The symbolic significance of vice in Raymond Carver's What we talk about when we talk about love: blue-collar despair transcending class distinction
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Raymond Carver's literary reputation is often defined as a minimalist writer who is known for his ability to effectively chronicle blue-collar despair. Because of his affinity to focus on characters of a lower class background, his fiction has occasionally been mislabeled by critical readers as “K-Mart Realism,” “Hick Chic,” “Postliterate Literature,” or “White Trash Fiction” (Saltzman 5). And indeed he does, as critic and Carver scholar Arthur Saltzman notes, “depict working-class conditions with genuine sympathy and authority” (2), but to assume that the audience Carver depicts is the only audience that he is writing to is to seriously undermine his literary dexterity. It is undoubted that Carver, rising out of the muck of his early life to become a successful writer later on, can be labeled as champion of these lower classes. His struggles that eventually led to his later awards and accomplishments have a charming Cinderella ring to them. His representations of the lower-class setting in his fiction have led to worldwide attention of his work and in turn, universal recognition of the plight of his characters. His is a world any reader can empathize with.