When creating this blog, I Googled “what we talk about when we talk about life” and was surprised to discover that all of the first page results reverted to Raymond Carver’s collection of short stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, to which the name of this blog is indeed a nod. The stories, including one sharing the collection’s title, deal with love and all that comes with it in a dry, melancholic, and sometimes poignantly, sometimes dissatisfying-ly ambiguous way. I discovered the collection via another titular reference – Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – during both a brief foray into long-distance running and a longer-lasting interest in short stories as an undergrad. The book is a memoir full of musings on writing and running, including stories behind the author’s lengthy journey into a career novelist and ultra-marathon races through the Japanese countryside.
Maybe it was because of this roundabout introduction that I assumed most of the obvious versions of the title would have been used for some other book / article / blog, hence the need to Google before unwittingly encroaching on someone else’s literary territory. There’s still a pretty good chance that it appears somewhere in the cyber wasteland of non-first page results, but seriously, who ever even gets to the second page? Unless you’re looking at pictures of puppies, but Google images now doesn’t even have pages, just a glorious never ending stream of squashy little noses and adoring puppy eyes. There’s no end to the last-word variations of Carver’s title (either intentional or not), including but definitely not limited to: Anne Frank, bubbles (the market kind), the common core, drought, ethics, God, hip hop, metadata, Planned Parenthood, social mobility, the ‘raised hands’ emoji, war, and, the clear winner, capacitance measured with the voltage-clamp step method.