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There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2015
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Description

"There’s something I want you to do.” This request—sometimes simple, sometimes not—forms the basis for the ten interrelated short stories that comprise this latest penetrating and prophetic collection from the winner of the PEN/Malamud Award and “one of our most gifted writers” (Chicago Tribune).
As we follow a diverse group of Minnesota citizens, each grappling with their own heightened fears, responsibilities, and obsessions, Baxter unveils the remarkable in what might otherwise be the seemingly inconsequential moments of everyday life. 

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/03/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781101870020
ASIN:
B00HTMCAA0
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APA Citation (style guide)

Charles Baxter. (2015). There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Charles Baxter. 2015. There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Charles Baxter, There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Charles Baxter. There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:53:42
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Charles Baxter is the author of the novels The Feast of Love (nominated for the National Book Award), The Soul Thief, Saul and Patsy, Shadow Play, and First Light, and the story collections Gryphon, Believers, A Relative Stranger, Through the Safety Net, and Harmony of the World.  The stories “Bravery” and “Charity,” which appear in There’s Something I Want You to Do, were included in Best American Short Stories. He has won the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. Baxter lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
      • name: Charles Baxter
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2015-02-03T00:00:00-05:00
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title
There's Something I Want You to Do
fullDescription

"There’s something I want you to do.” This request—sometimes simple, sometimes not—forms the basis for the ten interrelated short stories that comprise this latest penetrating and prophetic collection from the winner of the PEN/Malamud Award and “one of our most gifted writers” (Chicago Tribune).
As we follow a diverse group of Minnesota citizens, each grappling with their own heightened fears, responsibilities, and obsessions, Baxter unveils the remarkable in what might otherwise be the seemingly inconsequential moments of everyday life. 

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Recommendations from Mrs. Dalloway, San Francisco Chronicle
      • content: Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch"Baxter's writerly pleasure in words is used in the service of illuminating characters and places, and giving moral weight to the stories."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from November 17, 2014
        Five stories named for virtues and five for vices make up this collection from a master craftsman. Set mostly in Minneapolis, Baxter’s (Gryphon) interlinked narratives feature ordinary people extending themselves beyond the ordinary for those they love, or used to love, or cannot love. In “Bravery,” a pediatrician and his new wife visit Prague, where a madwoman’s ranting appears to predict their future. In “Chastity,” a lonely architect stops a woman from jumping off a bridge; she turns out to be a stand-up comedian whose dark humor and elusive emotions enthrall him. “Loyalty” focuses on a mechanic as he takes his destitute first wife back into his home; years before, she’d abandoned her family, and now she blogs about the experience. “Sloth” shows the pediatrician from “Bravery” in middle age, talking suspense with the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock, who haunts Minneapolis. Baxter’s characters muddle through small but pivotal moments, not so much confrontations as crossroads between love and destruction, desire and death: a translator dreams of the poet whose work defies translation, a gay businessman searches the Minneapolis underworld for his lost lover, and a dying woman looks forward to the resurrection like others look forward to weekend football. The prose resonates with distinctive turns of phrase that capture human ambiguity and uncertainty: trouble waits patiently at home, irony is the new chastity, and a dying man lives in the house that pain designed for him.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from December 1, 2014
        The author's sixth collection of short fiction features stories linked by place, character, verbal echo, and a master's hand for foibles and fellowship. The place is mostly Minneapolis, the repeated phrase is that of the title, with its modest appeal and its larger reminder that no one gets through life without hearing a call or cry for help. A young pediatrician bravely breaks up a mugging. A man who has been mugged (and whose assailant in another story will need help with his drug addiction) stops a woman from leaping off a bridge. A man gives shelter to his ex-wife after she turns into a bag lady. (The book's last use of the title comes somewhat too pointedly from a Schindler Jew.) Several characters have encounters that suggest nonhuman help is available (a spiritual element also lies in the ten stories named after five virtues and five vices). The pediatrician's wife on their Prague honeymoon hears a crone's prophecy of her pregnancy. The doctor, the book's most frequently recurring figure, spends most of one story talking to the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock on a park bench and then asks his wife to pray for him. Bare storylines can't convey the quickly captivating simple narratives around them or the revealing moments to which Baxter (Gryphon, 2011, etc.) brings the reader, like the doctor's exhilaration with the physical violence of beating the muggers. Similarly, Baxter, a published poet, at times pushes his fluid, controlled prose to headier altitudes, as in "high wispy cirrus clouds threading the sky like promissory notes." Nearly as organic as a novel, this is more intriguing, more fun in disclosing its connective tissues through tales that stand well on their own.

        COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from December 15, 2014
        Baxter follows his new and selected short story collection, Gryphon (2011), with a book of subtly connected tales pegged to five virtues and five vices. These accomplished stories of precarious marriages and family strife are so laced with paradox and the unexpected and so psychologically intricate, one turns them over and over in one's mind, seeking patterns and gleaning insights. In Bravery, we meet Elijah, a pediatrician growing increasingly distraught over the suffering of his young patients. Elijah serves as the link between characters in the other tales, such as architect Benny, who, in Chastity, falls for Sarah, a suicidal stand-up comic. When she asks him to design a house in which a human being might be happy, he views this baffling request as an architectural koan. Baxter's stories are literary koans, riddling tales that embed moral and spiritual questions in the lives of people who are suddenly confronted by inexplicable troubles; they try to be heroes and sometimes succeed. Gradually, Baxter leads us into eerie and cosmic realms, as in Sloth, when Elijah is assailed by visitations and assures himself that he's just seeing things as the shamans once did. Rooted in Minneapolis, its industrial ruins so poetically rendered, these ravishing, funny, and compassionate stories redefine our perceptions of vice and virtue, delusion and reason, love and loss.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 15, 2014

        A National Book Award nominee for The Feast of Love, Baxter returns with his first story collection in 15 years. Piercingly elegant, the stories are divided into two sections, one embodying virtues (e.g., "Loyalty," whose protagonist sweetly takes in his ex-wife-turned-bag lady) and vice (e.g., "Lust," about a man struggling with the breakup of a relationship even as he tries to comfort a dying friend with lascivious talk).

        Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from November 1, 2014

        In one of his essays on craft, Baxter (Feast of Love) talks about the art of subtext. His new collection of short stories shows him to be a master of that art. His characters, mostly Midwesterners, are smart and well educated but not glib and have strong feelings they can't articulate fully. The book is divided into two sections, with the first part comprising stories titled after classical virtues, e.g., bravery, loyalty, and forbearance, and the second titled for five of the seven deadly sins (lust, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and vanity). This structure may seem overly programmatic and potentially predictable, but the stories themselves are anything but. A few repeating characters play leading roles in both parts. Moreover, the stories named after virtues don't necessarily end happily, nor are those named after vices free of heroic gestures. Among the memorable characters are Benny, who repeatedly falls for difficult women ("Chastity") and falls apart when they leave ("Lust"), and Elijah, a sweet-mannered, handsome young pediatrician who, a few decades later, displays a paunch and eats jumbo bags of potato chips while alone in his car ("Gluttony") even as he fiercely defends the honor of his seemingly taciturn son. VERDICT Baxter's delightful stories will make readers hungry for more. Fortunately, there are more out there, and, one hopes, more to come. [See Prepub Alert, 8/22/14.]--Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA

        Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 1, 2014

        In one of his essays on craft, Baxter (Feast of Love) talks about the art of subtext. His new collection of short stories shows him to be a master of that art. His characters, mostly Midwesterners, are smart and well educated but not glib and have strong feelings they can't articulate fully. The book is divided into two sections, with the first part comprising stories titled after classical virtues, e.g., bravery, loyalty, and forbearance, and the second titled for five of the seven deadly sins (lust, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and vanity). This structure may seem overly programmatic and potentially predictable, but the stories themselves are anything but. A few repeating characters play leading roles in both parts. Moreover, the stories named after virtues don't necessarily end happily, nor are those named after vices free of heroic gestures. Among the memorable characters are Benny, who repeatedly falls for difficult women ("Chastity") and falls apart when they leave ("Lust"), and Elijah, a sweet-mannered, handsome young pediatrician who, a few decades later, displays a paunch and eats jumbo bags of potato chips while alone in his car ("Gluttony") even as he fiercely defends the honor of his seemingly taciturn son. VERDICT Baxter's delightful stories will make readers hungry for more. Fortunately, there are more out there, and, one hopes, more to come. [See Prepub Alert, 8/22/14.]--Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA

        Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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As we follow a diverse group of Minnesota citizens, each grappling with their own heightened fears, responsibilities, and obsessions, Baxter unveils the remarkable in what might otherwise be the seemingly inconsequential moments of everyday life. 

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