Carol Sklenicka

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Carol Sklenicka is an American biographer, literary scholar, and essayist best known as the author of Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life, the first comprehensive biography of short story writer Raymond Carver.[1][2][3]

Sklenicka grew up in Santa Maria, California, graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California in 1971, and received a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied with Naomi Lebowitz, Stanley Elkin, and Howard Nemerov, in 1986. She taught literature and creative writing at Marquette University and at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. She now devotes herself to writing, environmental activism, and rural living near the Russian River in northern California with poet and novelist R. M. Ryan, author of Vaudeville in the Dark, There's a Man with a Gun Over There, The Lost Roads Adventure Club, and other books.[4]

The publication of her biography of Carver, which was named one of the Ten Best Books of 2009 by The New York Times Magazine and a notable book by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, and the Seattle Times, followed more than a decade of interviews with Carver's friends, family and writing colleagues.[5] However, Carver's widow, poet Tess Gallagher, chose not to be interviewed by Sklenicka.[5] Some critics, most notably novelist Stephen King, writing in The New York Times Book Review, found that Sklenicka displayed "something like awe for Carver the writer" and was "almost nonjudgmental when it comes to Carver the nasty drunk and ungrateful (not to mention sometimes dangerous) husband,"[2] whereas Jason M. Appel, in Ploughshares, said "Carver, as presented by Sklenicka, is a man of profound moral shortcomings." Time found the book "judicious, thorough and sometimes harrowing".[6]

Among the journals to which Sklenicka has contributed are Confrontation, South Atlantic Quarterly, Iowa Woman, and Sou'wester. She is an active member of Biographers International Organization.

Sklenicka is currently completing Alice Adams: Portrait of a Writer about the short-story writer and novelist Alice Adams, to be published by Scribner in December 2019.[7]


  1. ^ Los Angeles Daily News Dec 27, 2009
  2. ^ a b King, Stephen. "Raymond Carver’s Life and Stories," The New York Times, Nov. 19, 2009
  3. ^ Henry, DeWitt, Boston Globe, Dec, 20, 2009
  4. ^ Jensen, Geeta Sharma. "Carver fan Sklenicka satisfied her need for biography" Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Nov. 28. 2009.
  5. ^ a b Wiegand, David (December 19, 2009). "Serendipitous stay led writer to Raymond Carver". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  6. ^ Lacayo, Richard. "Man of Constant Sorrow", Time Nov. 23, 2009
  7. ^ Deahl, Rachel. "From Carver to Adams" Publishers Weekly June 21, 2010

External links[edit]


D. H. Lawrence and the Child. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1991.

Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life. New York: Scribner, 2009.