Writing Home


"All over English Canada when we WASPs affirm something, we say "yes." A terse syllable hissing from a mouth that moves almost grudgingly. This ultimate affirmation, this word that commands the blood to rush down- ward and release all of God's tumescence in a pledge of love. Yes? We move our lips so slightly that the word hardly issues at all. This is not an affirmation. It is at best a furtive nod towards a workable compromise among people who want to keep their teeth warm and out of the wind.
         But oui. My waitress purses her lips as if to whistle and they part in a burst that melts the snow and celebrates the whiteness of teeth and all the liquid wonder of her mouth. Oui. She cannot say this word without kissing the air between herself and me."

This book is a selection of Carpenter's literary and personal essays. Many of these were previously published in such diverse places as Saturday Night, Descant, Canadian Literature, Western Living, and William Stull's biographical anthology of Raymond Carver, Remembering Ray.

Selected Essays

Minding Your Manners in Paradise

The Word According to Carp

What We Talk about When We Talk about Carver

Hoovering to Byzantium


Writing Home cover


mp3Reading Excerpts



Critical Response

Carpenter's personal essays . . . grow out of common-sense prairie grit, erudition and a remarkable artistic grace. These pieces sprout unpredictably and recall the original French word essai, or attempt, wherein the writer is travelling without a map and may at any minute lose his way. No need to send out any earch parties for Carpenter, though. His instincts guide him--and us--unerringly through uncharted terrain that ranges from goose-shooting with U.S. writer Raymond Carver to probing the intellectual complexities of plagiarism. The . . . Carver essay is a beautifully made country song that binds informal literary commentary with compelling literary sketches and an unforgettable sense of place.

- George Galt, Globe & Mail

David Carpenter's collection of essays has received appropriate literary acclaim throughout the country and, in truth, this is a remarkable work, profound yet remarkably readable, often deeply moving and a constant delight. Most of the essays deal with literature, authors, and specific books but Carpenter's . . . strength . . . is his avoidance of literary jargon and literary theory that fails to appreciate life's mystery. Carpenter's sense of the numinous... and literature's attempt to render it remain palpable in these essays.

- Roger Bakes, SLA

Carpenter casts a fresh eye on the work of many Canadian writers, including Atwood, Richler, Davies, Laurence, Mitchell, and Sinclair Ross. The wilderness writing of . . . Georges Bugnet . . . is also explored for its geopious wisdom. If subtlety is occasionally forfeited in the interest of plain talk in Writing Home, what is never lost is an honest passion for writing and the place that David Carpenter calls home.

- Helen Hacksel, Books in Canada

Carpenter writes about writing with such infectious enthusiasm and plain-spoken insight that his interests easily become ours as well.

- Jerry Horton, Quill & Quire


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