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Julian Loose, 30 January 1992

The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 241 13144 8
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... brand of Science Fiction owes more to the winning cartoonism of Kurt Vonnegut (touched perhaps by Raymond Roussel’s delight in deliriously over-elaborate explanations) than to the dirty cyberpunk realism of Sterling and William Gibson. Similarly, Murakami’s fantasy narrative is more reminiscent of the elegant allegories of Ursula le Guin than the sword ...

Waving the Past Goodbye

Lorna Sage, 3 April 1997

A Regular Guy 
by Mona Simpson.
Faber, 372 pp., £15.99, February 1997, 0 571 19079 0
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The Keepsake 
by Kirsty Gunn.
Granta, 224 pp., £14.99, March 1997, 9781862070134
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... to Egypt). The people are just ordinarily strange – very much the kind described by Raymond Carver in the introductory essay he wrote for his 1986 selection of Best American Short Stories (which featured a story by Simpson): ‘Real people’ in the guise of fictional characters inhabit the stories ... The characters ... are people ...

Reality B

Christopher Tayler: Haruki Murakami’s ‘1Q84’, 15 December 2011

1Q84: Book 1 and Book 2 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin.
Harvill Secker, 623 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 1 84655 407 0
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1Q84: Book 3 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel.
Harvill Secker, 364 pp., £14.99, October 2011, 978 1 84655 405 6
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... them.) It uses the voice of a disgruntled, detached Tokyo hipster, self-raised on Kurt Vonnegut, Raymond Chandler and Dostoevsky, to tell an unlikely noir story: a nameless Boku goes in search of an old friend and a mysterious sheep on the orders of a shadowy tycoon. It’s a consciously Chandleresque set-up, which, in Murakami’s words, ‘meant, first of ...

Get a Real Degree

Elif Batuman, 23 September 2010

The Programme Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing 
by Mark McGurl.
Harvard, 480 pp., £25.95, April 2009, 978 0 674 03319 1
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... cultural pluralism’ (Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros) and ‘lower-middle-class modernism’ (Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates), with Venn diagrams illustrating the overlap between these groups, and their polarisation by aesthetic sub-tendencies such as maximalism and minimalism. Despite his professed indifference to the pro-con ...

How Diamond Felts ended up in the mud

A.O. Scott: Annie Proulx, 9 December 1999

Close Range: Wyoming Stories 
by Annie Proulx.
Fourth Estate, 318 pp., £12, June 1999, 1 85702 942 9
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... closely to the realist conventions of the American short story as handed down from Hemingway to Raymond Carver to half a million creative writing graduate students, Proulx’s stories have clear and acknowledged roots in folk tales, oral traditions and local legend. She understands that true stories don’t simply spring from the stony ground of ...

An Even Deeper Bunker

Tom Vanderbilt: Secrets and spies, 7 March 2002

Body of Secrets: How America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World 
by James Bamford.
Century, 721 pp., £20, May 2001, 0 7126 7598 1
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Total Surveillance: Investigating the Big Brother World of E-Spies, Eavesdroppers and CCTV 
by John Parker.
Piatkus, 330 pp., £10.99, September 2001, 0 7499 2226 5
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... lives (divorcees, scandal-hounded celebrities, relocated workers), they lived low-budget, Raymond Carver lives. Still, there were moments when more attention might have been paid to them. The hijackers drove without proper licences, violated immigration rules, left a plane sitting on an active runway and developed the unmarketable skill of ...

Writing Machines

Tom McCarthy: On Realism and the Real, 18 December 2014

... unproductive, to discuss such things unless, to borrow a formulation from the ‘realist’ writer Raymond Carver, we first ask what we talk about when we talk about the real. Perhaps we should have another look at the terms ‘the real’, ‘reality’ and ‘realism’. Let’s start with ‘realism’, since it’s the easiest target of the ...

Agent Bait

Christopher Tayler: Nell Zink, 2 March 2017

by Nell Zink.
Fourth Estate, 288 pp., £14.99, October 2016, 978 0 00 817917 5
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Private Novelist 
by Nell Zink.
Ecco, 336 pp., $15.99, October 2016, 978 0 06 245830 8
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... Walser, pays tribute to Kathy Acker and boasts of not having read or even seen a single book by Raymond Carver. Tristram Shandy and The Pickwick Papers are said to be better than the complete works of Faulkner and Burroughs, and there are many discussions of George Eliot. At the same time, in her role as a mock-translator, she improvises a consciously ...

Just a Diphthong Away

Ange Mlinko: Gary Lutz, 7 May 2020

The Complete Gary Lutz 
by Gary Lutz.
Tyrant, 500 pp., £15, December 2019, 978 1 7335359 1 5
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... and some, like Lutz, cult figures, who came of age in the late 1970s and 1980s, including Raymond Carver, Amy Hempel, Barry Hannah, Diane Williams and Mary Robison.One of the best accounts of Lish’s influence is in David Leavitt’s roman à clef Martin Bauman; Or, a Sure Thing. He appears in the first paragraph of the first chapter disguised ...

Corporate Imposter

Alex Harvey, 4 February 2021

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden 
by Denis Johnson.
Vintage, 224 pp., £9.99, February 2019, 978 1 78470 817 7
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... the early 1970s Johnson did an MFA at the University of Iowa and came under the influence of Raymond Carver, who had yet to receive his late acclaim and was still in full-blown drinking mode. Johnson followed suit – going, as he put it, ‘from prodigy to prodigal in a hurry’. (His first collection of poetry, The Man among the Seals, had ...

In Flesh-Coloured Silk

Seamus Perry: Romanticism, 4 December 2003

Metaromanticism: Aesthetics, Literature, Theory 
by Paul Hamilton.
Chicago, 316 pp., £17.50, August 2003, 0 226 31480 4
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... There is a beguiling poem by Raymond Carver which, like many modern poems, though more cheerfully than some, spends most of its short life mulling over the conditions of its own possibility. ‘A crow flew into the tree outside my window’: the ingenuous opening line at once establishes Carver in a realm of the purest contingency, where things just happen to happen ...

In the Box

Dale Peck, 6 February 1997

How Stella Got Her Groove Back 
by Terry McMillan.
Viking, 368 pp., £16, September 1996, 0 670 86990 2
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by Sapphire.
Secker, 142 pp., £7.99, September 1996, 0 436 20291 3
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The Autobiography of My Mother 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Vintage, 228 pp., £8.99, September 1996, 0 09 973841 4
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... the Dirty Realism of the early Eighties, a term whose sole raison d’être seemed to be to place Raymond Carver in a marketable context; or the Brat Pack writers of the late Eighties, whose three ‘founders’, Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz, remain its only viable practitioners; or the so-called New Narrativists of the first half ...

Just like Mother

Theo Tait: Richard Yates, 6 February 2003

Collected Stories 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 474 pp., £17.99, January 2002, 0 413 77125 3
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Revolutionary Road 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 346 pp., £6.99, February 2001, 0 413 75710 2
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The Easter Parade 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 226 pp., £10, January 2003, 0 413 77202 0
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... stories justify the comparisons made by his admirers: most pertinently, to John Cheever and Raymond Carver (Yates falls somewhere in between). But when Yates’s stories are encountered en masse – this new edition brings together his two collections and nine previously uncollected pieces – the uniformity of experience described begins to ...

Zoning Out and In

Christopher Tayler: Richard Ford, 30 November 2006

The Lay of the Land 
by Richard Ford.
Bloomsbury, 485 pp., £17.99, October 2006, 0 7475 8188 6
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... as ‘minor but pernicious’ lies of literature. A failed writer, he still subscribes to Raymond Carver’s ‘No tricks’ as stubbornly as an alumnus of Granta’s ‘Dirty Realism’ issue. In his view, even ‘Joyce’s epiphanies’ are ‘a good example of falsehood’: ‘The world is a more engaging and less dramatic place than writers ...

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