Kindling (a collection of short stories)

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Was his life now something only other people had a use for? Later, in both takes on the story, following his initial shock after falling and injuring himself in the bush, Roy turns to thoughts of his family members and his concern for their welfare seems to fortify him.

Kindling by Raymond Carver

And he thinks of his wife, pretending to laugh at the television. Her quietness.


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Worse things happen, he thinks. Worse things. He starts up the bank…. He keeps going; he grits his teeth as if that will keep him from sliding back; he grabs at any exposed root or halfway-sturdy stem that he can see. TMH, The second version appeared, in Too Much Happiness , two years before her eightieth birthday.

Near the end of the first version of the story, once he believes he will survive his ordeal, Roy realizes that Percy has been mistaken about the identity of the winner of the contract, whom he had vaguely remembered as being a carpenter, or a painter, or a paperhanger New Yorker, It is Roy himself. With this, it seems that Roy is able to acknowledge to himself that in addition to being a practical man, he is an artist.

The story ends with Roy still far from secure, yet, in middle age, perhaps he can still convince himself that he will be able to control his destiny. A doctor gives her pills, her sister takes her for an expensive consultation with a holistic medicine practitioner, and her niece takes her to a reflexologist for treatment.

Yet nothing pulls Lea out of her slump.

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She was still receiving rejections of her stories and felt commercial pressure to write a novel, which went against her creative instincts. Then he becomes distracted, and never returns to this question.

In the version, Roy manages no such self-delusion. He wonders:. He waits to see it circle back, so he can tell what it is by the manner of its flight and its wings…. TMH , Roy knows that loss and even death may be close at hand—but with this truth comes compensation and solace.

When, in the later version, he finally reaches level ground and can see his truck ahead, he sees Lea at the wheel. She seems, when she greets him, restored to her old self.

He notices:. A transformation, behind your back. Not a strange word at all but one he has possibly never used.

Poetry Out Loud

A formality about it that he would usually back away from. Roy speaks as if he were putting the title on his own story. His control over his own body, for one thing. Will his creative inspiration and solitary ambition be diminished in the wake of this desertion? In the first version of the story, we can believe that Roy may make it out of the wood alone. Does this reaffirm, in spite of his losses, that the newly significant connection between Roy and Lea is more positive than not?

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At the end of a Munro story, readers are aware that things could turn out in a variety of ways for the characters. Fortunately for her readers, her 14th book is due out in the fall of Awano, Lisa Dickler. Book review. Awano, Lisa Dickler, ed. Interviews with certain of Munro's peers, among them Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks, Michael Cunningham, and others, presented as first-person essays.

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Interview about The View from Castle Rock and the craft of writing. Interview about Too Much Happiness , and the craft of writing. Munro, Alice. Munro, Sheila. A Douglas Gibson Book. McClelland and Stewart Ltd. Thacker, Robert. Too Much Happiness , ; slightly different in New Yorker , 46 The trees Roy seeks out for cutting are those that logging firms have rejected as not being useful or beautiful. The relationship between creativity and solitude is a recurring Munrovian theme. Caught in a snowdrift, unable at first to move his legs, he saved himself by recalling his family members—the young, the old, the sick—as well as the financial debt he would leave behind if he died; and these thoughts gave him strength to survive: …[H]e pulled one leg out of the snow, and then the other: he got out of that drift and then there were no more drifts quite so deep, and before long he was in the shelter of the windbreak of pine trees that he himself had planted the year that [his daughter] was born.

TMH , Roy knows that loss and even death may be close at hand—but with this truth comes compensation and solace. He notices: [h]ow tangled up in itself [the wood] is, how dense and secret. Vintage, The story is titled "Kindling" as in the small sticks and bits of dry wood used to start a fire. There are several allusions to "dryness" as in Myers' staying sober and free from alcohol hence dry..

Sol wants to chop the logs and turn them into kindling before the rainy season, but doesn't have the time immediately. Myers sees it as an opportunity for work, but rather than working for the reward of money, he is working for the reward of feeling calm, accomplished, and at ease after a long day of physical work. Chopping the wood gets his mind off of things, while also helping him to think clearly, doing something that is very physical but very repetitive and mindless.

Whether he acknowledges it or not, though I think he does when he says "I have to get this finished before sunset or else He is literally gathering kindling and keeping dry and Sol will save it to make fire for a long amount of time throughout cold seasons. Myers understands, through this physical work, that he must make "kindling" in his own life to keep him strong during "cold" times when he is feeling bad and wants to run back to the old, destructive habit of drinking.

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The story IS important because it's written by Carver, but mostly, I'd say, as a representation of his own struggles with alcohol and reaching sobriety. It's about the clarity of mind and spirit that comes with sticking to sobriety, and being free from the dependence of a substance. The window is left open, the air is clean, Myers packs up and leaves Sol's, seemingly prematurely, because he feels that he has achieved what he wanted to achieve there. And while he didn't really achieve anything, as perceived by the reader, his finishing chopping the wood represents his finishing of the worst period of staying sober and moving further from the potential of relapse.

As the first line reads: "it was the middle of august and Myers was between lives," the story "Kindling" documents his transition from one life to the other, like changing seasons. Anyway, that's what I interpreted, I could be wrong.

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There could be many other ways to read the story, but that is what makes it a good story, it can mean different things to different people, and no one will ever know what Carver was exactly trying to say when he wrote anyway because he's dead and cannot tell us! Thanks to the last post for illuminating the story themes. There were things I hadnt thought of in there. I think what often makes a good story is how long it stays with you after you have read it. I would say this is a very interessting short story and I feel like I have gained something from reading it.

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