Living in the Weather of the World: Stories
Prolific writer Richard Bausch’s latest collection of short stories, Living in the Weather of the World, offers an array of deeply flawed characters trying to move through life on some of their worst days. In the opening story, “Walking Distance,” a police officer’s marriage breaks down over breakfast, and his day gets worse from there, while the sixth story in the collection, “The Knoll,” stars an unmoored young man seeking to make a name for himself in a disturbing way. These two characters are good indicators of the kinds of protagonists the collection offers: largely male, dissatisfied with their lives, and unrelenting in their lack of joy.
The longest story in the collection, “The Lineaments of Gratified Desire,” is the most compelling, perhaps because the narrative does not seem as compressed as the other works. Its protagonist, an artist named David, has no sense of who he is or what he wants, which leads him to a string of bad decisions. But the story’s ending, like several in the collection, feels rushed and incomplete, and the women are largely variations on narcissistic, neurotic harpies or clueless victims of broken men.
However, for those interested in reading about people whose lives are unraveling, or those who want some perspective that perhaps their own lives aren’t as bad as they seem, this collection has much to offer.