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About Richard Bausch
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This "small masterpiece with the same emotional force and moral complexity as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Tolstoy’s Hadji Murad” (Colm Tóibín) inspired the forthcoming film, Recon.
Italy, near Cassino, in the terrible winter of 1944. An icy rain, continuing unabated for days. Guided by a seventy-year-old Italian man in rope-soled shoes, three American soldiers are sent on a reconnaissance mission up the side of a steep hill that they discover, before very long, to be a mountain.
As they climb, the old man's indeterminate loyalties only add to the terror and confusion that engulf them. Peace is a feat of storytelling from one of America's most acclaimed novelists: a powerful look at the corrosiveness of violence, the human cost of war, and the redemptive power of mercy.
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.
Will Butterfield can't believe it. His 75–year–old mother, Holly, is drunk and threatening to jump off the roof. Again.
Holly and Fiona, another elderly relative, won't stop tormenting Will and his wife Elizabeth with their bizarre (though often amusing) antics. Between Will's worries about his bookstore, The Heart's Ease, and Elizabeth's troublesome high school students, dealing with "the crazies" has become just too much.
But then something unexpected happens –– Henry Ward, a neighborhood handyman, meets the two old women, and he, his daughter Alison, and grandchildren are drawn into the Butterfields' lives in surprising ways. Both a comedy and a love story –– a first for Bausch –– Thanksgiving Night is about the real meaning of family, and one particular clan that has many reasons to be thankful.
Including these stories:
“The Man Who Knew Belle Starr”
“What Feels Like the World”
“The Eyes of Love”
“The Fireman’s Wife”
“Letter to the Lady of the House”
“Aren’t You Happy for Me?”
When Natasha, a talented young artist working as a congressional aide, meets Michael Faulk, an Episcopalian priest struggling with his faith, the stars seem to align. Although he is nearly two decades older, they discover in each other the happy yearning and exhilaration of lovers, and within months they are engaged. Shortly before their wedding, while Natasha is vacationing in Jamaica and Faulk is in New York attending the wedding of a family friend, the terrorist attacks of September 11 shatter the tranquillity of the nation’s summer. Alone in a state of abject terror, cut off from America and convinced that Faulk is dead, Natasha makes an error in judgment that leads to a private trauma of her own on the Caribbean shore. A few days later, she and Faulk are reunited, but the horror of that day and Natasha’s inability to speak of it inexorably divide their relationship into “before” and “after.” They move to Memphis and begin their new life together, but their marriage quickly descends into repression, anxiety, and suspicion.
In prose that is direct, exact, and lyrical, Richard Bausch plumbs the complexities of public and personal trauma, and the courage with which we learn to face them. Above all, Before, During, After is a love story, offering a penetrating and exquisite portrait of intimacy, of spiritual and physical longing, and of the secrets we convince ourselves to keep even as they threaten to destroy us. An unforgettable tour de force from one of America’s most distinguished storytellers.
Wives & Lovers is a collection of three short novels from the author whom the Boston Globe calls "one of the most expert and substantial of our writers."
Requisite Kindness -- published here for the first time -- tells the story of a man who must come to terms with a life of treating women badly when he goes to live with his sister and dying mother. Rare & Endangered Species demonstrates how a wife and mother's suicide reverberates in the small community where she lived, and affects the lives of people who don't even know her. Finally, Spirits is about the pain that men and women can -- and do -- inflict upon each other. These three very different works illuminate the unadorned core of love -- not the showy, more celebrated sort but what remains when lust, jealousy, and passion have been stripped away.
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.
At first, all Lily Austin knows about 19th–century explorer Mary Kingsley is that, 100 years before, she was the first white woman to venture into the heart of Africa. But as Lily begins reading about Mary Kingsley, she becomes more and more fascinated – and discovers in Mary a kindred spirit.
In her own life, Lily feels trapped – on the one hand, she craves family and intimate connection; on the other hand, she has no healthy or satisfying role models. Consequently, as she nears graduation from the University of Virginia, she finds herself uncertain about what to do with her life.
As she researches Mary's life – she has begun writing a play about her – Lily comes to witness Mary's incredible bravery and startling originality, qualities that prove inspirational to Lily, whose own bravery is required as she attempts to navigate dysfunctional and destructive relationships with her young husband, her extended family – and a legacy of abuse dating back to her childhood.
In “Back Stories,” the center of the book, Bausch effortlessly weaves poems around familiar characters from history, literature, movies, and popular culture—including Thomas Jefferson, Shakespeare’s Falstaff, Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Sam, the piano player from Casablanca. Decidedly accessible in form, theme, and expression, These Extremes will surprise and delight lovers of poetry and fans of Bausch’s stories and novels.
"The essential mystery at the heart of every relationship is the subject of these twelve stories. What drives people together? What drives them apart? Revenge, boredom, sex—they're all here. . . . The landscape of the heart depicted here is less bleak than it sounds; what drives these stories is the belief that love is reachable just around the bend." —Entertainment Weekly
Richard Bausch is a master of the intimate moment, of the ways we seek to make lasting connections to one another and to the world. Few writers evoke the complexities of love as subtly, and few capture the poignancy of the sudden insight or the rhythms of ordinary conversation with such delicacy and humor. To read these twelve stories—of love and loss, of families and strangers, of small moments and enormous epiphanies—is to be reminded again of the power of short fiction to thrill and move us, to make us laugh, or cry. In these profound glimpses into the private fears, joys, and sorrows of people we know, we find revealed a whole range of human experience, told with extraordinary force, clarity, and compassion.