If you like stories, Barbash has a new collection you won’t want to miss. When I started my reading life in earnest back in college, John Cheever was a revelation to me. Kindness, casual cruelty, humor, regret, deep love and betrayal—Cheever does it all in measured, even handed stories about family life and the struggle with our essential aloneness.
Barbash might well be placed in Cheever’s lineage, along with writers like Lorrie Moore and perhaps Raymond Carver—story writers who know how to surprise and bring clarity to private human moments, all within the constraints of the short form.
Advance reviews are very good. And the book arrives with an insightful blurb from Dave Eggers that I also include below.
The central theme of Barbash’s venture into short fiction is grief: whether because of divorce, disease, or death, his characters all struggle to recover from emotional trauma… [I]n the title story, the memory of his parents’ collapsed marriage pollutes a young man’s fraught relationship with a former lover. Barbash is most interesting… when exploring the psychosexual bonds between parents and children: in ‘The Women,’ for example, a young man whose mother has recently died struggles with his father’s sexual dalliances… Barbash is a strong storyteller who has mastered the architecture of the short story, right down to the tender, subdued prose that delights in sharp details….”
– Publishers Weekly
“Graceful. If Raymond Carver had lived in Manhattan he might have delivered stories like “The Break”…or “Balloon Night.” — Kirkus Reviews
“This appealing collection reveals a supple writer who draws us in from the start of each new story, with none of the ‘collection fatigue’ one sometimes feels along the way from even the best practitioners of the genre. Highly recommended.”
— Library Journal
“The comfort and pleasure possible when you’re reading the work of someone mining this rich classical short-story tradition, and doing so with confidence, is enormous. The cumulative effect is the feeling that you’ve read a novel of the interlinked lives of people you’d actually like to know—a rarity in short stories, right?—and it adds up to one of the most satisfying cover-to-cover short story collections I can remember.”
— Dave Eggers
Stay Up With Me (9780062258120) by Tom Barbash. $22.99 hardcover. 9/10/13 on sale.