Book the Fourth: A Book with a Red Spine.

Title: What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Author: Raymond Carver

Published: 1981


“I admit it’s not much of a story.”

“I was interested.”

– Raymond Carver, Everything Stuck to Him.

I (unlike the lady in the above story) was not interested.

My opinion of this book can best be summarised in this text based exchange between me and a friend when I was at the halfway point:


Me: It’s so BORING. Nothing happens and everyone’s an alcoholic.

Friend: It’s Realism.

M: Oh FFS this book is stupid.

F: I’m wondering if Realism as a genre isn’t your thing.

M: It’s like reading Katherine Mansfield all over again.

F: Not going to try Proust any time soon then? Three books of Realism with little plot.

M: Then Proust can do one.


And there in a nutshell is my relationship with Realism in general, Raymond Carver specifically.

For a genre that apparently replicates the way real people interact I have never read such stilted conversation. If this is how Americans talk when they are alone then I have to assume all Americans are boring and emotionally constipated.

Finishing this book was a real struggle and I am thanking God that it was a book of short stories as I think anything longer would have actually finished me off. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason that Realism and I don’t gel, but it’s something that has never worked for me – back through my degree, even all the way to 14 year old me “reading” Catcher in the Rye because Ruby Wax told me I’d enjoy it.

One of the stories (which featured a protagonist with enough mysoginy to make Donald Trump go ‘Bit much there.’) did catch my interest and I, dare I say it, actually enjoyed reading it.

I think that was mostly because the protagonist made me angry. It was genuinely the only story that made me feel anything at all, hence why I latched on to it. But the purpose of completing the POPSugar reading challenge was to broaden my reading horizons with books I haven’t tried before, so there is that.

Upon finishing I immediately gave my book to the friend I mentioned above. I have no doubt he will enjoy it more than I did. Which is not hard. I enjoyed Norovirus more.

Rating: 1/5

Read This Book if You Like: Punishing yourself.

‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’ by Raymond Carver is published by Random House and is available for £7.99.