I finished Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, finished the titular story and the collection, as we finally left behind a sprawling, half dry salt lake in the middle of Turkey, and shortly after we, from a roadside seller (who, before he saw us pulling in, was reclining in the drivers’ side of his van), bought bags of pistachios and almonds that I liked to think of having been taken from the country’s heart.
The plains around the lake and the salt lake are incredibly flat, the flattest land I’ve seen in my life. For a long time it looked like the milky lake and sky met and the lake opened into the sea. But as we followed the lake’s curve, the land on the other side became clear, putting a dark line between water and sky.
The land appears as if it has been ground down, polished smooth. Not from rain and wind but worn smooth by time, maybe, the lake buffed to a metallic sheen.
Around the salt lake are tufts of thin, sharp grass. Roaming the tree-less plains, much of it divided into patches, are herds of black and brown cattle. Some of the houses on the plains look as if they, too, are being eroded, slowly dismantled, turned into unnatural structures before they fall apart and are forgotten.
My grandfather’s name was Raymond; I like the name and think it sounds noble. Maybe one day I’ll tell his story, or what I know of it. And as I read ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’ I thought I could sense the beginnings of other, more recent US writers, something in the vernacular, in Carver and I wonder how right or wrong this is.
A second lake appears. It runs along the side of the road for a long time before turning sharply and disappearing into the horizon. Ahead, a snow-capped mountain with a cloud draped across its top levitates above the earth.