“Fat,” Perhaps the Most Elusive of All Raymond Carver Stories

“Fat,” Perhaps the Most Elusive of All Raymond Carver Stories

By no means is Raymond Carver ever one to just tell you what he means. That’s what makes his writing so wonderful—the fact that he writes all around the point he is trying to make, forcing readers to partake by reading in-between the lines. However, when it comes to stumping the literary world, there is one short story that really does have most of its readers scratching their heads by the end of it. I’m talking about “Fat.”

Fat begins with a narrator who is retelling what happened to her at work earlier in time. She recounts a story of a large man, with “long, thick, creamy fingers” coming into the diner she works at and ordering multiple courses throughout the evening. Despite the narrator’s co-workers’ lack of empathy (they instead choose to make fun of the fat man behind the counter), the narrator becomes defensive of the man, and does her best to keep him satisfied. The most peculiar detail of the story? The large man refers to himself as “we.” Obviously, a brief summary isn’t going to unlock this short story — and if you think you can carve out the meaning of it, you’re bound to spend hours analyzing the details of the plot, the specific use of language, and the literary tools Carver puts to use during the tale.

“Fat” can be found in Carver’s short story collection, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? … if you’re feeling up to the challenge.

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