Notes: Carver's influential volume of short stories, nominated for the National Book Award.
In the late 1990s, after Gordon Lish's archive became available to researchers at the Lilly Library, the extent that Lish edited Carver's stories became apparent. Lish had been Carver's advocate for many years, as an editor at Esquire, and one of the few people in the literary world giving Carver paying gigs. Lish helped convince McGraw-Hill to publish this book, Carver's first major collection of stories. In 1976, McGraw-Hill mostly published textbooks and popular titles like Erma Bombeck's The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, so a book that ended up on many critics' "best of" lists that year was something of a stretch (the best parallel that comes to mind is Chilton, the auto-repair manual company, publishing Frank Herbert's Dune a decade earlier).
After ten years as a struggling writer, the author of chapbooks and offprints, Carver was eager to see his work in hardcover. He wrote to Lish that he was open to any kind of editing. "I will leave it up to you & you tell me what you think needs done or doing," he wrote. Carver became known for his pared down, spare style, beginning with this book, and that style would influence the generation of short story writers that came after. Today there is an ongoing effort to publish Carver's stories as they were before Lish took his red pencil to them. We will probably need another generation to know which version people like better, but this book will always mark a major turning point in American post-war literature.
Edition + Condition: First edition (first printing, with a numberline beginning in 1). A near fine hardcover copy in a very good dust jacket with short closed tears along the top edge.
Publication: New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.
Item No: #313465