What is it about Raymond Carver that attracts so many creatives? I first heard of Carver when Rhett Miller mentioned him in an interview with Robert Christgau. Old 97’s even recorded a song with the title of a Carver story named, “What we talk about when we talk about love?”.
Then I encountered another Carver fascination when I saw Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts”, a fabulous movie, listed as a “Great Movie” by Roger Ebert. Altman cobbled together nine short stories by Carver, made the protagonists related and created one single story that is nothing but fascinating.
Alejandro Inarritu’s Birdman is a story about an aged actor – who played a super hero way back, trying to establish himself as a serious artist. And whose story would he choose to be made into a play on broadway? Of course, Carver’s. Birdman is as much about Carver as it is about the other topics like creative insecurity.
And as I started reading my first Murakami yesterday(yes, beat me with a stick), I kept on getting a sense that Murakami is somehow influenced by Carver. And it turned out he is. Influenced is a mild word – Murakami was a big Carver fan, and credits Carver in shaping his literary sensibility. They met in California for two hours, the meeting is immortalized in a poem by Carver, but Murakami did not dare to tell Carver that he wrote novels. What is it about Carver that influences so many greats? Well, that is a post for another day! Let me get back to my “Kafka on the Shore”