Carol Sklenicka is an American biographer and essayist best known as the author of Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life, the first comprehensive biography of short story writer Raymond Carver.
Sklenicka was raised in Santa Maria, California, attended college California State Polytechnic College in San Luis Obispo and received a Ph. D. in English and American literature from Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied with Naomi Lebowitz, Stanley Elkin, and Howard Nemerov, in 1986. She taught writing at Marquette University and at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design prior to devoting herself to full-time writing. She lives near the Russian River in northern California with poet, novelist, and lyricist R. M. Ryan, author of Vaudeville in the Dark and several other books.
The publication of her biography of Carver, which was named one of the Ten Best Books of 2009 by The New York Times Magazine and a notable book by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, and the Seattle Times, followed more than a decade of interviews with Carver's friends, family and writing colleagues. However, Carver's widow, poet Tess Gallagher, refused to be interviewed by Sklenicka. Some critics, most notably novelist Stephen King, writing in The New York Times Book Review, found that Sklenicka displayed "something like awe for Carver the writer" and was "almost nonjudgmental when it comes to Carver the nasty drunk and ungrateful husband," whereas Jason M. Appel, in Ploughshares, said "Carver, as presented by Sklenicka, is a man of profound moral shortcomings." Time found the book "judicious, thorough and sometimes harrowing".