I will never not make that joke. I will also always give Raymond Carver books 5/5 stars, by default.
Also here: http://www.giuliotortello.it/ebook/cathedral.pdf
Here too: http://christimccurry.weebly.com/uploads/1/8/2/7/18278557/viewfinderbyraymondcarver.pdf
I wasn’t planning on rereading this collection, which I have read several times before, but I signed up for Scribd, which if you use Overdrive or Aubidle, you should definitely do. It’s a paid Overdrive with tons more options (likely) than your library has and nothing is ever checked out. Because I found the audiobook versions of these stories, I might well reread his whole career.
Anyway, you either love Raymond Carver or you don’t. I think the short short stories like two of the ones I posted above are more confirming that love. “Catherdral” is not in this collection, but I think it’s a great access point becuase it’s one of his most fully fleshed out and realized story. I would say the same thing about his story “A Small, Good Thing” of which an earlier, slightly different version appears in this collection as “The Bath.”
His stories are blue-collar, but not Southern, which is an oddly distinct claim about them given how much of our reading of blue collar life comes through either immigrant (first, second or third generation), African American, or Southern white sensibilities. Instead, his stories are Pacific Northwest….where everybody’s white, divorced, recently married, cheating, smoking, drinking, eating, and either working at a store, a factory, or in a sales position. Some are college educated; most are not.
I think what characterizes most of these stories is the quiet (but sometimes loud) desperation of modern American daily life. He’s white, so it makes sense to me that his characters are, and that’s probably good so that he doesn’t try to capture something outside his perspective. But these are perfect distillations of moments. Rarely do they go beyond moments either.