Cathedral by Raymond Carver

Now this same blind man was coming to sleep in my house.

“Maybe I could take him bowling,” I said to my wife.

I had a dream come true today. I got to teach Raymond Carver’s Cathedral in class. It’s the first short story I remember that stopped me dead in my tracks (Tom Golden’s Comp II at York College) and every time I read it, it knocks me out. And I get something new too. Like this time, the narrator, in all his insecurity, making jokes that no one thinks are funny. I’m pretty sure I’m that guy from time to time.

I have this song that I wrote that’s a take on Cathedral. It was this sort of obsessive thing I was doing when I was working on my thesis, turning Carver stories into songs. I had grandiose dreams for a Carver record, preferably financed by the Carver Foundation (if such a thing exists). I got through four songs, but the first one I did was Cathedral and it’s the one I still play on a regular basis. It’s from the blind man’s perspective, which was a great exercise for me, trying to get out of the narrator’s (or my own) head to think about stories from different perspectives. Maybe I’ll post it on here sometime.

I played it in class today, which, if I’m honest, was a bit awkward. Students don’t get a choice when you play a song for them–it’s not like they can head to bathroom, like you or I might do at a show if we’re not interested in the act. Plus, it feels a tad slimy–I think all self-promotion feels that way, but it’s particularly uncomfortable in a classroom of people that you’re going to have to look at and give grades to for the next three months. It went over pretty well, I guess. It doesn’t really matter to me. What matters is that they were supposed to read Cathedral. You should too.

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