“So Much Water So Close to Home” Summary by Raymond Carver

So Much Water So Close to Home Summary by Raymond Carver
“So Much Water So Close to Home” Summary

“So Much Water So Close to Home” is a short story by Raymond Carver from his 1981 collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. It’s the story of a grim discovery by four men during a fishing trip, and the reaction to how they handled it. Here’s a summary of “So Much Water So Close to Home”. This is the shorter version of the story, not the longer version from Furious Seasons.

“So Much Water So Close to Home” Summary

The narrator’s husband, Stuart, eats at the table. When the phone rings, he says not to answer it. The narrator, Claire, answers it and listens briefly before hanging up.

Stuart is upset that people don’t mind their own business. They all decided together and he doesn’t want Claire judging him. She was dead and they were five miles from their car. Stuart goes into the backyard. Claire intentionally knocks some dishes onto the floor.

Stuart left for a fishing trip to the Naches River last Friday with his friends—Gordon, Mel and Vern—who are all regular family men. They parked in the mountains and hiked to the river with all their gear. Before setting up camp, they saw a girl’s unclothed body in the river wedged in some branches.

They talked about what to do. They decided against going back due to the inconvenience and the fact that the girl wasn’t going anywhere. They set up camp and had a drink. One of them waded in and pulled the girl to shore so she wouldn’t drift away.

The next day they carried out their plans—ate, drank whiskey and coffee, fished, played cards and told stories. The next morning they fished and drank before packing up their gear and hiking back to the car. They drove to a phone where Stuart called the sheriff about the body. They waited for the authorities to come.

When Stuart got home, Claire heard him in the kitchen. He put his arms around her. They went to bed and had relations, but Stuart seemed distracted.

He got up early in the morning. The calls started coming in after eight. He responded angrily and slammed the receiver down. He told Claire the story of what happened.

Claire sweeps up the broken dishes and asks Stuart to go for a drive. The drive in silence. Stuart stops at a roadside market for beer. They go to picnic grounds with a creek and a pond.

Claire asks why they went so far away to fish. She talks about a girl who was killed when she was young. Stuart gets annoyed. He keeps looking in the rear-view mirror as they drive home.

Claire wakes up early but stays in bed, pretending to be asleep. Stuart gets their son, Dean, off to school and then goes to work. Claire has coffee and reads an update in the paper. The body has been identified.

“So Much Water So Close to Home” Summary, Cont’d

Claire goes to get her hair and nails done, saying she has a funeral to go to. She sleeps on the sofa that night. She fixes breakfast in the morning for Stuart and Dean. When they leave she dresses carefully and leaves a note for Dean.

Claire drives through farm country then to the mountains. She can see the Naches River below. A pickup drives close behind her for miles. Before finally passing, the male driver toots his horn and waves.

Claire pulls over. The pickup comes back. She locks everything. He knocks on the glass, asks if she’s all right and tells her to roll down the window. He looks at her body and calls her “sugar”.

The funeral proceedings begin as soon as Claire sits down. It’s a closed casket. The family comes in. A blond man says prayers for the living and the departed. Everyone files past the casket and goes outside. A woman says the police arrested a boy in town this morning. Claire steadies herself against a parking meter.

Arriving home, Claire is suddenly worried about Dean, but he’s just outside. Stuart puts his arm around Claire and starts unbuttoning her jacket and blouse. Claire is distracted by the sound of water. She says to hurry before Dean comes in.

I hope this summary of “So Much Water So Close to Home” by Raymond Carver was helpful.