Starred Review. Baxter's skill with short fiction is confirmed in this stellar collection of 23 stories, seven of which are new. The title story is deservedly a classic, and other favorites, such as "Fenstad's Mother," have gathered resonance as well, and the new stories show Baxter working a quirky beat. In each, the acutely observed real world is rocked by the exotic or surreal. In "Poor Devil," the "devils" are a self-destructive couple headed for a divorce, while, in "Ghosts," a stranger enters a young woman's house and tells her they are soul mates. She accuses him of being a devil, but his intentions are much less sinister than she imagines. "Nightfall had always brought his devils out," the narrator says in "The Old Murderer," a touching story about an alcoholic and an ex-con, each trying to get through the day. In "Royal Blue," arguably the best of the new stories, an undertow of mystery shadows a handsome young art dealer who understands that 9/11 has affected a fundamental change in his life. In Baxter's comic-melancholic world, people may be incapable of averting sadness or violence, but they survive. (Jan.) (c)
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With one notable exception, the critics labeled Baxter a “writer’s writer” (Los Angeles Times) whose finely honed powers of observation and expert manipulation of his reader are well suited to short fiction. He skillfully distills his stories down to small but revealing moments of self-awareness, plumbing universal themes of love, duty, and “the rewards of plain everyday life.” The critics noted a peculiar apathy that afflicts many of his characters and an unsettling lack of resolution to his story lines. Nevertheless, most judged the stories worthwhile for Baxter’s elegant prose and astute characterizations. By turns uplifting and bleak, comic and heartbreaking, this new collection by “a master of the form” (Minneapolis Star Tribune) should entertain readers who prefer technique to theatrics.See all Editorial Reviews
Convoluted yet engaging. I will read this book again to better connect the beautiful plots.Published 3 months ago by barbara khanna
These stories are brilliantly intellectual, but they don't have an ending. Every one left me hanging wondering what happened. Read morePublished 5 months ago by R. Solomon
I have only recently encountered Charles Baxter in The New York Review of Books, Gryphon then obtained from the library. Read morePublished 6 months ago by chezlouise
These are great stories and very enjoyable. Some are somewhat traditional, and a few break new ground and really tease the reader.Published 18 months ago by JC
This collection was superb. Charles Baxter was in Kansas City, Missouri and I saw him read at the Kansas City Public Library Writer's at Work series. Read morePublished 22 months ago by julie e.
Charles Baxter is known as one of the best contemporary short story writers and it was no surprise that his recent collection, "Gryphon," was named a NY Times Notable Book of 2011. Read morePublished on March 23, 2012 by Joseph Landes
A rule writers know: Never start something by having your character wake up in bed. The only thing worse would be to open with "It was a dark and stormy night. Read morePublished on June 28, 2011 by Rett01
There are 23 stories in a new collection by Charles Baxter, one of which shares the title, Gryphon. The sheer variety and diversity in these stories is commendable, and they share... Read morePublished on May 8, 2011 by Stephen T. Hopkins