Emily Mead
October 31, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

This hefty greatest-hits collection solidifies Bausch’s rep as a master of compact, closely observed vignettes of yearning and dislocation. Even windfalls — like sudden wealth or a new lover — can’t relieve the queasy sense of impending disaster that lurks in everyday exchanges between intimates. In ”Riches,” a young man’s lottery jackpot becomes a catalyst for personal and familial unraveling, while in ”Valor,” a drunk’s heroic rescue of children trapped in a burning school bus doesn’t prevent his wife from moving out later the same morning. Traditional in structure and subject matter, Bausch’s stories operate on a heartrendingly human scale. Spare, naturalistic dialogue imbues his characters with a quiet nobility as they struggle to extract themselves from ”the usual awkward position of not knowing what was expected, how [to] proceed.”

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