Living in the Weather of the World

Knopf. Apr. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9780451494825. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780451494832. F
OrangeReviewStarThis superb collection of short fiction by Bausch (Peace; Something Is Out There) offers readers a disturbing portrait of contemporary America—tragically compromised, listless, and at war with itself. Most of the main characters in these stories drift helplessly into and out of disastrous personal and romantic relationships, and much of the action is driven by lies, boredom, and petty self-interest. Lethal violence blossoms early one morning on the streets outside a bar in "Veterans." A husband abandons his loving wife for a torrid affair with a young woman who is married to a wealthy 80-year-old man in "The Lineaments of Gratified Desire." In "We Belong Together," a philandering husband loses both his wife and his lover in a matter of minutes. There is psychological and physical violence in many of the stories, as well as profound loneliness and disillusionment.
VERDICT Plumbing a nation that has lost its sense of purpose and direction, these stories chart the emotional and psychological damage that is produced by experiences under these conditions. Enthusiastically recommended for fans of literary fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 10/10/16.]
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