Read Something is Out There by Richard Bausch Online


From the prizewinning novelist and world-renowned short-story writer, the author of 2008’s universally acclaimed novel Peace (“A brilliant one-act drama depicting the futility and moral complexity of combat” —The New York Times), eleven indelible new tales that showcase the electrifying artistry of a master. A husband confronts the power of youth and the inexorable truthsFrom the prizewinning novelist and world-renowned short-story writer, the author of 2008’s universally acclaimed novel Peace (“A brilliant one-act drama depicting the futility and moral complexity of combat” —The New York Times), eleven indelible new tales that showcase the electrifying artistry of a master. A husband confronts the power of youth and the inexorable truths of old age. A son sits by his mother’s bedside determined to give her what she needs in her final days, even though doing so means breaking his own heart. A brief adulterous tryst illuminates the fragility of our most intimate relations. A young man returns in the face of crisis to the parents he once rejected. A divorced young woman dealing with slowly increasing despair develops an obsesion about a note that fell from the pocket of a man who came to eat in the café where she works. A wife whose husband has been shot must weather a terrible snowstorm with her two sons, as well as a storm of doubt about the extent of his involvement in a crime.Richard Bausch’s stories contend with transfixing themes: marital and familial estrangement, ways of trespass, the intractable mysteries and frights of daily life in these times, the uncertainty of knowledge and truth, the gulfs between friends and lovers, the frailty of even the most abiding love—while underlining throughout the persistence of love, the obdurate forces that connect us. His consummate skill, penetrating wit, and unfailing emotional generosity are on glorious display in this fine new collection....

Title : Something is Out There
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780307266279
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Something is Out There Reviews

  • Josh Ang
    2019-01-09 23:07

    In all of these stories, something unspoken haunts the characters - from within or without. Whether it's a fear of abandonment and loneliness, the acute sense of being left behind, by time, by fate or by the people who once held them dear, or even the fear of something as tangible as a mighty snow storm, Bausch addresses all these concerns with clarity and grace in his critical and incisive prose.A striking feature of Bausch's writing is the way he enters into the character's consciousness and brings to light certain inoculate everyday objects or bits of the character's surroundings that gain a certain prominence unrelated to his/her feelings or thoughts. I find this device rather successful because it reflects our true-to-life fixation on objects or scenes when the feelings at hand are too much for us to handle or deal with right away.None of these stories end in a way to suggest a resolution, recalling the works of other masters of the short form like Raymond Carver or Ann Beattie, for instance. The sense of unease that lingers is best exemplified by the ending of the titular story, as a mother braces herself and her family against a snowstorm and possibly the consequences of her husband's (suggested) criminal dealings: "She leaned into the icy glass, put her fingers on the cold handle of the revolver, and watched the distant commotion of the storm for any sign of light, hoping for it even as she understood that when she saw it, if she saw it, she would have to try to determine what it meant - safe arrival, help, someone seeking shelter, or intending harm."

  • Erin and Jim
    2019-01-02 21:54

    The title of this collection of stories caught my eye at the library one afternoon when I was searching for new books; it sounded eerie, intriguing, and promising. This is the first collection of short stories by Richard Bausch that I have read, and I was so impressed by the depth of his stories. For me, he is the male equivalent of Alice Munro, with his dark, and eerily ordinary stories that provide the reader with a strange yet gratifying twist at the end. All of the stories in this collection left me wanting more, as they are brief glimpses into the lives of ordinary people who might live down the street from us, or teach our children, or bag our groceries. "One Hour in the History of Love" is truly brilliant!

  • Laysee
    2019-01-11 21:51

    I was struck by one persistent observation about Richard Bausch’s collection of short stories, “Something Is Out There”. It seems to me that they revealed “something in here” that sat in the dark corners of the mind. Set mostly in Virginia and Memphis, Tennessee, the stories covered a range of issues: jaded lovers, ailing marriages and infidelity, weariness, anxiety, obsessions, and poor choices.Often the characters lived under a “cloud cover” that was in sharp contrast to bright sunny days. In “One Hour in the History of Love’, we read “A perfect day, and Martha’s all darkness inside”. On a sun-filled patio where she sat having a meal with her boyfriend (Gabe), her grade school friend and the latter’s newly wedded husband, Martha had begun contemplating breaking off with Gabe. A waitress in “Overcast”, divorced, had a premonitory jolt that her inner cloud might lift to reveal blue skies at the very moment the man in a straw hat walked into her diner from the sunlight.Bausch never told us what would unfold in the lives of his characters but simply registered moments in time when they became attuned to the “desperate seriousness of the private self”. Subtle shifts in thoughts and feelings were illuminated in a moment of self-realization. Often they suggested impending change in the tone of an existing relationship or a situation. However, the reader could never be sure that was for the better and was left wondering how things would pan out.I marveled at how well Bausch told a short story. He built suspense and anticipation without revealing the end. In the titular story “Something is Out There”, there was dread waiting in the wings on the night of a blizzard following a morning shooting and the failure of an expected guest to arrive for a Christmas gathering. “Son and Heir” concluded with the protagonist, a 27-year-old who was entangled in his room-mate’s doping mess and murder, crawling under his bed. There was no resolution. But enough was told to evoke a premonition of what might transpire.Bausch’s prose is direct and totally accessible. These eleven short stories may entertain you if reflecting on what is on the inside is your cup of tea.

  • Patrick Faller
    2019-01-12 21:47

    Several of these stories, especially the collection's title story, succeed as exercises in sustained narrative suspense. Bausch is an excellent craftsman, and at his best he manages, in the span of twenty pages, to engage his characters in situations that bring their most profound convictions and their greatest fears into stark relief. But the collection as a whole founders on the relative sameness of each story and displays the ill effects of an author whose careful craftsmanship might come at the expense of too narrow a worldview. After the fifth story, the resolutions hit so similar a note that, when taken together, bears with the force of conviction. I may be too demanding a reader, one who expects a bit more sweep from a collection eleven stories long. One wonders what Bausch might have accomplished by dressing up some of the more open-ended stories here. The novel form, in which Bausch has written before and done masterfully well (just check out the reviews of his previous effort, the sleek, powerful World War II novel PEACE), might have served. In a more varied context, such a resounding sameness might go unnoticed, but not when dealing with the same slice of middle-class Americans--carpenters, contractors, college professors--in a rich urban setting Bausch seems reluctant to mine for its full potential. Ultimately, I would return to the more successful stories to study their craft. Bausch does a fine job grounding his characters' actions in their psychologies and pays strict attention to the connection between the physical and the felt, the intricate interplay between sensory experience and thematic impact.

  • Marian
    2019-01-16 19:00

    I would give this collection 2.5 stars if I could; it's better than okay but I didn't quite like it. Past Bausch collections have been studded with startling little gems that miraculously showed us something new about the most banal of human circumstances. His characters were Southern and decidely nonprivileged, and came close to the universal in the ordinary and petty lineaments of their lives. They were often male, or children, or women weak in some way. Here Bausch stretches to explore a more diverse humanity, including those of a virtuoso female musician whose youth threatens her older husband, a gay academic losing both his lover and his mother, a minister's wife exploring her sexuality. The result is mixed, with a feeling of ventriloquism bumping up underneath at times, and in many stories the shape feels distended, almost belabored, in relation to their endings. Things go better when Bausch visits more familiar, usually male emotional territory--even the gay son's story is much more successful than many of the women's--but still the stories tend to crest on a weak note that leaves me thinking, That's it?

  • Richard J. Alley
    2019-01-06 23:56

    Richard Bausch is such a master of the short story, and makes it seem so effortless, that I read one page thinking, "I can do that" and the very next thinking, "There's no way anyone else could do that." Such interesting, sweet, sad and thought-provoking stories in this collection.

  • Kelly
    2018-12-22 21:44

    Couldn't even finish it-Blech and boring!

  • Terry Perrel
    2019-01-06 23:49

    Extraordinary stories of ordinary people by one of the country's best short story writers. "Blood" will break your heart.

  • Bonnie Brody
    2019-01-14 18:49

    Richard Bausch has written a stunning collection of eleven short stories, all strong and memorable. The stories tackle the themes of the frailty of love and relationships, fears, losses, betrayals. His characters often want to leave the present for something new and unknown. "I wish it was tomorrow" is a quote from one of the stories but is applicable to most of them. During the course of his stories, the characters become different people than they were initially. Often, they have reached a point of no return when the story begins or they find themselves at this point when the story ends. There are omens of things bad and frightening waiting in the ordinariness of daily life. There are also omens of momentous positive changes to come.'The Harp Department of Love' is about the marriage of two musicians. Josephine is a young wife thirty years her husband's junior. She has had a loose upbringing and has a gift with music. He has been brought up safely, and creating music is difficult for him. Perhaps through Josephine's lackadaisical attitude or her desire for admiration, she allows a friendship with a young man to go a bit too far. He becomes obsessed with her and confronts her husband, telling him that Josephine loves him. Her husband moves out and in his world of pain he realizes that he is becoming old and can't compete with youth. When her husband comes over to visit her, Josephine thinks, "He seems old. For the first time in her life with him, she sees his age as a separate thing, a fact about him, like something that might be explained to her".In 'Reverend Thornbill's Wife'. a reverend's wife has a one-time sexual liaison with a man she met on an internet site for "people mutually looking for extramarital excitement without commitment". For one day, ordinary life becomes filled with passion and mystery. "Except that there was also a kind of macabre sense that she had opened a little crevice in a fortification on the other side of which something awful awaited - there did seem to be an element of morbidness about all this." When her husband comes home, she looks at him differently and sees him as more limited and sexually repressed. This is her future.'Son and Heir' is about a boy who grows up in a home with a lot of hypocrisy. To the outside world, his parents appear happy. However, they are miserable with each other and often go for weeks without talking. They even have the boy pass notes between them. As the boy matures, he is a disappointment to his parents. He drifts through life "in defiance of their expectations - his parents' ambitions for him - and of the falsity he had grown up with". When he turns 27 years old, his father gives him $500 and stops supporting him. He is told to come home when he is a man, not still a boy. A traumatic event occurs and the young man, who has not had anything to do with his parents for a few years, returns home while they are out of town. He goes to his bedroom and hides underneath his bed, both a scared little boy and a man who realizes that he is lost.In 'Trophy', we meet Jimmy. Jimmy owns a car dealership and is facing a round of bad luck. This isn't much different from the rest of his life as he's experiened sorrows, losses and defeats. The people who work for him view him as a mentor. One of them stages a situation on a golf course that makes Jimmy think he's attained something he hasn't. This leads him to believe he's in for a round of good luck. He does find success but he still carries the weight of the world in his face.In 'Something is Out There', a woman begins an ordinary day "wholeheartedly believing in goodwill, contracts, commitments, friendship, helpfulness". During the day, her husband is shot by an irate ex-business partner. Later on, she and her sons are caught up in a snowstorm and all the power goes off in their house. She begins to think that her husband, who she is intending to leave, may be involved in some sort of crime. She senses something frightening and scary in the air. "She stood for a moment in the chilly doom of the basement and had the thought that this day's badness was the beginning of something more, and unfolding. She didn't even know what it would be about; she wasn't even sure it was coming. But her blood told her it was, and she had to be ready for it, whatever it might be."In 'Overcast', a young woman, recently divorced and rather aimless, sees her life as overcast. She attempts to keep up a positive attitude and a good front. In reality, she's stuck in her past as she ponders her future, floundering in the present. One day a man comes into the diner where she is a waitress. "She saw him, and abruptly had an unbidden strong sense that this morning would be important, that something momentous would take place". The man drops a leaflet with some enigmatic writing on it and she can't get it out of her mind. She finds herself wanting this man to reappear in her life again. He and the leaflet represent "where she might go, who she might come to be with, what she might find to an do or be, and whether or not she would be happy there, so far away, in the magical distance, the future, that was taking so long to arrive".My favorite story in the collection is 'One Hour in the History of Love'. At different tables in a restaurant sit separate couples, each dealing with the nuances of love and their own relationships - disappointments, joys, expectations, angers. Across the street, an elderly couple grapples with their disappointments about their grown children. Bausch segues beautifully between the different couples and conversations. He examines the universal elements of intimacy by having the strangers' conversations briefly intersect for the reader.In 'Sixty-five Million Years', Hennessey is a priest who is in the midst of a spiritual burn-out. He finds that "his hours in the booth were an almost unbearable ordeal now". He has trouble sleeping. One day, a 15 year-old boy with comes to confession. He is precocious and filled with doubt. He asks Father Hennessey about the 65 million years when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and why did God let that happen. All Father Hennessey can tell the boy is to have faith. The boy returns and Father Hennessey desperately tries to connect with him. There is something about this boy that affects him in a way that nothing has for a long time. However, Father Hennessey feels like he has failed the boy. All he can do is tell him to have faith. The boy returns and says "I'm worried about all the places in the universe where there's nothing going on, and nothing but silence". The boy talks about the faulty nature of God and of God being just like people. As much as Father Hennessey tries to communicate the importance of faith and combat the boy's doubts, he feels like he just can't reach this young man. Father Hennessey becomes obsessed with him, wanting to know who he is, where he lives, what his life's like. Where once he dreaded the boredom of confessional, he now yearns for it, hoping the boy will return. Father Hennessey feels like "something is intolerably wrong" with his life despite the orderliness of it. He wonders if this boy is an "angel who has been sent to goad him out of his apathy". Speaking to this boy gives him "a sense of having come face-to-face with a living sanctity".There is a brooding darkness in all the stories, a sense of something about to go wrong or something bad waiting just around the corner. People are betrayed, their impulses lead them to do things outside their range of self-perception, they become obsessed. Intimacy is fragile, easily broken and difficult to repair. No one ends up happy. There is no such outcome in a Richard Bausch short story. The reader ends up feeling enriched, privy to the private lives of complex and rich individuals, and to the dark side of the soul that is not easily described. Richard Bausch is a master craftsman and a wonderful story teller.

  • Susanne
    2019-01-15 21:04

    By MARIA RUSSOPublished in NYT: February 25, 2010An older man is on his fourth wife. She’s much younger; in fact, she happens to be his former student. And now he’s apparently walked out on her too. That’s the setup for the story “The Harp Department in Love.” But if it seems to promise a walk down some familiar literary lane — telling, say, a tersely lyrical tale of the wreckage caused by restless, self-defeating men, or depicting a grand tragedy of never-satisifed masculine desire — rest assured that because it’s a Richard Bausch story it will attend to the predicaments of the American male with insight and flair, even as the struggles of his female counterpart are treated with an equally interested eye. In this fine new collection, Bausch presents us with young people and old people; married, single and divorced people; straight and gay people; professional and blue-collar people; and people who are simply layabouts. They make bad choices, occasionally even deadly choices, because they can’t help themselves — and because the universe is full of peril and temptation. But some of them pause to realize that beauty and honor are also within reach. They all circle around a disturbing truth: that the power we have to shape our own lives can be as terrifying as it is liberating.For John and Josephine Stanislowski, the estranged spouses of “The Harp Department in Love,” what begins as an ominous stalemate over Josephine’s flirtation with a man close to her own age veers into something illuminating and unexpectedly tender. Stanislowski, an accomplished if stealthily underachieving classical musician who is an éminence grise at a Southern college, walks in on the aftermath of Josephine’s fumbled attempt to delay a friend’s husband from his own surprise party. The birthday boy has taken her ploy as a come-on — she’s separated, after all; what was he supposed to think when she invited him in? Josephine, a musical prodigy whose itinerant, fatherless childhood perhaps explains her hunger for male admiration, experiences a “fleeting sense of wonderment at the notion that there might be something she emanates that invites this sort of thing.” But she also sees that Stanislowski’s need to “doubt her feeling” is his own problem. In that tricky balance — Stanislowski is both right and deeply wrong about his wife — lies Bausch’s mastery of emotional nuance.His method is straightforward, a steady descriptive wringing out of meaning from moments that turn out to be life-altering — not that it’s easy to see what anything means while it’s happening. In the haunting title story, a woman named Paula, snowed into her house in rural Virginia, doesn’t know whether to be relieved or frightened after her husband is shot by a co-worker and manages to survive. It’s Christmas, and a relative who also worked with the husband is due to arrive. Is his delay caused by the snow or are his absence and the shooting part of a bigger, darker story? As Paula hunkers down, the night passes in excruciating slow motion. “There could never be anything so strange, so brutally exact, as experience,” she realizes as she registers the different person, wary and prepared for anything, she has suddenly become.These stories might seem old-fashioned in their form and rhythms, but Bausch works hard to situate them in the slangy chaos of contemporary culture — though not in its increasingly multicolored and multilingual reality. (This is a white, white world. Although there’s a story called “Immigration,” it’s about a tense visit to an I.N.S. office by an Irish guy and his Ameri­can wife.) Occasionally Bausch’s ear seems slightly off (“spandex slacks”?), but overall he convincingly captures a range of voices.The troubles Bausch’s characters navigate are as likely to involve modern ills like drugs as they are old standbys like drinking and adultery. The ravaging lure of the drug trade is palpable in the title story as well as in the disturbing “Son and Heir,” in which the shiftless 27-year-old son of a hypocritical college president rides out a sweltering summer blackout. It’s only when a minor drug deal takes a violent turn that he realizes how unprepared he is for life outside his parents’ detested nest.The book’s final story, “Sixty-Five Million Years,” tells of a priest, Father Hennessey, who has gone numb to the voices he hears in confession, the “catalog of little cruelties, omissions, vanities, impure thoughts, petty indulgences, hatreds and angers, curses and unchecked passions of his completely ordinary parishioners.” He begins to break through the “desolation” of his detachment only when he hears the tantalizingly incomplete story of the ordeal of another person — a scarily precocious teenage boy who comes to him in confession with searching, impatient questions about God and the dinosaurs.After the boy turns up again, Father Hennessey pieces together the elements of his family tragedy from news reports. Now the priest is filled with a new anguish — that he can’t reach this brilliant, unfairly afflicted young man. When relief finally comes to Father Hennessey, it emerges in the aftermath of a hard realization: “That he had gone through everything these past few weeks only in terms of himself.”With its movement away from ego and vanity, this brave, deceptively modest ­story tempts you to see a bit of the priest in Richard Bausch’s own vocation as a writer. Nineteen books into his career, he seems determined to keep witnessing an array of human sorrows with compassion and an admirable steadiness. Again and again, he excavates the darkest corners of his characters’ lives without giving in to despair.Maria Russo has been a writer and editor at The Los Angeles Times, The New York Observer and Salon.

  • Jean
    2019-01-14 23:50

    I couldn't skip any stories, read straight through. After the first one, I was hooked. Richard Bausch is a master storyteller. The first six stories pulled me in. All of these describe a delicate imbalance in a character's life, indicating an impending change of some kind--often mysterious, subtle, ominous. The title story could be adapted for a screenplay of a psychological thriller on the movie screen: A family is suddenly thrown into a situation of confusion and impending violence. Even a relentless winter snowstorm that brings darkness to the household underscores the quiet terror.The stories are so varied--like a "box of chocolates." One story describes a man whose beloved mother is dying just as his lover rejects him. Another describes a minister's circumspect wife (and mother of two) accepting a sexual tryst arranged through the Internet. One story takes place almost entirely on a golf course. Other stories present drastic situations that cause people to react in untypical ways that produce devastating results. The writing is always descriptive but subtle, understated.One of my favorite stories is the last one where a priest, suffering depression and going through the motions of his sacred work, is confounded by a teen boy who comes regularly to the confessional, upset that God created dinosaurs and wants to know if God makes mistakes. Also, did the New Testament writers know about the dinosaurs? He is obsessed; the priest's platitudes are of little service as he becomes frustrated and haunted by the boy.The author's skill brings a novel's worth into his short stories. There are real characters, back stories, scenes, situations, and themes. Each story ending leaves the reader with something to ponder.

  • E. Ce Miller
    2019-01-17 16:43

    This collection, by novelist and short-story writer Richard Bausch, tells a series of stories about strained, tense and complex relationships between men and women, parents and children, and myriad family members. Each of Bausch’s stories depict lives that are hardly what those living them ever expected—lives filled with little personal growth, no forward momentum, little progress, and few moments of transformation. Each story in this collection explores those seemingly split-second moments when you think your life is about to change, and then it doesn’t.The star of this collection was the title story “Something Is Out There”, a story that opens with a family returning from the hospital after husband and father Kent is shot over a bad business deal while working on the roof of the family home and, in addition to being shot, has fallen off the roof as well. It is only a few days before Christmas, in the midst of a dangerous snow storm, and the weather seems to worsen in direct proportion to the growing tension in the story. We quickly learn that before the accident Kent’s wife, Paula, has been thinking about leaving her marriage, but hasn’t told anyone yet and now this seems impossible. In the wake of the evening’s events the world for this family has taking on a sort of sinister aura—everyone is jumpy and paranoid, every occurrence takes on new and threatening meaning. “Blood” is equally compelling, when a man suddenly realizes he’s in love with his brother’s wife—who is very emotionally neglected by her husband, a man more consumed with restoring his late father’s boat than he is with his family’s destruction. This story ends in a way that is somehow both entirely predictably and wholly unexpected—a feat that is accomplished in just about every story in this collection.“Something is Out There” deals with familial struggles, betrayal, the fragility of romantic love and the truths we only keep to ourselves. It depicts how easily lives that have transpired one way could have easily happened differently.

  • MountainShelby
    2019-01-16 01:03

    I'm not a big short story fan, so that perspective always impacts my reading of a collection of short stories. I read a review of this collection, however, and wanted to explore this book further because alienation in literature is one of my interests. This collection didn't develop the characters to my expectations. They were rather sparsely painted, even a bit stereotypic (I've seen variations of almost all of these characters in other alienation-themed works). But perhaps that lack of development is the point—we don’t know these characters, nor are we supposed to know them. We as readers are as alienated from the characters as they are from each other. The stories are alienated from each other. We know Something Is Out There, but whatever it is, no one can reach it, including the reader. If this sweeping alienation thematic structure is the case (who knows the author’s intent, but it sure was my experience), this was a bit of a cop out--I really needed more than just characters going through the motions. At this stage of my life, I don't expect everything to be wrapped up in a bow, but I do need the author to do the hard thinking. If we're exploring alienation as a theme, then let's explore it, let's not just dump a bunch of characters on a Monopoly board, toss the dice, and see what happens. But that’s simply my preference. I want the author to share some insight, if there is truly insight to share. Raymond Carver nailed the alienation theme so very well, and in such concise prose. No need for long explanations, we knew what the characters were wrestling with. A clutched ashtray spoke pages, a dead woman tethered to the weeds, volumes. I did, however, enjoy the title story very much. The ending was ambiguous, but appropriately so. There was an eerie quality to this short story that appealed to me. The others were not so memorable, at least for me.

  • Russell Bittner
    2019-01-06 17:43

    I couldn’t help it. As I read the short stories in Richard Bausch’s collection Something is out there., I kept seeing the paintings of various artists—Edward Hopper; Edvard Munch; Francisco José de Goya; even, at times, Hieronymus Bosch. If I may be permitted to suggest a kind of “reverse ekphrasis” -- a term, so far as I know, normally reserved for poetry -- then this is what I felt while reading Baush’s work. The faces (and the characters these physiognomies represented) of despair, loneliness and isolation — and all of them struggling to break out of their personal solitary confinement. Or worse still, out of their private oubliettes.The following sentence at the conclusion of “Overcast” would seem to sum it all up: “She thought of those nights she lay wide awake in the dark trying to dream up her life out in the world, wondering and worrying about where she might go, who she might come to be with, what she might find to do or be, and whether or not she might be happy there, so far away, in the magical distance, the future that was taking so long to arrive.”These are not action stories. In many instances, the plot is no thicker than a pie crust. Instead, most of the “action” takes place inside the characters’ heads.But that’s fine. If the fictional landscapes these characters traverse are no wider than the space between their ears, they live, die and fight in that space — and both the horror and the sadness of their acts and thoughts are ours to consider. It is as if, in the depiction of his characters and their personal travails, Bausch is holding up a mirror and allowing us to look at ourselves.And no, they — and we — are not pretty to behold.RRB4/28/13Brooklyn, NY

  • Jennifer
    2019-01-11 20:05

    I will start by saying that generally I am not a fan of short stories from ones I have read in the past. However, I wanted to give them another try and the blurb on the book cover seemed interesting. Well six weeks later I was only half way through the book and finally just said forget it. In theory, the stories have good potential, but since they are short stories they never go anywhere. Just as I would get into them, they would end. And it's not like the endings were good so that you could feel like it had been resolved. The last story I read was the title story and it ended basically saying "she was ready for whatever might come of that night, without knowing whether it would be good, bad, etc." If she's just waiting to see what will become of the night, why not finish out the story for the night? The only story I enjoyed was the infidelity one and that's because that one seemed to have a good starting and ending point with a good amount of the story in between. All the others were just left hanging. From my point of view, what a waste of time to write a story if you're not even going to attempt to finish it.

  • Clark
    2019-01-15 17:04

    This set of stories made me think about how we define a collection of short stories. I've read a number of collections now, but this is the first that really felt like a set defined in both content and execution. The content is almost without fail about the disintegration of family/relationship units. To be honest, it's actually a fairly bleak collection in that regard. In execution, the collection is defined by the fact that the writing is uniformly very good, but fails to reach transcendence. I know that sounds like a cop out, but I guess it's hard to define what takes a story from being a very good, interesting narrative, to something that you want to tell everyone about because it wormed its way into your heart and found something compelling in you that you didn't know existed. "Byron the Lyron" and "Blood" come closest, but maybe these characters fundamentally didn't register with me. Maybe I should have gone through a terrible breakup just before reading this. Kind of glad I didn't.

  • Matt
    2019-01-05 19:50

    This is a most interesting collection of stories (with the exception of one that I did not like at all). For me, what makes the stories unique is the fact that all are left open-ended or, perhaps, unresolved. One typically thinks of the standard structure for a short story or novel: beginning, middle, and end, with the end, in most cases, containing the resolution of all that came before. This is not the case with these stories, and it is the source of their power. Because the stories do not "end" in any general sense, I find they have a tendency to remain close to the reader long after the book is closed and shelved. There is a tendency to find oneself suddenly aware of thinking about one of these stories. Writing like we see in these stories is something rather new to me, and I am always pleasantly surprised and pleased to encounter a fresh and interesting method of writing. Richard Bausch is a discovery for me. I will be on the lookout for more of his work.

  • Stacey Lozano
    2018-12-26 17:41

    This was my first introduction to both this author and a collection of short stories. I'm not sure how that will play out in regards to my review, but I'm sure it will have an affect.I thought he was very adept at putting you down in the middle of a situation, explaining the characters and necessary back story, and showing there was more going on that we could necessarily understand in the short amount of time he had to tell it. This grouping all dealt with family relationships, the struggles we carry to them, and how we deal within them. He wrote about rebellion, unexpected change, death, and overlapping stories. I honestly can't say which was my favorite because they all had something which appealed to me in one way or another.

  • Paul
    2018-12-24 22:57

    It took me a couple stories to get into this collection. 2/3 through I put it down for a few days and was never really able to get back into it. I guess it's okay, it just seemed a little overworked to me. Overwrought at times as well. This could be suffering from post-Harrison disorder, and I'd maybe appreciate it if I read it a different time, but I really didn't enjoy it. The several instances of present tense bothered me; they seemed unnecessary and unsuccessful. The endings never hit hard, the situations seemed a little trite. Cool dialogue and good writing, just didn't really work for me.

  • T P Kennedy
    2019-01-16 19:00

    It's a compelling and very well written collection of stories. The title is very apt as despair features in almost all the tales told. Some of these are page turners - I didn't particularly like the characters or the narrative but still wanted to find where it was all going. Like all collections some stories are more notable than others - for me the final brief story "Sixty five million years" was the pick of the bunch. It had a note of compassion, sympathy and understanding that most of the rest seemed to lack.

  • Jenny
    2019-01-09 22:51

    This is such a lovely book. I think I like the stories towards the latter half of the book more than the earlier ones. My favorite was probably "Immigration" or "Sixty-Five Million Years" or "Overcast." From a boy in "Sixty Five Million Years:" Father, the dinosaurs lived here for millions of years. We've only been here for a little fraction of a second in terms of evolution. What was God thinking? I don't get the millions of years. Millions of years. What was he thinking? Yes, Father, but more than 65 million years.

  • Jane
    2019-01-09 18:51

    I loved these stories. They are amazing...and when I looked back I couldn't remember one. It's not the author's fault, his stories are unbelievably well told and utterly surprising, I just need to stay with characters longer. It's why I only rarely read short stories, even though some of my favorite writers writer them. I'm going to read some of Bausch's novels though. He is a masterful writer.

  • Junita
    2019-01-09 20:49

    This book contains breathtaking, terrifying, beautiful stories. But the book's overarching worldview is very bleak. If you're a fan of gorgeous, depressing short stories (and I am), then you'll love this book. It's the first I've read by Richard Bausch and now I'm really excited to explore his backlist.

  • Alexis
    2018-12-24 21:05

    Richard Bausch really is a master storyteller. I'd never heard of him before I read about him in the Edmonton Journal, but I'm now really excited to read more of his stories. His dialogue is perfect and I intend to study his stories and learn to write more like him.A very inspiring book for me. He writes spare, sparse but nuanced stories, which are my favourite kind.

  • Pixismiler
    2018-12-29 21:57

    The description on the jacket caught me eye. However I failed to realized that this is a collection of short stories. I thought all the lives were intertwined, but they were not. I basically zoomed through just to say I finished it and moved on to something else.

  • Jo
    2019-01-17 01:08

    Gorgeously written-- so deft, so accomplished-- sketching the uncertainty and obsessions of the human heartscape.

  • Carl
    2018-12-21 22:47

    This was my first book by Bausch. I found most of the stories engaging, but the failed to satisfy often leaving me with the feeling that they were unresolved.

  • Patricia Geller
    2018-12-22 22:50

    Great short stories. He is a masterful writer. Gave it a 4 because I liked some better than others.

  • Michelle Despres
    2018-12-22 18:01

    Most stories were engaging. Some were gripping. Some were unsettling. Perhaps all were well-crafted. Not exactly my kind of stories, hence, four stars instead of five.

  • Joe
    2019-01-12 00:06

    See my review in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch