‘Why Don’t You Dance?’ by Raymond Carver

So many Carver stories could have been on this list, but I chose this one because – in only 1600 words or so and set entirely on a driveway where a garage sale is being held by the alcoholic narrator – we see the broken remains of a life, and how important connection is, however minimal that may be. 

A young couple scope out the furniture pieces, possibly to buy for their own apartment, but there are no price tags on any of the items. As the girl is looking through his record collection, they put a song on and dance together.

There is no traditional ‘plot’ and the reader is only drip fed certain tiny, but crucial, elements of information. Nothing is resolved, everything is implied. 

First published in Quarterly West, 1978. This version first published in the Paris Review, 1981. Collected in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Knopf, 1981, and Where I’m Calling From, Atlantic, 1988

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