Carver is a punch in the gut, a blow to the head, a kick in the pants, never a bowl of giggles.
This is emphatically not a fun read. But these stories stay with you. If not the specifics, very definitely the general feel. I hope to hell that Carver doesn't have a lock on our zeitgeist because he finds things to say about us that are not flattering in the least. In his eyes we are a culture of depressed individuals having gotten ourselves in the worst of circumstances and without the means to disengage ourselves. We cannot all be like that! Some of us have to have the possibility for growth, for heaven's sake.
Weirder for me was that I recognized at least 3 of these stories from the movie "Short Cuts" (directed by Robert Altman). The impact of actually reading these particular stories was consequently far less than if I hadn't seen the movie. I mean, Lyle Lovett as the baker is a much more intriguing and horrifying character than Carver's baker. Altman's extension of the story left it Carver-esque but rounded it out enough that the printed story is pale by comparison.
And read the title story aloud to a friend. But make sure it's a very good friend.