Popular Mechanics by Raymond Carver, 1978
The magic trick:
Eliminating context and getting right to the heart of the matter
Unpleasant little vignette, this. A married couple is letting its failing relationship negatively affect the child in the middle. Perhaps it goes beyond that even to the question of abortion.
Sad stuff but not exactly original, and I’m not sure this story really brings any new insights or vantage points to the situation. I would not put this anywhere near a suggested reading list for someone new to Carver.
On the plus side, the story is a testimony to Carver’s ability as a minimalist. It’s a term apparently he hated, so we’ll modify it in his case to MinimalLish. I’m sure he’d like that much better.
The story doesn’t waste any time with context or exteriors. It’s all business. Right down to the heart of the matter. And that’s quite a trick on Carver’s part.
He crowded her into the wall then, trying to break her grip. He held on to the baby and pushed with all his weight.
Let go of him, he said.
Don’t, she said. You’re hurting the baby, she said.
I’m not hurting the baby, he said.
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