A 2004 PEN/Malamud Award winner, this collection celebrates the work of American artist Richard Bausch a writer the New York Times calls "a master of the short story." By turns tender, raw, heartbreaking, and riotously funny, the many voices of this definitive forty-two-story collection (seven of which appear here for the first time) defy expectation, attest to Bausch's remarkable range and versatility, and affirm his place alongside such acclaimed story writers as John Cheever, Flannery O'Connor, Raymond Carver, and Grace Paley.
Failure and its exactions -- this is Bausch's big subject. These 42 stories test the play of hope and disappointment in the lives of spouses and lovers, of parents and children and siblings. And while Bausch does in several instances write with insight and authority from a woman's perspective, it is the sons, fathers and husbands in their daily trials that he registers most memorably. Indeed, so alive are these characters, with their credible flaws, their complaints and loud excitements, that closing the book feels like pushing the door shut on some clamorous party. There is much life being confided here, and much personal urgency, and Bausch has the timing and the moves to pull us in. Sven Birkerts