From Raymond Carver’s Late Fragment (inscribed on his tombstone): “And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.”
Back in the ’60s, Raymond Carver worked as a night custodian at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento. He also sat in on classes at Sacramento State. Many of his early stories and poems are set in identifiable Sacramento locations. California State University, Sacramento, published his first book of poems.
Sacramento tugs at my heart. It didn’t always. It’s neither a big city nor a suburb or small town, something I found confusing for the longest time. Until one day I awoke to its minimal flash and lack of pretension. Until I saw that it’s its own hardscrabble thing.
“I’m a paid-in-full member of the working poor,” Carver said in an interview with The New York Times. “I have a great deal of sympathy with them. They’re my people.”
Carver wrote about the lives and struggles of the working poor, the unemployed poor, people on the outside looking in, people rootless and searching.
Have you read any of Carver’s stories? If the answer’s “no,” please give them a whirl. Start with Where I’m Calling From, a collection of his big guns, the 37 best stories from a master of minimalist style and the short story form.
In the end he got what he wanted. And that made him both beloved and truly blessed. Raymond Carver had something to say and worked his ass off in order to make sure he said it. Raymond Carver and writers like him — they’re my people.
To Call Myself Beloved, and to Feel Myself Beloved on the Earth
Raymond Carver’s Late Fragment (inscribed on his tombstone):
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.