Short stories are one of my favourite forms, and Carver is masterful. His sparse prose reminds me of Hemingway, and his characters - all struggling with their own small-town psychoses - hit you directly from the page. I'm not the biggest fan of American literature, to be honest, but embarked on my first experience of Carver after recommendations from a friend (who is a huge fan). Carver's stories wheedle their way into your consciousness. His portraits of everyday yet remarkable people are sharp and linger long after the few pages devoted to each tale. There's still something cerebral rather than emotional about the stories, but this alienation is part of the package. If you want to see beautiful craftsmanship and feel in the mood to take the wry, sometimes deeply sad, stories of failed promise or everday accident, then Carver is a rewarding experience.