Nicholas Fonseca
July 16, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Wives & Lovers

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Richard Bausch
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

Not unlike lit-study staple Raymond Carver, Bausch gets his hands dirty when he’s writing. In three dramatic, highly volatile novellas — one published for the first time — Bausch plumbs the muck-filled depths of interpersonal relationships. His new story, ”Requisite Kindness,” is also the weakest, though it succeeds in discomforting as it enters the lonely world of Henry Hutton, a ”coddled and spoiled” middle-ager facing his mother’s impending death. The thrilling ”Spirits” finds a restless academic entangled in webs of marital deceit (his boss’ and his own) that nearly destroy his career, while ”Rare & Endangered Species” studies how one ordinary woman’s suicide can affect both her closest friends and never-seen neighbors across town. These fascinating stories, written by someone who clearly delights in human foibles, deliver unflinching gut punches while remaining undeniably moving.

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