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The Magic Mountain
Thomas Mann, John E. Woods
The Hooligan's Return: A Memoir
Norman Manea, Angela Jianu
Cathedral - Raymond Carver I can't say that I loved all the stories in this volume, but I was certainly hooked by more than half of them. Most of the stories seem to have a hidden meaning that I could not grasp, so I continued to read more on the net. I'm glad I did, because I found out a bunch of interesting facts about Raymond Carver's life and his stories, which made me better understand his themes and his writing.

He is regarded as "minimalist", being influenced in this respect by his editor Gordon Lish, who would often change the name and the content of his stories. Wiki says:
...where his earlier tutor John Gardner had advised Carver to use fifteen words instead of twenty-five, Gordon Lish instructed Carver to use five in place of fifteen.

The stories in Cathedral are not edited by Lish, but I wonder to which extent his influence had spread upon Carver.

Alcoholism and marriage are two omnipresent themes in his stories, and only when I read about his long years of heavy drinking and about his troubled love life did I understand the importance of his themes.
John Cheever was a drinking buddy and to him he dedicated the story The Train, which is a sequel to Cheever's short story The Five-Forty-Eight. I should read that one too.

Feathers and Preservation gave me a lot to think about and I enjoyed further reading about their meaning. They seem like insignificant slices of life, but there is much more than meets the eye. Don't be contented with just reading the stories, try to find out more and understand them better, it's quite rewarding.