First edition cover, 1983
Cathedral was enthusiastically received by critics. In The New York Times book Review, critic Irving Howe wrote:
Mr. Carver has been mostly a writer of strong but limited effects - the sort of writer who shapes and twists his material to a high point of stylization. In his newest collection of stories, Cathedral, there are a few that suggest he is moving toward a greater ease of manner and generosity of feeling; but in most of his work it's his own presence, the hard grip of his will, that is the strongest force. It's not that he imposes moral or political judgments; in that respect, he's quite self-effacing. It's that his abrupt rhythms and compressions come to be utterly decisive."
The collection contains the following stories:
- "Chef's House"
- "The Compartment"
- "A Small, Good Thing" - An extended version of his earlier short story "The Bath".
- "Where I'm Calling From"
- "The Train"
- "The Bridle"
- "Cathedral" - Narrated by a man whose wife is old friends with a blind man, the story shows the husband/narrator's distaste for the blind man who is coming to visit him and his wife for a few days. At times it seems that the man is jealous of the blind man for being so close to his wife; at other times it seems that the husband is disgusted by the man's blindness. In the end they bond in a way through the communication they share about what a cathedral looks like.
- Carver, Raymond. Cathedral New York: Knopf (1983); London: Collins (1984)
- Irving Howe, "Stories of Our Loneliness," The New York Times Book Review, September 11, 1983.
- Stephen King on Raymond Carver in The New York Times Book Review
- Irving Howe on Cathedral and "A Small, Good Thing" in The New York Times Book Review
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