by Charles Baxter
This collection contains seven stories and a novella, and each has what I think of as Baxter’s trademark: real people living their real lives, imbued with quiet oddness or desperation or brokeness. His stories suck me in, and I often find myself waiting for something big to happen, only to realize that the bigness that happens in Baxter’s stories is in the characters, in the realness of their lives, and not in a sudden or shocking event.
If you are already a Baxter fan, you’ll no doubt enjoy this book. If you like understated fiction populated with normal-in-their-abnormalities characters (think Raymond Carver or Richard Russo) give Baxter a try. Recommended.
[Note: I picked up my copy of this book at used book store. It is signed “For Mary Jane, all best, Charles Baxter” and there is a note on the inside cover to “Mom” telling her Baxter is a great teacher and an author. Apparently the book was intended as a birthday present. I know (and sometimes imagine) that used books have had lives of their own before I pick them up, but I’ve rarely come across so much evidence of a book’s own story.]