I finally received my Paris Review Interviews box set, and I thought it would be fun to share some excerpts with you every Saturday. This week, since I said in my Booking Through Thursday post this week that I think people should read Raymond Carver, I thought I would start there:
Interviewer: Are your characters trying to do what matters?
Carver: I think they are trying. But trying and succeeding are two different matters. In some lives, people always succeed; and I think it’s grand when that happens. In other lives, people don’t succeed at what they try to do, at the things they most want to do, the large and small things that support the life. These lives are, of course, valid to write about, the lives of the people who don’t succeed. Mot of my own experience, direct or indirect, has to do with the latter situation. I think most of my characters would like their actions to count for something. But at the same time they’ve reached the point–as so many people do–that they know it isn’t so. It doesn’t add up any longer. The things you once thought were important or even worth dying for aren’t worth a nickel now. It’s their lives they’ve become uncomfortable with, lives they see breaking down. They’d like to set things right, but they can’t. And usually they do know it, I think, and after that they just do the best they can. (1983)