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This title in other editions

What It Used to Be Like: A Portrait of My Marriage to Raymond Carver

by

What It Used to Be Like: A Portrait of My Marriage to Raymond Carver Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Maryann Burk Carver met Raymond Carver in 1955, when she was fifteen years old and he was seventeen. In What It Used to Be Like, she recounts a tale of love at first sight in which two teenagers got to know each other by sharing a two-year long-distance correspondence that soon after found them married and with two small children.

Over the next twenty-five years, as Carver's fame grew, the family led a nomadic life, moving from school to school and teaching post to teaching post. In 1972, they settled in Cupertino, California, where Raymond Carver gave his wife one of his sharpened pencils and asked her to write an account of their history.

The result is a breathtaking memoir of a marriage, replete with an intimacy of detail that fully reveals the talents and failings of this larger-than-life man, his complicated relationships, and his profound loves and losses.

What It Used to Be Like brings to light for the first time Raymond Carver's lost years and the "stories behind the stories" of this most brilliant writer.

Review:

"Though it's the relationship with Tess Gallagher during the last years of his life that most people remember, the majority of Raymond Carver's literary accomplishments took place during his 25-year marriage to his high school sweetheart. But while her story offers some biographical insights into how short stories like 'Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?' were created, it's essentially a cliche-filled tale of the artist's suffering wife. During their honeymoon, he tells her that if he had to choose between her and writing, he'd take the writing. She doesn't get the hint, and time after time she winds up dropping out of college so she can support her family as Raymond struggles through creative writing programs and, later, alcoholism (years later, she recognizes her behavior as classic co-dependency). Their personal dramas, ranging from a string of crummy landlords to revelations of extramarital affairs, are presented in embarrassingly stiff dialogue, as are Maryann's occasional insights into Raymond's literary ambitions. 'I like these people,' he says of the working classes. 'Maybe I'll be able to tell their stories as well as anyone.' For all its intimate and frequently unpleasant details, her memoir doesn't explain how he succeeded. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Maryann Burk Carver has produced a memoir of exceptional poignancy, a passionate and ultimately tragic life story that would still be fascinating even if it did not feature the American Chekhov as its leading man." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Though Carver's story is the carrot that will pull in most readers, in many ways the most interesting tale here is Burk's: How a powerful and intelligent woman sacrificed many of her own dreams to feed those of her husband." Seattle Times

Review:

"Maryann portrays a great American writer, illuminates a key chapter in the history of American literature, and presents powerful testimony to the dark side of both creativity and working-class life." Booklist

Review:

"Ray Carver had a brilliant and heartbreakingly brief career. Eighteen years after his death, we still miss him like crazy. Maryann Carver, his first wife, tells the story of how she and he fell through the ice with honesty and considerable courage." William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky and The Best Short Stories of William Kittredge

Review:

"Raymond Carver fans will welcome this up-close, very personal glimpse into the life of the talented but troubled writer." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

Maryann Burk Carver met Raymond Carver in 1955, when she was fifteen-years-old and he seventeen. In What It Used to be Like, Maryann Burk Carver recounts a tale of love at first sight in which the two teenagers got to know each other by sharing a two year long-distance correspondence that soon after found them married and with two small children.

 

Over the next twenty-five years, as Carver's fame grew, the family led a nomadic life, moving from school to school, teaching post to teaching post. Finally, in 1972, they settled in Cupertino, California where Raymond Carver gave his wife one of his sharpened pencils and bade her to write an account of their history. The result is a breathtaking memoir of a marriage replete with the intimacy of detail that fully reveals the illnesses and talents of this larger than life man, his complicated relationships, and his profound loves and losses.

What It Used to Be Like brings to light, for the first time, Raymond Carver's lost years and stories and the "stories behind the stories" of this most brilliant writer.

 

MARYANN BURK CARVER married Raymond Carver when she was sixteen and he was nineteen. They were married for twenty-five years, and had two children, Christi and Vance. Maryann Burk Carver is a teacher living on Lummi Island in Washington State.

"Maryann covers the tumultuous circumstances of her 18 years of marriage to Raymond Carver in page after page that may be easily construed as plot outlines for Carver's early short story masterpieces."

--Sam Halpert, author of Raymond Carver: An Oral Biography and A Real Good War

"Ray Carver had a brilliant and heartbreakingly brief career. Seventeen years after his death, we still miss him like crazy. Mary Ann Carver, his first wife, tells the story of how she and he fell through the ice with honesty and considerable courage."

--William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky and The Best Short Stories of William Kittredge

 

"The marriage between Ray carver and Maryann Burk which commenced when they were teenagers and lasted 25 years, was absurd, tenacious, and sometimes cruel. There was much partying and aimless wandering. Unfathomable decisions were made. Yet the marriage was also the bedrock beneath a small earthquake in the American short story A humble agent transubstantiational in its effect. This is a dear, sturdy, disarming memoir which proves, at the very least, that even dead 18 years, the masterful Ray Carver knows how to keep the love of a good woman.

--Joy Williams, author of The Quick and the Dead and Honored Guest

 

"A testimony of a marriage as well as a portrait of an artist before becoming 'The Author.'  It is the story of the hunger for education, the necessity of art, in the lives of the working poor. I hope it helps dispel myths about working-class writers, about the creative/destructive spirit, about violence and love. For folks who live paycheck to paycheck, for readers whose books are all stamped 'Property of the Public Library,' this story is only too familiar."

--Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street and Caramelo

 

 "Good writers write what they know, but great writers show us what they know to be true.  Raymond and Maryann Burk Carver dared to be great in America and, in the end, both paid a terrible price.  'It's an amazing life, an amazing life,' Raymond Carver once said.  Indeed it was.  And it will break your heart because, like all great stories, it is true."

--Diane Smith, author of Letters from Yellowstone and Pictures from an Expedition

 

"Raymond Carver is one of the very best writer's of the late 20th century.  He met his first wife, Maryann Burk, when he was sixteen and she was fourteen.  Her memoir of their nearly twenty-five years together is an incredible account not only of their relationship, but also of Carver's development as a writer.  It is indispensable to anyone who cares about Carver's work."

--Stephen Dobyns                                                                   

About the Author

MARYANN BURK CARVER married Raymond Carver when she was sixteen and he was nineteen. They were married for twenty-five years, and had two children, Christi and Vance. Maryann Burk Carver is a teacher living on Lummi Island in Washington State.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312332587
Subtitle:
A Portrait of My Marriage to Raymond Carver
Author:
Carver, Maryann
Author:
Carver, Maryann Burk
Publisher:
St. Martin's Griffin
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Married people
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
General Biography
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20070710
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes 40 bandw photos throughout
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9.50x6.48x1.15 in. 1.44 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

What It Used to Be Like: A Portrait of My Marriage to Raymond Carver Used Hardcover
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$9.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages St. Martin's Press - English 9780312332587 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Though it's the relationship with Tess Gallagher during the last years of his life that most people remember, the majority of Raymond Carver's literary accomplishments took place during his 25-year marriage to his high school sweetheart. But while her story offers some biographical insights into how short stories like 'Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?' were created, it's essentially a cliche-filled tale of the artist's suffering wife. During their honeymoon, he tells her that if he had to choose between her and writing, he'd take the writing. She doesn't get the hint, and time after time she winds up dropping out of college so she can support her family as Raymond struggles through creative writing programs and, later, alcoholism (years later, she recognizes her behavior as classic co-dependency). Their personal dramas, ranging from a string of crummy landlords to revelations of extramarital affairs, are presented in embarrassingly stiff dialogue, as are Maryann's occasional insights into Raymond's literary ambitions. 'I like these people,' he says of the working classes. 'Maybe I'll be able to tell their stories as well as anyone.' For all its intimate and frequently unpleasant details, her memoir doesn't explain how he succeeded. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Maryann Burk Carver has produced a memoir of exceptional poignancy, a passionate and ultimately tragic life story that would still be fascinating even if it did not feature the American Chekhov as its leading man."
"Review" by , "Though Carver's story is the carrot that will pull in most readers, in many ways the most interesting tale here is Burk's: How a powerful and intelligent woman sacrificed many of her own dreams to feed those of her husband."
"Review" by , "Maryann portrays a great American writer, illuminates a key chapter in the history of American literature, and presents powerful testimony to the dark side of both creativity and working-class life."
"Review" by , "Ray Carver had a brilliant and heartbreakingly brief career. Eighteen years after his death, we still miss him like crazy. Maryann Carver, his first wife, tells the story of how she and he fell through the ice with honesty and considerable courage."
"Review" by , "Raymond Carver fans will welcome this up-close, very personal glimpse into the life of the talented but troubled writer."
"Synopsis" by ,
Maryann Burk Carver met Raymond Carver in 1955, when she was fifteen-years-old and he seventeen. In What It Used to be Like, Maryann Burk Carver recounts a tale of love at first sight in which the two teenagers got to know each other by sharing a two year long-distance correspondence that soon after found them married and with two small children.

 

Over the next twenty-five years, as Carver's fame grew, the family led a nomadic life, moving from school to school, teaching post to teaching post. Finally, in 1972, they settled in Cupertino, California where Raymond Carver gave his wife one of his sharpened pencils and bade her to write an account of their history. The result is a breathtaking memoir of a marriage replete with the intimacy of detail that fully reveals the illnesses and talents of this larger than life man, his complicated relationships, and his profound loves and losses.

What It Used to Be Like brings to light, for the first time, Raymond Carver's lost years and stories and the "stories behind the stories" of this most brilliant writer.

 

MARYANN BURK CARVER married Raymond Carver when she was sixteen and he was nineteen. They were married for twenty-five years, and had two children, Christi and Vance. Maryann Burk Carver is a teacher living on Lummi Island in Washington State.

"Maryann covers the tumultuous circumstances of her 18 years of marriage to Raymond Carver in page after page that may be easily construed as plot outlines for Carver's early short story masterpieces."

--Sam Halpert, author of Raymond Carver: An Oral Biography and A Real Good War

"Ray Carver had a brilliant and heartbreakingly brief career. Seventeen years after his death, we still miss him like crazy. Mary Ann Carver, his first wife, tells the story of how she and he fell through the ice with honesty and considerable courage."

--William Kittredge, author of Hole in the Sky and The Best Short Stories of William Kittredge

 

"The marriage between Ray carver and Maryann Burk which commenced when they were teenagers and lasted 25 years, was absurd, tenacious, and sometimes cruel. There was much partying and aimless wandering. Unfathomable decisions were made. Yet the marriage was also the bedrock beneath a small earthquake in the American short story A humble agent transubstantiational in its effect. This is a dear, sturdy, disarming memoir which proves, at the very least, that even dead 18 years, the masterful Ray Carver knows how to keep the love of a good woman.

--Joy Williams, author of The Quick and the Dead and Honored Guest

 

"A testimony of a marriage as well as a portrait of an artist before becoming 'The Author.'  It is the story of the hunger for education, the necessity of art, in the lives of the working poor. I hope it helps dispel myths about working-class writers, about the creative/destructive spirit, about violence and love. For folks who live paycheck to paycheck, for readers whose books are all stamped 'Property of the Public Library,' this story is only too familiar."

--Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street and Caramelo

 

 "Good writers write what they know, but great writers show us what they know to be true.  Raymond and Maryann Burk Carver dared to be great in America and, in the end, both paid a terrible price.  'It's an amazing life, an amazing life,' Raymond Carver once said.  Indeed it was.  And it will break your heart because, like all great stories, it is true."

--Diane Smith, author of Letters from Yellowstone and Pictures from an Expedition

 

"Raymond Carver is one of the very best writer's of the late 20th century.  He met his first wife, Maryann Burk, when he was sixteen and she was fourteen.  Her memoir of their nearly twenty-five years together is an incredible account not only of their relationship, but also of Carver's development as a writer.  It is indispensable to anyone who cares about Carver's work."

--Stephen Dobyns                                                                   

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