The NGY Review, April 5, 2020
Raymond Carver’s story, “So Much Water So Close to Home,” is examined through Baxter’s essay on stillness from Burning Down the House. Baxter approaches the concept of “stillness” in fiction by describing it as “expressive air pockets of dead silence.” Carver’s supreme short story on how the death of a young woman can transform the lives of strangers seems to be a good example to hold up to Baxter’s inquiry. However, Carver fails to deliver on Baxter’s ideals of a fictional or literary “stillness.” Instead, he peppers his prose with silence throughout his story, in his characters, with a stillness not quite benign. It is an active type of stillness, yet artificial. It is described here how Carver has succumbed to a very American “stillness framed by violence.” Other authors are described as more aptly fitting Baxter’s ideal of stillness in fiction.