A Relative Stranger

Overview

"In his quiet cosmic wonderment, Baxter is the equal of John Updike and Anne Tyler at their largest and best."—GQ
Without question Charles Baxter, whose ravishing novel The Feast of Love was a National Book Award finalist, is one of our finest contemporary writers. These two books, set in the Michigan landscape that Baxter has made his own, display his unparalleled gift for revealing the unexpected in everyday life. The often-curious connections of relatives and strangers are illuminated in the thirteen exquisite...

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Overview

"In his quiet cosmic wonderment, Baxter is the equal of John Updike and Anne Tyler at their largest and best."—GQ
Without question Charles Baxter, whose ravishing novel The Feast of Love was a National Book Award finalist, is one of our finest contemporary writers. These two books, set in the Michigan landscape that Baxter has made his own, display his unparalleled gift for revealing the unexpected in everyday life. The often-curious connections of relatives and strangers are illuminated in the thirteen exquisite stories of A Relative Stranger. "You can't just get a brother off the street," a character says, but indeed he does.

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Editorial Reviews

Lorrie Moore
Big, moving, rich with life and story. —New York Times Book Review
Michiko Kakutani
We have the satisfaction of having been immersed in a beautifully rendered and fully imagined world. —New York Times
GQ
In his quiet cosmic wonderment, Baxter is the equal of John Updike and Anne Tyler at their largest and best.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Most of the protagonists in these 13 wonderfully varied, often funny stories set by Baxter Harmony of the World in Michigan are complex men reaching for answers that elude them. On the other hand their women, anchored in a simple and peaceful pragmatism, more wisely accept their mates' odd hungers and lunatic streaks. Stephen in ``Lake Stephen'' feels dissatisfied with Jan, his lover--she always seems to know in advance what he will do and say. When he importunes her to throw caution to the wind for once, she complies, but less than innocently: ``Unless she broke the rules now,'' Jan realizes, ``he would not follow the rules later.'' In ``Westland'' Warren turns in a teenage runaway and, as a result, is drawn with his family into the lives of strangers, much as Cooper in ``Shelter'' terrifies his wife and child with his quixotic gesture of inviting derelicts into their home. In Baxter's best and final story, ``Saul and Patsy Are Pregnant,'' the characters from preceding stories come together, and their collective longing is resolved. Saul learns what the women have always known: happiness, if such a thing can exist, is love. Sept.
Library Journal
Everything old becomes new again in this collection of 13 short stories. Set in Michigan, Baxter's stories explore the various manifestations of love in human relationships: love that is lost, found, unrequited, and rediscovered; love in youth, middle, and old age. Whether we are reading about a social worker's chance encounter with a troubled teenager at the zoo, a happily married man's obsession with the secrets of the universe, a baker's attempt to assuage his guilt about the homeless, or a young Swede's disorienting introduction to Detroit, there is an element of familiarity in the tales. The author has written subtly but masterfully about the nuances of personal interaction in this insightful collection. Although his stories revolve around ordinary people and circumstances, the perspective is fresh and interesting. Through his character development, Baxter manages to give form to the doubts and fears we all share. --Kimberly G. Allen, National Assn. of Home Builders Lib., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393322200
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 797,908
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Baxter

Charles Baxter lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota.

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    1. Hometown:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 13, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Education:
      B. A., Macalester College, 1969; Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1974
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

Fenstad's Mother 3
Westland 19
Prowlers 43
A Relative Stranger 61
Shelter 79
Snow 99
Silent Movie 113
The Old Fascist in Retirement 119
Three Parabolic Tales
1 Lake Stephen 135
2 Scissors 145
3 Scheherazade 155
The Disappeared 161
Saul and Patsy Are Pregnant 191
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