions on their picnic.

A conversation that would answer readers’ questions and assuage Claire’s doubts never occurs. Instead, Stuart grows angry when Claire asks him why he went on the fishing trip. Not only does this exchange leave many questions unanswered, but it is also Carver’s way of letting...

(The entire section is 443 words.)