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Hush Hush: Stories Paperback – October 23, 2012
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In his first collection since And He Tells the Little Horse the Whole Story (1987), Barthelme firmly establishes his reputation as a master of the short form. Teeming with hope and despair, the characters in these 20 tales are driven to recklessness or new beginnings. Brothers fall for the same girl. A lawyer abandons his life in Atlanta for Austin, pursuing a job fixing cars and a girl he met 10 years earlier. A compulsive gambler who borrows money from his ex-girlfriend is left irresolute when he finds himself up $16,000 at the casino. In the rousing title story, a cantankerous loner is begrudgingly reunited with his long-lost daughter, taking an unsettling interest in her only after she begins dating a coworker. But Barthelme is at his finest in his shorter, voice-driven experiments, such as a five-page demystification of Siberia by a precocious 10-year-old. Barthelme’s prose often evokes that of Padgett Powell in its syntactical precision, but his post-Southern style is distinctive and surprising, animated by stray cats and flawed humans seeking new lives. --Jonathan Fullmer
"Distinctive ... and refreshingly original." —The Washington Post
"With great humor and insight, he explores the psyche of desperate people striving to connect, with others and with themselves." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Barthelme has a sure voice and a respect for the narrative arc as it reveals itself. These stories are relatively short, but they always end at just the right place." —Library Journal
"Steven Barthelme’s new collection of short stories plays like the best of saddest love songs ... Hush Hush more than deserves its own place on the mantle of celebrated contemporary short fiction collections." —The Rumpus
"Poignant ... this is one of the few noteworthy short story collections that we've come across this year." —The Huffington Post
“Hush Hush speaks quietly and plainly … deceptively artful and refined.” —The Texas Observer
"There is a pragmatic eloquence to Steven Barthelme’s writing, in the way his characters explain their decisions and their failures to live up to their potential.... it's often beautiful and profound."
—Los Angeles Review
"Profound ... a refreshing contemporary story collection for readers." —Critical Mob