Where I'm Calling From

"Where I'm Calling From" is a short story and the title of a collection of thirty-seven short stories by American author Raymond Carver. This story, as well as many of his others, focuses on the effects of alcohol. Throughout this story he experiments with use of quotation and focuses on the healing factors of storytelling.

Plot Synopsis

The main character, an unnamed man, has been dropped off at Frank Martin’s alcohol rehabilitation center by his girlfriend, not to be confused with his wife. After arriving he encounters J.P. who starts telling him his story. J.P. is a drunken chimney sweep whose wife has recently dropped him off at Frank Martin’s as well. He tells the story of how he met his wife, Roxy, one afternoon at his friend’s house. She was a chimney sweep that asked to kiss J.P.’s friend when she was done cleaning his chimney when J.P. asked for a kiss as well. As J.P. continues his story it becomes about how alcohol has ruined his marriage to his wife. The story ends with the main character contemplating calling his wife and then calling his girlfriend. The title comes from the last few lines where he says, “There’s no way to make a joke out of this. After I talk to her, I’ll call my girlfriend. Maybe I’ll call her first. I’ll just have to hope I don’t get her kid on the line. “Hello, sugar,” I’ll say when she answers. “It’s me.”

Use of Alcohol

Alcohol and the importance of storytelling both play major roles in this story. J.P.’s story as well as many other alcoholic stories is in a tripartite form. It begins with his great life before the drink, the way the drink affected his marriage, and now with his stay at Frank Martin’s it will include his life after the drink. Frank Martin’s rehabilitation center literally becomes the means of the characters sobriety and it seems that without it they would not be able to dry out.

Carver uses Jack London as a metaphor in this story as well. Jack London lives on the other side of the valley in which Frank Martin’s is located. This makes the men realize that since the drink affected someone as talented and strong as London, they cannot handle it either. He also speaks of the half dog and half wolf creature in The Call of the Wild. Just like this animal the drink makes you half domestic and half wild.

Towards the end of the story Jack London is referred to again in regards to his story "To Build a Fire." This is a metaphor for the main character and J.P. drying out. Building a fire literally gives hope and is a symbol for life. Whether the man will call his wife or his girlfriend is uncertain but perhaps he is just trying to build a fire and create hope and life for himself.


*"Nobody Said Anything"
*"Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes"
*"The Student's Wife"
*"They're Not Your Husband"
*"What Do You Do in San Francisco?"
*"What's in Alaska?"
*"Put Yourself in My Shoes"
*"Why, Honey?"
*"Are These Actual Miles?"
*"One More Thing"
*"Little Things"
*"Why Don't You Dance?"
*"A Serious Talk"
*"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love"
*"The Third Thing That Killed My Father Off"
*"So Much Water So Close To Home"
*"The Calm"
*"Where I'm Calling From"
*"Chef's House"
*"A Small, Good Thing"
*"Whoever Was Using This Bed"
*"Blackbird Pie"

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