Collectors – Raymond Carver
Taken from the collection ‘Will You Please Be Quiet Please’.
“Like many compelling short stories ‘Collectors by Raymond Carver’ teases our assumptions about the characters involved. From the moment Aubery Bell, a vacuum salesman, comes knocking at the door the reader is led to make judgments about him, his motivations and the man who answers the door.
This is the Slaters’ house and we assume it is Mr. Slater who reluctantly lets the salesman in to the house whilst his wife is out at work. The man, we are told, is lazing at home waiting for a letter that might bring him his next offer of employment. It is our assumption of these things – rather than the commentator’s explicit direction – that keeps us on our toes. And to extend the trite metaphor, continues to wrong foot us throughout the story.
There are the themes of loneliness and waiting throughout the story. Bell continues to persevere with his complimentary demonstration despite every indication that he won’t see any money for his trouble. You’ve got to ask why he carries on regardless. Whilst the man in the house is consumed with his role waiting for his letter. The suggestion that both characters are ‘somehow stuck’ in their circumstances pervades throughout and is maintained right to the reveal at the end.”
The SHORT TALE Review 2016