Raymond Carver Additional Biography


In style and subject matter, Raymond Carver’s short-story collections reflect his life experiences. The son of working-class parents, he grew up knowing the financial and spiritual hardships of trying to earn a living in the logging districts of Yakima, Washington. The first in his family ever to graduate from high school, by the age of twenty he was married and the father of two children. Parenting, he later said, was a responsibility for which he was totally unprepared.

In 1958, Carver moved his family to Northern California, where he attended Chico State College and was encouraged by the novelist John Gardner. The next two decades were marred by a series of “crap jobs,” marital turmoil, bankruptcy, and alcoholism. Carver had to steal time from other obligations in order to write and thus felt his best calling was being sacrificed to exigencies. During these years, however, he settled on his defining literary topics: the seemingly futile struggles of the working class and the relations between men and women. Delivered in a spare prose style that had been “cut to the marrow,” his first two books are about people who inhabit the edges of the American Dream. Frustrated and deprived of opportunities, his characters do not recognize themselves in the lives they are living.

On June 2, 1977, Carver stopped drinking. Within a year, he met poet Tess Gallagher and began sharing with her a new “second life,” for which he was always grateful. As if mirroring the positive changes in his personal life, Cathedral marked a dramatic shift in style and tone from his previous work. His stories became more generous, more hopeful. In the title piece, for example, a blind man entices the story’s cynical narrator to close his eyes and draw with him a cathedral being described on a late night television documentary. The collaborative effort frees Robert to admit that “it’s really something” to share one’s imaginative vision with another person.

Cathedral and Where I’m Calling From secured Carver’s literary reputation. Although he never expected to be famous, a few months before his death he said that he could not think of anything he would rather be called than a writer. His career marked by innovation, authenticity, and compassion for the disfranchised, Carver died of lung cancer at the age of fifty.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Raymond Clevie Carver, Jr., was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, and grew up in Yakima, Washington, where his father worked as a saw filer in a lumber mill. Like most young men growing up in that heavily forested, sparsely populated region, Carver enjoyed hunting and fishing; however, he seems to have inherited unusual intelligence, sensitivity, and ambition. His life is a story of his struggle to achieve self-actualization in spite of an impoverished background. His parents were poor and uneducated, and he himself was extremely ignorant about literature. In his teens, he enrolled in a correspondence course in creative writing, but he never finished it. His early reading was typically the westerns of Zane Grey, the fantasies of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and magazines celebrating rugged outdoor adventure.

At the age of nineteen, Carver married his teenage sweetheart, who gave birth to their first child less than six months later. Another child was born the following year, and from then on, Carver was torn between the desire to become a writer and the need to support his family. “Nothing—and, brother, I mean nothing—that ever happened to me on this earth,” he said, “could come anywhere close, could possibly be as important to me, could make as much difference, as the fact that I had two children.”

In 1958, Carver and his family moved to Paradise, California, where he enrolled at Chico State College (now Chico State University). One of the major turning points in his life was a course in creative writing taught by the inspiring writer and teacher John Gardner. Carver began publishing poems and short stories in college literary magazines. He continued to do so when he transferred to Humboldt State College (now University) in Arcata, California, and finally his work began to be accepted by respected literary quarterlies.

Carver was tortured by the...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

In his relatively short career as a professional author, Raymond Carver established a critical reputation as the most powerful and innovative short-story writer of his generation. He was born in a small town in northwestern Oregon, but by the time he started school his family had moved to Yakima, Washington, where his father worked as a logger. Carver once declared that the most important, although in many ways the most negative, influence on his early hopes to become a writer was the fact that he married and became a father before he was twenty. The need to support his family made the work he really wanted to do impossible.

Carver moved his wife and two children to California in 1958, where he enrolled at Chico State...

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Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, on May 25, 1938, to laborer Clevie Raymond Carver and homemaker Ella Beatrice Carver. At an early age,...

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Raymond Carver's spare, realistic stories about the hardscrabble lives of the working class are rooted in his own experience. Born in...

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Raymond Carver was exposed at a young age to many of the darker aspects of family life and the working world. He was born on May 25, 1938, in...

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Raymond Carver was born May 25, 1938, to Clevie Raymond Carver and Ella Beatrice Casey in the tiny logging town of Clatskanie, Oregon,...

(The entire section is 496 words.)


Raymond Carver Published by Gale Cengage

Raymond Carver was born on May 25, 1938, in Clatskanie, Oregon, the son of Clevie Raymond, a laborer, and Ella Beatrice Raymond, a homemaker....

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Raymond Carver was born on May 25, 1938, in Clatskanie, Oregon. His father was a manual laborer, and Carver worked as a laborer at various...

(The entire section is 398 words.)