Bausch taps into menace of U.S. home life for new book

Mon Feb 8, 2010 2:15pm EST
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By Edward McAllister

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Following his award-winning war novel "Peace", author Richard Bausch is back writing short stories, fixing his gaze again on small-town American home life. Only now, there's more violence.

Bausch, who has written eight short story collections and 11 novels over a 30-year career, has long focused on the quiet troubles of domestic America, but he says his new book, set for release on February 10, takes his work to menacing new heights.

In "Something Is Out There", a collection of 11 short stories, one tale follows a naive kid running from a small-time drug deal gone wrong. In another, a young man's crush on his older brother's wife ends in a drunken and bloody fight.

"As I was writing these stories, I became interested in forms of menace, of crimes and things that happen around them," Bausch, 64, told Reuters. "I remember thinking that this is an area I haven't really explored that much."

Unlike many of his characters, Bausch is humorous, relaxed, and has maintained a relatively calm life, he said.

"I don't think any of (my fiction) comes from experience. Most of it is just dreaming it up," he said. "Imagine a book about how happy we were and how wonderful it is. You wouldn't want to read it. It would be the dullest thing on earth."

A steady focus on American home life and relationships over the years has earned Bausch several literary awards.

The "Stories of Richard Bausch" released in 2003 won the prestigious PEN/Malamud Award for short fiction, joining a list of literary powerhouses including John Updike and Saul Bellow.   Continued...

<p>Author Richard Bausch is shown in this undated publicity photo released to Reuters February 8, 2010. Bausch is back to writing short stories, fixing his gaze again on small-town American home life with his new collection "Something is Out There." REUTERS/Mark Weber/Handout</p>