Why Don’t You Dance? by Raymond Carver, 1978
The magic trick:
Winning the reader with an attention-grabbing opening scene
This is a textbook example of how to wow the reader with an attention-grabbing opening scene. Carver describes the furniture of a very typical suburban home. The bedroom set, the kitchen, the living room. One detail to add: it’s all set up outdoors, in the front yard. There are many kinds of implications made by this setup, all of which work to hook the reader’s interest. And that’s quite a trick on Carver’s part.
In the kitchen, he poured another drink and looked at the bedroom suite in his front yard. The mattress was stripped and the candy-striped sheets lay beside two pillows on the chiffonier. Except for that, things looked much the way they had in the bedroom— nightstand and reading lamp on his side of the bed, nightstand and reading lamp on her side.
His side, her side.
He considered this as he sipped the whiskey.
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Oh, Ben. This RC story. Ugh, all of his stories. So good. Thanks for taking time to share your perspective on them.
Hell yeah! He’ll crush ya in five little pages!