artsy book review (book was published in ’76)

If there’s one thing I can contemplate over for hours and still enjoy myself, and one thing that to me is the source for the best art and comedy, it’s people communicating.

People keep trying, and trying, and trying, and it’s so great! Even though every single way to communicate (and there’s a lot of them these days) is totally inadequate to objectively convey even the most basic emotions, or any other thing for that matter, everyone still tries. Even though you never know if the person you’re communicating with will ever know what you mean exactly, hundreds of words have been made up to describe one colour, or one form, a certain level of coolness. And this gives so much comfort.

I especially like when language (together with music, touch and images my favourite form of communication) is taken completely out of it’s context, and a sentence or dialogue loses all it’s trivial meaning and just becomes incredibly funny. People say the most wonderful things, but because of their context they seem normal, or they are expected. It’s only when I hear the sentence and actually listen to the words and sounds, instead of thinking about what the other person is trying to convey, that I feel how hilarious certain word combinations or dialogues can be.

One writer who showed me this is Raymond Carver. His short stories are mostly dialogue, and quite sad at that. Nothing much happens, a lot of details are described. But because there is no context, instead of feeling sorry or sad, you see the dialogue for what it is, and to me they are so beautifully funny.

coverThe stories are in essence about people’s inability to communicate, and this makes for such incredible dialogues and situations, like an older couple getting all riled up when they catch another couple cheating during a game of bingo at their local community centre.

Of course it totally depends on taste whether this is your kind of thing too, but for the people who want to check out his work, I recommend starting with ‘Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?’

I always thought I was not into slow stories where there’s no real plot (because I’m from the zap-generation, you know) but I clearly am into them. And the fact that they are short stories makes it easier to stay focused, a whole novel like Carver’s short stories would have been too much for my rather easily distracted mind.

A synopsis of a story from this book, to win you over. More of them over here

“The Ducks”. At work the foreman suddenly dies, so everyone is sent home. At home one man fails to use the opportunity to have sex with his wife.

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