Hard to Be Good

Overview

The first short story collection from the acclaimed non-fiction writer contains eight stories, six of which were originally published in the New Yorker. From a mildly troubled adolescent who moves from innocence to experience over the course of a summer with his estranged mother (“Hard to Be Good”) to a former rock musician protecting himself against the bitterness of a failed romance (“Too Much Elecrticity”), Barich treats his characters with loving empathy and gentle humor. His eye for the specific and the ...

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Overview

The first short story collection from the acclaimed non-fiction writer contains eight stories, six of which were originally published in the New Yorker. From a mildly troubled adolescent who moves from innocence to experience over the course of a summer with his estranged mother (“Hard to Be Good”) to a former rock musician protecting himself against the bitterness of a failed romance (“Too Much Elecrticity”), Barich treats his characters with loving empathy and gentle humor. His eye for the specific and the delightful ease of his prose style allow him to find the extraordinary in the lives of ordinary Americans.

Bill Barich's first books established him as one of the finest, most appealing, writers of the literature of fact. Now, with this first collection of short fiction, readers have cause to celebrate a prose stylist who can gracefully cross the boundaries of genre.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Barrich's first collection of seven short stories, which takes a look at the lofty standards people set for themselves, is not just good, but very good. The title narrative introduces Shane, a teenager spending a vacation with his ex-hippie mother and her third husband. Trying hard to behave, Shane nevertheless seems propelled, almost by fate, to end up in the local jail. In ``The Guest,'' the behavior question is seen from another viewpoint. The owner of a small Italian guesthouse calls it ``a victory for the forces of order'' when he evicts an unruly guest. As time passes, however, he finds he misses the friendly chaos the man's annual visits brought. Barich (Traveling Light) has a rare ability to create quirky, likable characters with a few deft strokes. That, and the fact that his short stories are complete, compelling narratives in which problems proceed forward resolutions, make this collection especially appealing. (November 4)
Library Journal
Barich has here collected seven stories, all but one previously published. In toto, the stories have a monotonous similarity, with casual character encounters and almost-immediate emotional/sexual involvements left underdeveloped by indiscernible plots with incongruous linkage. Critical questions arise: Does the omission of relevant cohesiveness suffice for adequate story development? Does the random insertion of six or seven short sentences indicate a purposeful flaunting of stylistic dissonance? Is it truly a conclusion when the words just stop? Barich's nonfiction (including Traveling Light , LJ 12/1/83) has received plaudits, but here he sinks abysmally into a creative quaqmire. Glenn O. Carey, Eastern Kentucky Univ., Richmond
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374526276
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 12/28/1987
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Barich has written for many publications over four decades, including The New Yorker. He is the author of numerous books, including A Pint of Plain, about the decline of Irish culture as revealed by the demise of the classic Irish pub, and the horse racing classic Laughing in the Hills. He lives in Dublin, Ireland and California.

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