Carol Sklenicka (born 1948 in San Luis Obispo, California) 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. While raising her two children, Katherine Ryan and Robert Ryan, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin she taught literature and creative writing at Marquette University and at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. She now devotes herself to writing and rural living near the Russian River in northern California with poet and novelist R. M. Ryan, author of Vaudeville in the Dark and There's a Man with a Gun Over There and 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, chose not 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 (not to mention sometimes dangerous) 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".
Among the journals to which Sklenicka has contributed are Confrontation, South Atlantic Quarterly, Iowa Woman, and Sou'wester. She is an active member of Biographers International Organization.
Sklenicka is currently writing a biography of short-story writer and novelist Alice Adams.