Today marks the start of my third installment of the “A Week With…” series where I invite some of my favorite friends and writers to comment on a specific short story and then share their insights with you.
This week we will focus on Raymond Carver’s classic story, Cathedral.
Whenever I share this story with writing students, I am amused by the very predictable, but varied responses I get. This is a tough story because the first person narrator is not really a likable fellow, in many ways, and he reminds us that we, too, aren’t always so likable. For some people, that reminder triggers a compassionate response: a sort of “there but for the grace of God go I” recognition. For others, that prospect of having an unlikable trait triggers a fists-up, fighting response. “Can you believe what a @$%&#! that guy is?”
And then, there is the ending of the story. Carver presents us with a moment of epiphany, but it is so well crafted that it is easy to overlook the heavy-handedness of the transformation.
My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything.
“It’s really something,” I said.
Over the next four days, I’ll host comments and responses about Cathedral from writers Clifford Garstang, Sara McDaniel, Heidi Moore, and Brad Windhauser. I hope you enjoy it.
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If you missed any of the first two “A Week With…” posts, here is a recap:
In November, I started this series of focused blog posts with a discussion of Flannery O’Connor’s story, A Good Man is Hard to Find.
- A brief introduction and links to A Good Man resources.
- Heather Magruder writes: A Good Man…What’s in a Name?
- Kelly Fordon considers Good and Evil.
- Andrea Cumbo goes beyond the names we know.
- David Hicks points out, we are all Misfits.
In December, we focused on You Were Perfectly Fine, by Dorothy Parker.
- A brief overview of the story (You Were Perfectly Fine) and a reprint of the original blog post from 2010 that inspired my focus on Parker’s story.
- Belinda Nicoll discussed You Were Perfectly Fine: Dramatic Irony vs. Antithetical Discourse.
- Ginger Pinholster followed up with: Wit, Wisecracking, and Calisthenics With Words.
- Dorothy Parker’s “Subtlety of Structure” was the focus of Heather Marshall Magruder’s piece.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed these wonderful guest posts. Let me know. I’m planning to do more in the future, but knowing they are of value to you, dear reader, would be a wonderful incentive.
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