Richard Ford Reads Raymond Carver’s ‘The Student’s Wife’; One of 14 Podcasts of Famous Writers Reading a Favorite Story

The Guardian recent­ly asked a group of dis­tin­guished authors to read one of their favorite short sto­ries. The result­ing pod­cast series began appear­ing on the news­pa­per’s Web site last Fri­day and will con­tin­ue through the 4th of Jan­u­ary. A few of the writ­ers chose wide­ly rec­og­nized mas­ter­pieces. Many select­ed more obscure works. So far, there are pod­casts of Zadie Smith read­ing “Umber­to Buti” by Giuseppe Pon­tig­gia, Ruth Ren­dell read­ing “Canon Alber­ic’s Scrap­book” by M.R. James, Simon Cal­low Read­ing “The Christ­mas Tree” by Charles Dick­ens, and Nadine Gordimer read­ing “The Cen­taur” by José Sara­m­a­go.

The Amer­i­can writer Richard Ford (The Sports­writer, Inde­pen­dence Day, Rock Springs) chose to read “The Stu­den­t’s Wife” by his late friend Ray­mond Carv­er. The sto­ry was first pub­lished in Amer­i­ca in 1976, in Carver’s debut short sto­ry col­lec­tion, Will You Please Be Qui­et, Please. It exem­pli­fies Carver’s direct, eco­nom­i­cal style. But don’t make the mis­take of call­ing Carv­er a “min­i­mal­ist” around Ford. He describes the sto­ry, and the rich­ness of Carver’s writ­ing, in The Guardian:

Its ver­bal resources are spare, direct, rarely poly­syl­lab­ic, restrained, intense, nev­er melo­dra­mat­ic, and real-sound­ing while being obvi­ous­ly lit­er­ary in intent. (You always know, plea­sur­ably, that you’re read­ing a made short sto­ry.) These affect­ing qual­i­ties led some dun­der­heads to call his sto­ries “min­i­mal­ist”, which they are most assured­ly not, inas­much as they’re full-to-the-brim with the stuff of human inti­ma­cy, of long­ing, of bare­ly unearth­able humour, of exquis­ite nuance, of pathos, of unlooked-for dred, and often of love–expressed in words and ges­tures not fre­quent­ly asso­ci­at­ed with love. More than they are min­i­mal, they are replete with the renew­ings and the fresh aware­ness­es we go to great lit­er­a­ture to find.

You can lis­ten to Ford’s read­ing of “The Stu­den­t’s Wife” below, and fol­low the rest of the sto­ries as they appear through Jan. 4, along with intro­duc­tions by the authors who select­ed them, at The Guardian.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The New Yorker’s Fic­tion Pod­cast: Where Great Writ­ers Read Sto­ries by Great Writ­ers

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