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If you’re up $16,000 at the casino and missing dinner with the woman you love, how do you find the strength to drive away? If you give up your career and your beautiful wife and find yourself drinking vodka and fixing cars for a living, is that necessarily a step down? In Hush Hush, Steven Barthelme gives us a simultaneously twisted, heartbreaking, and hilarious account of learning to quit when you’re ahead.
The collection, which includes the Pushcart Prize-winning “Claire,” exposes the surprising dignity in lying on your belly in the pouring rain, in ringing your ex-girlfriend’s doorbell at 4 A.M., in sleeping with your dead wife’s best friend. Co-author with his brother Frederick of the brilliant and devastating casino memoir, Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss, Steven Barthelme seems to cast an eye at his own history and the characters he’s known. These are men and women who are down --- but stirringly, not quite out. An arresting book from one of the most important short story writers of the last twenty years.
“With great humor and insight, he explores the psyche of desperate people striving to connect, with others and with themselves.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Barthelme has a sure voice and a respect for the narrative arc as it reveals itself. These stories are relatively short, but they always end at just the right place.” –Library Journal
“There is a pragmatic eloquence to Steven Barthelme’s writing, in the way his characters explain their decisions and their failures to live up to their potential.... it’s often beautiful and profound.”–Los Angeles Review of Books