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What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love


by Raymond Carver

Analysis: Writing Style


Readers immediately notice that this story is made up of big chunks of dialogue with almost no description or commentary from our dear narrator, Nick. When it comes to interpreting, we readers are left to our own devices. Lucky us.

But that's fine. With all this dialogue, we've got plenty of material to work with. We can learn a ton about our man Mel and his wife Terri. Just look at the way the guy talks.

In the beginning, he's familiar, a little snarky, but also friendly and full of fondness. He says of his wife, "Terri's a romantic. Terri's of the 'Kick-me-so-I'll-know-you-love-me' school. Terri, hon, don't look that way" (5). He's not deep into the gin, so he has control over his words, and is nice to his wife.

But later, after a few more gins and tonics, he's not so nice. Here's Mel, speaking about his ex-wife: "She's allergic to bees, […] If I'm not praying she'll get married again, I'm praying she'll get herself stung to death by a swarm of fucking bees."

While we think Mel should probably lay off the gin for a while, we can't help but admire Carver's skill with words. In just a subtle change in conversation, he manages to show us a huge transformation in character.

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