‘Popular Mechanics’ by Raymond Carver


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.

The selection:

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.


As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s