From a contemporary master of the short story: a dazzling new collection—his first in fifteen years—that explores the unpredictable and mysterious in seemingly ordinary experience.
These interrelated stories are arranged in two sections, one devoted to virtues (“Bravery,” “Loyalty,” “Chastity,” “Charity,” and “Forbearance”) and the other to vices (“Lust,” “Sloth,” “Avarice,” “Gluttony,” and “Vanity”). They are cast with characters who appear and reappear throughout the collection, their actions equally divided between the praiseworthy and the loathsome. They take place in settings as various as Tuscany, San Francisco, Ethiopia, and New York, but their central stage is the North Loop of Minneapolis, alongside the Mississippi River, which flows through most of the tales. Each story has at its center a request or a demand, but each one plays out differently: in a hit-and-run, an assault or murder, a rescue, a startling love affair, or, of all things, a gesture of kindness and charity. Altogether incomparably crafted, consistently surprising, remarkably beautiful stories.
About Charles Baxter
Charles Baxter is the author of the novels The Feast of Love (nominated for the National Book Award), The Soul Thief, Saul and Patsy, Shadow Play, and First Light, and the collections Believers, A Relative Stranger, Through the Safety Net, and Harmony of the World. He lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota and in the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
Lorrie Moore, author of Bark
“Charles Baxter’s stories proceed with steady grace, nimble humor, quiet authority, and thrilling ingeniousness. In this his latest collection, all is on display—as are his honoring of the mysteries of love and his dramatic explorations of American manners, mores, family, solitude, and art. He is a great writer.”
Julie Orringer, author of How to Breathe Under Water
“Charles Baxter is nothing short of a national literary treasure. To read these stories—hilarious, tragic, surprising, and indelibly human—is to receive revelation at the hands of a master. Who but this writer has such intimate knowledge of our most shameful depths, and who else can illuminate them with such stunning aptness of word and thought? These ten linked stories, fraught with loneliness, ultimately reveal the unbreakable ties between us all.”
Jamie Quatro, author of I Want to Show You More
“With his latest collection, Charles Baxter has given us something altogether new in contemporary fiction: a series of moral tales that contain zero moralizing. At the center of each of these stories is a pivotal request—something I want you to do—and the ensuing narratives unfold with the nuanced complexity we’ve come to expect from Baxter, with a theological acumen few contemporary writers possess. Here is a cast of characters unparalleled since Sherwood Anderson’s Book of Grotesques, with a modern-day Minneapolis as tangible and strange as his Winesburg, Ohio. A stunning and unique work from one of the living masters of the story form.”