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.