With this, his first collection, Carver breathed new life into the short story. In the pared-down style that has since become his hallmark, Carver showed how humour and tragedy dwell in the hearts of ordinary people, and won a readership that grew with every subsequent brilliant collection of stories, poems and essays that appeared in the last eleven years of his life.
Carver is the king of short fiction. His writing hits you in the pit of your stomach, and haunts you with its disenchantment. It's almost visceral.
Carver has made himself the natural successor to his true mentor, Chekhov
He is alert to the unique, inconspicuous incident, when a life or a marriage may change course decisively
Carver's stories celebrate some lasting aspects of the human condition, however minimal, conjuring up a quality of fellow feeling which gives the stories a compelling, dry-eyed poignancy, a melancholy but intensely moving authenticity
There is nobody else like him. In some ways his pared-down style is an extreme development of the Hemingway style, but Carver writes about women and the ways men relate to them far more convincingly than Hemingway ever did
Rubik's Cubes, Stephen King and Margaret Thatcher – the Eighties have plenty of cultural touchstones. But where to read about them? From Toni Morrison to Tom Wolfe, Alan Hollinghurst to Alice Walker, here are some of the writers who captured the decade best.