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In these ten stories, Charles Baxter shows his genius in making his characters' everyday sufferings--and occasional fragile joys--seem utterly unprecedented, even as he reminds us, gently and with a sly comic twist, that everything they feel is only the collateral damage of being human. Whether he is writing about the players in a rickety bisexual love triangle or a woman visiting her husband in a nursing home, probing the psychic mainspring of a grimly obsessive weight lifter or sifting through the layers of resentment, need, and pity in a friendship that has gone on a few decades too long, Baxter enchants us with the elegant balance of his prose and the unexpectedness of his insights. Long admired and now once more available in paperback, Harmony of the World is a masterpiece of lucidity and compassion.