Monday, 16 June 2008

"Cathedral" by Raymond Carver (Short Story)

This is the first short story I have read as partof my participation in A Curious Singularity, a blog in which they read a short story each month.
This month the chosen short story was 'Cathedral' by Raymond Carver. I have read his short story collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love last year so I was expecting something great and that is what I got.
There will be spoilers in this from now on so if your planning on reading it or would like to read it first click on the title, it is just a few pages long.
In the story the narrator appears a little unfriendly from the start, too blunt and very negative. He spends the first part of the story complaining about how he has his wife's friend, a blind man, coming to stay for a few days. I got the feeling he would have been grouchy however was coming to stay, but he felt particuarly put out because the guest was blind. He also seemed put out as his wife and the blind man seem to have a very close relationship, something you just can't imagine the narrator having.
When the guest arrives the narrator feels very awkward with him, and resorts to turning on the TV as a destraction, the wife falls asleep and the men are forced to communicate. On the TV there is a show about Cathedrals and he realises the blind man has no idea what a cathedral is. After failing to describe it well, he draws a picture of it with the blind man following his hand movements. This moment of touch and the drawing of the cathedral seems to wake the narrator up to life and where he is.

I found this was a really good read, the voice of the narrator is well played out in the sparseness of the tone. It also really reminded me of an English lesson I taught with a young blind boy, the children where talking about their past time and we realised he had no concept of golf or fishing, what happened, how big the golf ball was etc. His mentor managed to bring in some golfing gear to let him feel and we tried our best to describe a fishing rod but it was a lot harder than I had imagined it would be.

For another review of the story check out A Work in Progress

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