Carlo Wolff gives glowing review to Newman’s “Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children”

‘Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children’: A Pittsburgh writing teacher’s tender tale

For his second novel, Dave Newman mixes academic angst with domestic affairs for a loving portrait of the city

Writing is a solitary, sedentary process. It’s not inherently dramatic because it is private — except, perhaps, in academia, where Dave Newman’s novel takes place. “Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children” is that rarity, an exciting novel about writing. Mr. Newman tells us about it as both profession and calling through his characters, almost all engaging no matter how shaky.

In his second novel, Mr. Newman writes so naturally you feel like talking to his characters and stepping into their world. He is affectionate toward people and place: Pittsburgh is the setting of this warm, yet hardly fuzzy, book, and Mr. Newman, through his protagonist Dan Charles, romances that city.


Mr. Newman knows about work and self-respect, and he can shred the inauthentic, be it Kentucky Jim or filmmaker Tim Burton, whose “Alice in Wonderland,” seen through the disappointed eyes of Dan and his daughter Abby, comes off as one of the worst movies of all time. Mr. Newman knows his pop culture, whether it’s Johnny Depp, ’70s literary lion Harry Crews or controversial Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, characterized — this is the mildest term — as “ridiculous.”

The local touches and topicality should endear “Raymond Carver” to Pittsburgh literati eager to spot the fact behind the fiction. What makes the book resonate beyond his home base is Mr. Newman’s warmth, his passion for his profession. He doesn’t ennoble it (there are no groves in this academe), and he sets it hard within today’s grinding economy.

Still, family carries.

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