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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062258125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062258120
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Novelist and nonfiction writer Barbash’s piercing first story collection explores characters reacting to the chaos and consequences of their everyday lives, from fractured relationships to the loss of a loved one and instant regret. In “Balloon Night,” Timkin prepares to host his annual party even though his wife abruptly left him two nights ago. As friends and strangers arrive, Timkin tries frenetically to preserve his marriage’s façade rather than confront its demise. In “Her Words,” a teacher finds himself in an unusual situation when one of his students begins dating his son, who still lives with him. As the young couple’s relationship becomes more serious, the lines between teacher and student and between father and son become blurred. “The Women” finds Andrew struggling to come to terms with his mother’s death as his widowed father becomes a desirable commodity for the over-50 set. In “The Break,” a recently separated mother uneasily becomes reconciled to her son’s independence while getting used to her own new circumstances. Barbash’s 13 sharply eloquent tales are intricately shaded by his characters’ desires. --Leah Strauss


“Barbash is a true craftsman who sweats over every sentence, and that artistry makes you want to read the next story… These characters…really aren’t like the rest of us, except–and this is the crucial part, this is why Barbash is worth reading–they hurt in precisely the same way we do…” (New York Times Book Review)

“These stories should come with a warning: They might undo you.” (The New York Times)

“Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the thread that binds stories in a collection together, but in the case of STAY UP WITH ME it’s enough to say that each story is very, very good…Barbash seems drawn to characters…who are reeling from freshly broken families or relationships” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Fantastic…These Cheever-esque stories all show that Barbash has a sensitive ear towards the subtle ways that relationships are formed and altered, but he’s also not afraid to open a story with a car accident and watch the sparks fly.” (The Daily Beast)

“Barbash gives us a wise, infatuating collection that navigates the thorny passages of preoccupation more honestly than any recent fiction. With alarm and empathy, and often an irrepressible urge to laugh, we watch his characters dig their own graves and realize ‘what it feels like to be lost.’” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“The new collection of short stories from Barbash…explores the difficult nature of human connection, whether it’s a young couple holding a party amidst the struggles of their foundering marriage…or a young man having a rough time in the dating world, whose widowed father is having no problems finding love again.” (7x7 Magazine)

“Barbash makes a strong impression with his first collection of stories… he deploys a keen, incisive wit; consider ‘The Women,’ in which the narrator watches his widowed father connect on the midlife dating scene, even as his own love life fizzles.” (San Jose Mercury News)

“STAY UP WITH ME is a cohesive compilation of 13 distinct stories, all of which evoke the intricacies of human nature… Altogether, Barbash’s stories present a poignant cast of characters that will resonate with readers.” (Brooklyn Daily Edge)

Stay Up With Me is a superb collection of stories-sophisticated, lyrical and moving, incisive in depicting the emotional connections between parents and children, husbands and wives, strangers and lovers. Tom Barbash is a blazingly good writer.” (Jess Walter, author of the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Ruins)

“Graceful. If Raymond Carver had lived in Manhattan he might have delivered stories like “The Break”…or “Balloon Night.” - Kirkus Reviews (Kirkus Reviews)

“Is there such a thing as the Great American Story Collection? Yes, and this is it.” (Justin Cronin, author of The Passage)

“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)

More About the Author

Tom Barbash is the author of the award-winning novel The Last Good Chance and the non-fiction book On Top of the World: Cantor Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick, and 9/11; A Story of Loss and Renewal, which was a New York Times bestseller. His stories and articles have been published in Tin House, McSweeney's, Virginia Quarterly Review, and other publications, and have been performed on National Public Radio's Selected Shorts series. He currently teaches in the MFA program at California College of the Arts. He grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and now lives in Marin County, California.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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My thought was that short stories would be perfect.
Jennifer L Crosby
I was very impressed with this excellent collection of short stories by Tom Barbash.
Bonnie Brody
The characters are complex and realistic, and all of the situations come alive.
Kacy Cunningham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By An Avid Reader on September 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I am not a big short story reader, but if someone hands me a book and says Read this, I do, dutifully. Usually, I skim at least a few pages so I can pretend I read the whole thing. So it was going to be the same with Stay Up With Me. But by the third page I knew I was in the hands of not only an elegant writer but a really good storyteller, so I stopped skimming, started again, and read it cover to cover (I actually read one story twice, a few days apart, which I never do). I'm not a good reviewer, so I'll give you one line that I loved, which I think sums up how good a writer the author is:" ... You could see my father surrounded by an infield of swooning women." An infield! I loved that. And also this, a really great review by the NY Times that I found later: [...]
Here's what I can say - it seems like a quiet book, but in fact there's a lot of action - people doing things to themselves and others - but it's real, every day action. Not car chases, or gun fights, but the clash of reality against a character's deeper needs. It's mothers and sons, husbands and wives, and - in one of my favorite stories - two young people who are not quite strangers to each other, an icy road, too many drinks. I highly recommend.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very impressed with this excellent collection of short stories by Tom Barbash. I had never heard of this author before but I read a review of this book somewhere (can't remember where) and I ordered it immediately. There isn't a bad story in the lot. All of them are great and thought-provoking. Mr. Barbash has a way of dealing with issues of intimacy and its dance of distance and pursuit that is evident in many of the stories. Most all the stories give the background of the characters' lives which I found very interesting. So not only do we have the present, but we get a look into the past.

I loved the first story, 'The Break'. Phillip is spending his Christmas vacation from college with his mother in New York city. He meets a waitress and begins seeing her despite his mother's disapproval. His mother starts acting intensely angry at the situation and things begin to escalate. What the mother really wants is someone better for her son, and to be closer with him herself.

In 'Balloon Night', Timikin's wife Amy leaves him two nights before their annual party. Timikin goes ahead with the party anyway, pretending that Amy is away on business. He keeps hoping, irrationally, that she will walk through the door.

'Howling at the Moon' is about Lou and his mother who are distanced by the tragic death of Lou's older brother in a car accident. Lou's mother blames him for the accident. She was driving and he let some balls roll to the front of the car on the driver's side. This is what caused the accident. His mother realizes, with time, that blaming Lou is wrong. "For a few months we both saw counselors but we did not talk about that day or my brother. It was as though we had lost our history, as if time started the day after the crash.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer L Crosby on September 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I downloaded this book on Kindle for a vacation that would not allow for much reading time. My thought was that short stories would be perfect. Tom's writing captured me, so I could not stop reading.

The stories are insightful. Family dynamics, emotion, passion - it is all in there. I loved how each story ended with my being able to see the rest of the story for myself. I reread "Howling at the Moon" and picked up a whole new meaning based on my mood at the time.

I was lucky enough to meet Tom and hear him read and discuss his own writing. That was a real treat, too. I purchased several hard copies of the book as gifts, and I can't wait to hear what the recipients have to say.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Authentic, heartrending, perceptive, tender, all of these words apply to Stay Up With Me: Stories by Tom Barbash. He's an amazing author, one who is able to capture a life in as little as 20 pages. He chooses details with restraint and strength, each revealing another facet of a character. All of the players in his stunning collection are known to us. Why? Because we share with them times of grief, disappointment and loss.

For instance in The Break a mother recently separated from her husband welcomes their son home from college for Christmas break. And best of all worlds "She liked the person he was becoming, liked the way he treated others." What she did not like, in fact, resented abhorred was his choice of lovers. She does not know how to handle the situation. Calls to her husband for advice are futile - he only reminds her that their son has his own life to live. Slowly, painfully we watch her try to control the young man's life, choose a proper partner for him.

With "Balloon Night" we meet Timkin who lives in a "three-bedroom eighth-floor apartment, on West Seventy-Seventh Street between Central Park West and Columbus." That's a choice location, is it not? The apartment is where Timkin grew up, it was given to him by his parents a few years back, and the block it is on is called the balloon block. An apt name because that is where the humongous characters in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are inflated the night before. Naturally, that's quite a sight to see so residents welcome one and all to their apartments to enjoy. Timkin had gone to his first balloon party when he was just six years old.

He is especially proud of the party he and his wife Amy host on Thanksgiving Eve; it is a night of celebration lasting well into the morning hours.
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