A young girl, dancing with her lover amidst the debris of an older man's life, has her first forewarning of the dangers of adulthood, and is filled with an 'unbearable happiness'. A man and woman lock themselves in a motel room and slowly, painfully, acknowledge the end of a relationship, while somewhere else in the lonely Midwest a man is photographed over and over again as he attempts to locate himself in a world that seems utterly without focus. But as we move through the manifold little tragedies at the heart of the ordinary - so much at the core of Carver's work - new layers, new nuances, new meanings reveal themselves. Where the Lish / Carver collaboration cut this collection to the 'linguistic bone', these fleshier stories say what was previously unsaid, filling in the narrative silences that have both inspired and mystified readers for so long. "Beginners" is a fascinating insight into the aesthetic of a literary great and, in the questions it raises, may just spark off one of the great cultural debates of our times.
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