Something Out There
Knopf, Feb 9 2010, $25.95
These eleven superb short stories take seemingly inconsequential events that occur on a larger stage like snow storms and floods to argue what is sacred about a relationship. Using a sort of butterfly effect Richard Bausch leaves his audience pondering whether it is better to not love than lose freedom as relationships require ceding something and fail to last anyway as constant compromise or accession becomes the norm. All the entries are well written although some have appeared in other publications. Especially superb are "Reverend Thornhill's Wife" who has a great caring spouse but remains so unhappy she takes an Internet stranger to their bed; “Byron the Lyron” who only loves his dying octogenarian mother as does his former boyfriend; and "Blood" as a younger brother obsesses over his sister-in-law. Metaphoric symbolism abound as nature is meant to be loose and wild not fundamentally churched as in "Sixty-five Million Years" while power outages is the norm for those trying to maintain a relationship as told in "Son and Heir" and the title tale. readers will appreciate the profound look at the evanescent "One Hour in the History of Love" as Mr. Bausch makes a strong case that to err is human; to relate is divinely impossible.