Monday, February 17, 2014

The Fireman's Wife - Richard Bausch

My struggles with staying on top of posting here are primarily due to a block. I haven’t isolated it completely – just that it originates with my change in life.  We all work through our blocks.  We fall off our horses and climb back on.  In this case, I do not resent the origins of the change in my life one bit.  It’s just a stage, and as I progress forward, I will be able to pull good parts of my old life into the life I now live.
The Fireman’s Wife is the second story in BASS 1990.  The author is Richard Bausch who I’ve read before in BASS 1988 (Police Dreams)  back in the summer of 2012. We’ll have the treat of reading more Bausch in my next entry as he is featured twice in this anthology.

Of his decision to include Bausch twice in this volume editor Richard Ford states: “I’d have felt more balanced by seeming more balanced, but I simply couldn’t believe I was publishing the best stories I found if I ignored these”.

Bausch is also in BASS 1997 – I look forward to reading him several months from now (er…could be years at my rate of reading and writing).

Bausch was born in 1945 and presently he is a professor at Wilkinson College of the Arts & Humanities at Chapman University in Orange, California.  He spent some time in Virginia attending college and later teaching just up north at George Mason. 
Bausch has a great section on his website – where he lays out his Ten Commandments for writers.

They are great and worth re-posting here:

Ten Commandments of Richard Bausch
1. Read: “You must try to know everything that has ever been written that is worth remembering, and you must keep up with what your contemporaries are doing.”
2. Imitate: “While you are doing this reading, you spend time trying to sound like the various authors — just as a painter, learning to paint, sets up his easel in the museum and copies the work of the masters.”
3. “Be regular and ordinary in your habits, like a Petit Bourgeois, so you may be violent and original in your work.” — borrowed from Flaubert
4. Train yourself to be able to work anywhere.
5. Be Patient. “You will write many more failures than successes. Say to yourself, I accept failure as the condition of this life, this work. I freely accept it as my destiny. Then go on and do the work. You never ask yourself anything beyond Did I work today?”
6. Be Willing. “Accepting failure as a part of your destiny, learn to be willing to fail, to take the chances that often lead to failure in the hope that one of them might lead to something good.”
7. Eschew politics. “You are in the business of portraying the personal life, the personal cost of events, so even if history is part of your story, it should only serve as a backdrop.”
8. Do not think, dream.
9. Don’t compare yourself to anyone, and learn to keep from building expectations.
10. Be wary of all general advice.

In an interview with  Jack Smith published in “Writer” - Apr2007 Smith in his introduction writes:

The Virginia Quarterly Review said – “With any luck, Richard Bausch's genius will be recognized now as heir and equal to Carver's."

I feel bad that I didn’t look further into Bausch back in July of 2012.  I’m a huge fan of Carver and have been reading What We Talk About When We Talk About Love which is such a bad-ass collection of tightly written stories.

So if Bausch lines up with Carver – I’m stoked.
Later in the interview Smith goes on to write “Familiar Bausch themes include marital stresses and breakups, the problems of aging, and the complex relations between parents and children. Like his literary kinsmen Carver and Richard Ford, he tends to produce work that is often very dark, ironic and bizarre.” And then “Bausch masterfully zeroes in on the oddities and quirks in people, and the bizarre ways in which human beings clash as they try to conduct their lives the only way they know how.”

And the above pretty much sells it for me on Bausch.

I enjoyed this story.  I enjoyed the depth of characters and as a fan of Carver; I enjoyed the misery in which the characters lived.

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