Short Story #269: Kindling by Raymond Carver

Title:  Kindling 

Author:  Raymond Carver


Raymond Carver.  Source:
Myers has just gotten out of rehab for drinking.  His wife is done with him and so with nowhere to go, he rents a room from Sol and Bonnie near the ocean.  Sol has a withered hand and Bonnie is a larger woman.  They welcome him to the house and show him the room.  They ask Myers but he keeps his comments brief and simple.  The room is small but has the essentials and a river can be heard from the room.  Myers takes the room and Sol and Bonnie leave him to the room.  He unpacks as the couple go back to watching TV.  He starts to write a letter but finds what he wrote to be bad and tosses it.  Meanwhile Bonnie and Sol chat and Sol believes he's on the run from something but isn't dangerous.  Bonnie thinks he has the saddest eyes she's ever seen.  Bonnie starts to think about how she would write about him since she is an aspiring writer.  The two retire to the bedroom and have sex but Bonnie is thinking about Myers the whole time.  Afterwards, the whole house falls into sleep, dreaming about things they cannot have.  In the morning begins a routine, where Myers stays in his room until the two have left the house for the day.  They regularly invite him to breakfast and other activities like watching TV, but he tends to stay away.  Sol and Bonnie regularly try to find out more about him but his details are few.  However, Myer's focus is on writing a letter to his wife. One afternoon, a truck arrives and drops off a large pile of wood.  Sol explains that it's to be cut up and stacked.  Myers offers to cut it up even though Sol can't pay.  While Sol and Bonnie have dinner, he does overhear that they did have money for him but this also confirmed that Myers didn't have much else to do.  After dinner, Sol shows him how to use the power saw to cut the wood.  Sol also shows him how to split wood with an ax for kindling.  Myers takes very quickly to cutting the wood and this stimulates some writing for him that night.  He spends the night slightly excited to go work.  The next day he sets to work on the woodpile, taking a break for lunch.  He sweats, gets splinters, and blisters but cannot stop.  He is determined to finish the pile by nightfall.  Bonnie and Sol come home and have dinner while Myers continues on.  He comes in just as they are finishing dinner and says that he's finished but will clean up the sawdust in the morning.  He also explains that he'll be leaving in the next day or two to which Bonnie tells him there is no refund on the room.  Myers is fine with this.  He goes to the bathroom to wash up.  He returns to his room and begins writing some of his experience before going to bed.  


Carver breathes a lot into this story and the idea of how to kindle a fire.  Myers is nursing a fire to reconnect with his wife and yet by story's end, he has kindled a fire quite different.  He may still write to her but it seems like it will be a profoundly different letter than what he set out to do.  

Short Story #269 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  8/1/2014
Source:  The short story can be found at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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