Scissors : A Novel by Stéphane Michaka (2013, Hardcover)
Based on the life of the great short-story writer Raymond Carver, particularly his last ten years, Scissors is a funny, compassionate, and convincing portrayal of the creative life: its compulsions, rewards, and frustrations, and its affinities with tragedy.
Raymond is a writer whose life is fraught with personal and creative struggle. His first marriage, to Marianne, is intense, passionate, and unhealthy. After his divorce, he finds new love and support with Joanne, a poet. All the while, Raymond is in an escalating conflict with his editor, Douglas, who both enhances and distorts Raymond’s work. As his success and confidence grow, Raymond strives harder and harder to ensure that his stories are published as written, with his past drinking and his previous life with Marianne always lurking in the background. Douglas thinks the stories are as much his as Raymond’s and is determined that only his, heavily edited, versions will appear in print. While Raymond considers his stories the most important part of his life, Marianne and Joanne claim stakes in them as well, leading to a dramatic and unexpected final confrontation with the man known as “Scissors.”
In this brilliantly inventive novel, Michaka crafts a searing tale about the struggles and sacrifices one must endure for both love and art.
From Publishers Weekly
Delving into the relationship between Raymond Carver and his editor, this novel from Michaka plods ponderously through a morass of sources (duly noted in the bibliography) in order to offer an unremarkable reconstruction of the difficult and critical period before the acclaimed short-story writer made it to the big time. The alternating first-person monologues, featuring Carver, his editor, and Carver’s first wife, Maryann Burk (Marianne), are laborious and stilted. The conversational quality remains elusive, so redundant are the dialogues and so monothematic the characters’ preoccupations. Interspersing a few of Carver’s own short stories into the mix is the final blow, obliterating any lingering illusion of a narrative. This isn’t to say the novel fails as an enlightening foray into the already notorious dynamic between a talented writer and his arrogant, conceited editor. What writer hasn’t dreamed of telling a particularly ruthless editor his cuts amount to Two and a half pages of con artistry. Some cunning tricks to take the reader in…. A cold wind blows through it from beginning to end. Michaka’s conclusion—that Carver’s success may not have been worth it—is valid; too bad his argument is so lifeless. (Aug.)
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Nan A. Talese (August 13, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385537492
- ISBN-13: 9780385537490
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces