Though he is unsentimental, Carver is a hugely compassionate writer. This story is a perfect example of how short fiction is like a pebble thrown in a pond. It ripples out over a great expanse. On the one hand ‘Fat’ is about a waitress who serves an obese customer. Other staff mock him but she looks after him with exemplary care. When she talks about her shift, the waitress realises that she has been unsettled by this encounter. But on the other hand, ‘Fat’ it’s about magnanimity, the place we occupy in the world.
First published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1971. Collected in Will You Please Be Quiet, Please, McGraw-Hill, 1976 and Where I’m Calling From, Atlantic, 1988. Available online here