Carver was born into a poverty-stricken family at the tail-end of the Depression. The son of a violent alcoholic, he married at 19, started a series of menial jobs and his own career of 'full-time drinking as a serious pursuit'. A career that would eventually kill him. Constantly struggling to support his wife and family Carver enrolled in a writing programme under author John Gardner in 1958 and he saw this as a turning point.
Rejecting the more experimental fiction of the 60s and 70s, he pioneered a precisionist realism reinventing the American short story during the eighties, heading the line of so-called 'dirty realists' or 'K-mart realists'. Set in trailer parks and shopping malls they are stories of banal lives that turn on a seeminlgy insignificant detail. Carver writes with meticulous economy suddenly bringing a life into focus in a similar way to the paintings of Edward Hopper. As well as a master of the short story he was an accomplished poet publishing several highly acclaimed volumes.
After the 'line of demarcation' in Carver's life - 2 June 1977, the day he stopped drinking - his stories become increasingly more redemptive and expansive. Alcohol had eventually shattered his health, his work and his family - his first marriage effectively ending in 1978. He finally married his long-term parter Tess Gallagher (they met ten years earlier at a writers' conference in Dallas) in Reno less than two months before he eventually lost his fight with cancer.
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