Week of Feb. 1, 2010 | Carol Sklenicka

This week's guest is Carol Sklenicka, author of RAYMOND CARVER: A WRITER'S LIFE, published by Scribners. Ms. Sklenicka spent over a decade researching the life and studying the writings of Raymond Carver.

Carver changed the landscape and form of the short story during his writing career. I have always been a fan of Carver's work, and cherish my copy of WHERE I'M CALLING FROM.

Ms. Sklenicka's biography fills in the gaps of Carver's life that have been missing. She had access to Carver's family, and to Tess Gallagher. The result is a balanced and fair look at Ray Carver the writer, and Ray Carver the man. I found the book to be compelling and very readable. I had to slow myself down, so that I didn't finish it to quickly ( a rare trait in biographies).

The stories surrounding Raymond Carver's life are legendary, a legend he lived up to. The book chronicles time that Carver spent with John Cheever at The Iowa Writer's Workshop that are priceless. Carver stopped drinking a decade or so before his death from lung cancer. Ms. Sklenicka does a wonderful job of describing this transitional phase of his life, and how it affected his writing.

I highly recommend this book to admirers of Carver's work and to anyone who is interested in the craft of writing.

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