The characters in Raymond Carver’s stories see love in different ways. Carver wrote many short stories including “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” and “Where I’m Calling From” in which the characters discuss what love means to them and how their relationships have failed or succeeded. Due to his own life experiences, Raymond Carver wrote about the complications caused by love and alcohol abuse. The second collection of short stories by Raymond Carver was titled after one of the stories, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. Critic Laurie Champion states, “The story involves discussions between two couples about the essence of romantic love” (Champion 2). “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” is a story about
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The elderly couple, who were married for many years, end up in critical condition and the husband is devastated because he could not simply turn his head and look at his wife due to his full body cast. Mel asserts that the story “ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love” (Carver 178). Mel uses this story to emphasize his point that even though he and Terri have been married five years, they do not realize what real love is. Critic Laurie Champion states “Mel explains that the old man became depressed not because he was injured, but because he could not see his wife through the holes in his cast” (Champion 2). Champion is commenting on Mel’s point that his and Terri’s love at this stage in their relationship is no comparison for the love that grows stronger and deeper with time. Carver leaves a lasting question with the reader… Do we really know what love is, even when we think we are certain?
In the same way that love occupies the thoughts of the characters in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”, love and alcohol consumes the minds on the recovering alcoholics in “Where I’m Calling From”. Drawn from what Raymond Carver calls the most important day in his life, June 2, 1977, the day he committed to being sober, “Where I’m Calling From” takes place at an Alcohol Rehabilitation Center. Critic Jennifer Bouchard states that “Where I am