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The Stories of Richard Bausch    by Richard Bausch order for
Stories of Richard Bausch
by Richard Bausch
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

Richard Bausch is a well-known author, and is also the Heritage Chair of the Writing Program at George Mason University. The Stories of Richard Bausch is a collection of many of his shorter works. Most of them have been previously published in various magazines and anthologies, but some appear here for the first time. The stories take place at different times and in different places, sometimes with a woman protagonist and sometimes a man. Rich people, poor people, the middle class, young, old, all receive a treatment from Bausch. If there is a common running theme, it's the unhappiness many of these people find in the married state.

All the stories are about interesting people in intriguing situations. In one, an overweight young girl is determined to master leaping off a vault for her elementary graduation ceremony, when all the kids are supposed to do it. There's a woman who gains a sense of power when she realizes her husband is a coward. A young man just out of high school rushes to finish a contracted painting job he and his father started together, after his father takes off on another drinking binge. Another tale describes the helplessness a man feels when he realizes he no longer has any empathy for his wife.

As a rule, I don't enjoy short stories, preferring to read novels. I became quickly immersed in these, however, and found all of them to be very good, though slightly depressing. Perhaps that's why I don't usually read short stories, because most in the genre tend to end with unresolved issues and ill-contented people. But this collection of stories will please and entertain most everyone. Richard Bausch has a talent for expressing common emotions of people in everyday terms to which we can all can relate.

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