Soul Barnacles

Ten More Years with Ray
Tess Gallagher
Greg Simon, Editor
Documents that chronicle the story of a literary partnership and marriage that did not end with death


This bittersweet collection of diary entries, memoirs, essays, letters, and poetry celebrates the marriage and literary partnership of the late fiction writer Raymond Carver (1938---1988) and the poet Tess Gallagher. Soul Barnacles is both literary history and love story, chronicling the way a surviving partner carries forward the life and work of her mate while pursuing her own life and literary endeavors. These essays, letters, and interviews, written after Carver's untimely death, explore the inextricable bonds that linked their lives and their writing.

The book opens with excerpts from a journal of the couple's last trip to Europe and a selection of Gallagher's introductions to Carver's posthumous collections. The next section focuses primarily on Gallagher's engagement with the filming of Short Cuts, a film directed by Robert Altman and based on Carver's short stories. Gallagher's recounting provides a rare, quietly dramatic look at a poet's experience in Hollywood, determined to see the dignified transformation of one art form into another. Following are a number of interviews that touch on the grieving process, the solitude and intensity of a writer's life, and the ways in which Gallagher's relationship with Carver has continued to evolve, even after death. The collection, richly illustrated with photographs of Carver and Gallagher during their all-too-brief time together, ends with "I Asked That a Prayer," an original poem by Tess Gallagher, and a complete listing of the published work of this remarkable literary couple.

Tess Gallagher's poetry collections include Portable Kisses, Instructions to the Double, Moon Crossing Bridge, and Willingly. She is also author of the short-story collections At the Owl Woman Saloon and The Lover of Horses and the essay collection A Concert of Tenses.

Praise / Awards

  • "The journal entries, letters, forewords to books, interviews, and essays gathered here don't pretend to afford a systematic view of their life together, but individual pieces result in a more profound depth of perception that [sic] any system could ever provide. Soul Barnacles will find an obvious audience in students of contemporary literature, but its various parts tell a larger story of love and loss, ruin and repair; it details a relationship so intense, both before and after the death of one of its members, as to be more than of merely critical interest."
    --Library Journal, February 1, 2001
  • ". . . brings together journal entries, essays, letters and poetry that celebrate Gallagher's life with Carver, mourn the depth of her loss and examine how she has reinterpreted her grief to lead a productive and meaningful decade-plus since then. . . . Vibrant, thoughtful, graceful, honest, howlingly funny and crushingly sad--before I drown 'Soul Barnacles' in an ocean of adjectival praise, perhaps I should simply thank Gallagher and the book's editor (Portland poet/translator Greg Simon) for a book of dignity and transcendence."
    --Barbara Lloyd McMichael, Olympian; Tacoma News Tribune, May 13, 2001; May 20, 2001

Product Details

  • 5-3/8 x 8.
  • 264pp.
  • 2 drawings, 13 photographs.
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Sales Restrictions

Our edition is available in Unites States, United Kingdom


  • Paper
  • 2003
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08912-3

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  • $26.95 U.S.