Fever by Raymond Carver, 1983
The magic trick:
Packaging the story’s theme in a single speech to be dropped in the story’s climactic scene
“Fever” is a good way to end this weeklong celebration of stories from Raymond Carver’s Cathedral seeing how it functions as a kind of greatest hits package for the collection. Carver separates the man and woman by telephone just like in “Where I’m Calling From.” Everything in the story funnels toward a singular and memorable scene at the end just like in “Cathedral.” We have a mysticism that borders on the supernatural found in “Preservation.” Last but not least an old person delivers a speech in the story’s climactic scene that summarizes the theme in a nice, neat, little box with a bow on top just like the nauseating sentimentality of “A Small, Good Thing.” And that’s really the magic trick to highlight. It’s an interesting way to drive the main point home – put it in the monologue of a character at the end of a story. And that’s quite a trick on Carver’s part.
“Go on,” Mrs. Webster said. “I know what you’re saying. You just keep talking, Mr. Carlyle. Sometimes it’s good to talk about it. Sometimes it has to be talked about. Besides, I want to hear it. And you’re going to feel better afterwards. Something just like it happened to me once, something like what you’re describing. Love. That’s what it is.”
What do you think about this story? As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.