Short Story Chat: “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver

“Cathedral” is one of those short stories that often show up on those “must” lists, as in “classics you must read.”

The rundown:

A miserable, misanthropic, middle-class man’s wife used to be a caretaker for a blind man. Said blind man is coming over to visit. They eat, drink, smoke weed, and watch TV. Eventually, Mr. Misanthrope draws a cathedral with his eyes closed and has a transformative experience.

And that’s it.

Is there a hidden meaning there? Since he was drawing a cathedral, am I to draw some sort of theological inference? Is there symbolism?

Maybe not. Maybe it’s meant to just be what it is. As a strong entry in the dirty realism genre, it’s probably meant to be a moment in time, a regular life that takes a turn, triggered by a seemingly insignificant event.

It’s a story that sticks in the mind, written by a deeply complicated man.

Here are some links:

  +  Shop the book (affiliate link)

  +  Bill Buford’s editorial in Granta magazine, introducing dirty realism

  +  Read “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver, free

  +  Listen to “Cathedral,” read by Michael DuBon

  +  Glenn Sumi’s excellent review

  +  Gordon Lish’s incendiary interview with The Guardian

  +  My rundown of The New Me by Halle Butler (mentioned in the video)

  +  Stephen King on Raymond Carver, just because I thought this was an interesting article

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