58. The Fireman’s Wife and Other Stories by Richard Bausch (1990)
Length: 219 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 29 June 2013
Finished: 2 July 2013
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 27 June 2013
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and had read and enjoyed In the Night Season: A Novel by the same author in the past.
The epigraph for this collection of ten stories is a brief quotation from the poet John Keats: ‘Happy love, more happy, happy love!’ Richard Bausch does indeed write about the joys of marriage and family life, however he also reveals the pain lurking just beneath the surface of every seemingly happy life.
The first short story ‘Wedlock’, is about a newly married couple whose honeymoon night of amiable levity suddenly turns mean-spirited; in ‘Equity’, three adult daughters whose mother had previously supported them through divorces, nervous breakdowns, and other crises now must deal with their mother’s senility; the title tale and its sequel, ‘Consolation’ both examine the lives of firemen and their spouses before and after a tragedy; ‘Luck’ is narrated by the son of an alcoholic house painter. While many of the stories contained within this collection have contemporary urban settings, the short story ‘Old West’ is a retelling of the Shane story which basically strips away all of the legendary gunslinger’s heroism.
I must say, that while I certainly appreciated reading many of these stories, I was slightly irritated that none of them actually led anywhere for me. To be completely honest, several of these short stories just didn’t make all that much sense to me. However, I did find the last story, ‘Letter to the Lady of the House’ – in which a man on the eve of his 70th birthday, writes an apology letter to his wife after a disagreement they’ve had that evening – particularly heartwarming and sweet. Overall, I give this book a B+!
B+! – (89-94%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight