Lit React ~ Analysis & reactions on works of fiction.

4 Mar 2011

(Short Story) One More Thing by: Raymond Carver

(Reaction) (Just) One More Thing (to Take) by: Antonio Conejos

There is a lot of shouting and throwing in Carver's short story One More Thing. The reason for this violence is never stated outright but the reader can readily infer L.D.'s alcoholism. Maxine arrives home to find L.D. drunk, again. Moreover, L.D.'s very first act in the story is to turn a glass in his hand.

L.D. even attempts a feeble defense of his alcoholism although the short story only hints at this. He gets into an argument with Rae over the efficacy and limits of willpower, How about sugar diabetes... What about epilepsy? Can the brain control that? This line of questions implies that he views his alcoholism as something out of his hands. Rae though will have none of that, and insists, Tell him it's all in his head. Anybody who knows anything about it will tell you that's where it is!

Maxine too has had it with L.D. and throws the bum out. Thus while alcoholism sets the premise for One More Thing the story really focuses more on the damaged character of L.D. and what is left unsaid; how he has been a lousy father to Rae, the suffering of Maxine and how L.D. has become a leech on their lives.

Before leaving the house, L.D. takes everything he can possibly lay his hands on. A long litany of the objects he pilfers permeates the story right before his departure. He made his way into the bedroom and took one of her suitcases from the closet... From the nightstand he took magazines for reading material. He took the ashtray. He put everything he could into the suitcase, everything it could hold.

As such, the title of the short story suggests that L.D. will not be satisfied (will not leave) if there is one more thing he can still strip from Maxine and Rae. Simply, he will not leave until there is one more thing still to be taken.

When there is nothing left to take, and nothing left to say, the violence dissipates from him and he leaves, quietly, 'I just want to say one more thing.' But then he could not think what it could possibly be.'

When L.D. has taken everything that he can, the life literally drains from him and he is rendered speechless, immobile. The one thing animating this character then has been his rapacious hold on Maxine and Rae. Once this has been broken, there is nothing left to take or say.

Review:

Personally I don't cotton to Raymond Carver's writing style. It's mostly bleak and depressing and filled with people you wouldn't want to meet. I understand that stories aren't always filled with rainbows and brownies and moral individuals. But every tragedy (and what is more tragic than people being less than that which they can be) should be appended with some, even a modicum of, catharsis. There is none of that though in Carver, just more unrelenting gloom and characters I'd be scared to meet in a dark alley.

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