Confused relations and the panic of loss suffuse the tales in Bausch's (Rare and Endangered Species) stunning fifth collection of short fiction. In a typical instance, a man is afraid that he and his ex-wife are about to lose their daughter to her violent new stepdad. All 12 stories here are full of domesticity, danger and people who sense disaster but, in a kind of dream-state impotence, can shout no warning. Fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, lovers and families watch their lives explode and unravel, and deceive themselves by believing they once had a grip on their realities. There's a witty Thurber touch as well, as in ""Riches,"" in which a lottery winner is immobilized by his determination to stay ""the same"" amid hilariously crude family demands and sudden alienation from his once-familiar existence. In the title story, the much younger wife of a worldly man uses expensive brandy and obnoxious behavior to simultaneously confront and then evade the painful injustices of her year-old marriage. The heartbreaking and vivid ""Valor"" imagines a man's heroism after a school-bus accident, and his mistaken assumption that his marriage can be saved if his wife sees the proof of his bravery on TV. ""Glass Meadow"" follows a family of four to a forest cabin, ostensibly for a ""vacation,"" but in actual fact in flight from an eviction notice. Bausch's chilling and believable dramas are haunting; the stories advance with the gravity of stop-motion photography. And the characters, driven to desperate acts, incapable of hearing one another, will linger long in readers' minds. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/31/1999 Release date: 06/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
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