Raymond Carver (1938-1988)

Chef’s House

Written after he had stopped drinking himself, Carver’s  Chef’s House is a reflective piece about the fragility of the recovering alcoholic, and deals with the impact of alcoholism on loved ones, second chances and tiny things that tip the balance.


You get to know someone at work, you get on, you pass the time of day, you wonder about socialising with them outside of work, and then they take the step and invite you and your partner to supper. You say yes.  But it’s not quite right somehow, you get through the evening, you admire the ugly baby, you pretend that allowing a peacock to roam the house is normal, you thank you lucky stars that your life is different, and yet they have something you don’t. As the weeks pass, you don’t return the invitation.  Things return to the way they were  at work, the visit isn’t mentioned, but at home something’s changed, very subtly, almost indistinguishably, and there’s no winding the clock back, now that the idea of a baby is accepted.  A story so loaded with life it’s almost impossible to describe it.

Chef’s House and Feathers were both taken from Cathedral published in 1983.

Read Feathers here and listen to the New Yorker podcast with David Mean’s reading Chef’s House here



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