Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Bottoms, Greg


On July 8th, 1980, Raymond Carver wrote an impassioned letter to his editor, Gordon Lish, begging him to cancel the publication of what would soon become Carver’s minimalist masterpiece, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Carver argues in his letter that Lish’s heavily-edited versions of his original stories were bound to cause Carver's death. Despite his anxieties, Carver’s authorial demise didn’t come until 2009, 21 years following his physical death, when the unedited versions of the What We Talk About stories appeared in a posthumous collection called Beginners. Beginners excises Lish’s excisions, exposing a Raymond Carver at odds with his minimalist identity. The “restored” text also displaces Carver as the sole author of his work. We learn from Carver’s effacement that any cultural construction of an author is an erroneous effigy. Beginners exemplifies how textual restorations deflate cultural myths as they work with original texts to enrich our understanding