Cover image for Someone to watch over me
Someone to watch over me
Bausch, Richard, 1945-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperFlamingo, [1999]

Physical Description:
214 pages ; 25 cm
Not quite final -- Riches -- Self knowledge -- Glass Meadow -- Par -- Someone to watch over me -- Valor -- The voices from the other room -- Fatality -- Two altercations -- 1951 -- Nobody in Hollywood.
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Someone to Watch Over Me brings together twelve stories by one of America's most honored writers of the short story.

Richard Bausch is a master of the intimate moment, of the ways we seek to make lasting connections to one another and to the world. Few writers evoke the complexities of love as subtly as Richard Bausch, and a few capture the poignancy of the sudden insight or the rhythms of ordinary conversation with such delicacy and humor.

To read this book is to be reminded again of the power of short fiction to thrill and move us, to make us laugh, or cry. In these profound glimpses into the private fears, joys and sorrows of people we know, we find revealed a whole range of human experience, told with extraordinary force, clarity and compassion.

Author Notes

Richard Bausch was born in Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1945. After serving in the U.S. Air Force as a survival instructor, he entered George Mason University, from which he received a B.A. in 1974. He then earned an M.F.A. degree from the University of Iowa and worked as a singer and comedian while writing fiction. He became a professor of English at George Mason University in 1980.

His work includes the novels Real Presence, I Don't Care If I Never Get Back, The Last Good Time, Mr. Field's Daughter, and Violence. He has also published two collections of short stories, Spirits and Other Stories and The Fireman's Wife and Other Stories. He was shortlisted for the 2015 Bad S-x in Fiction Award. for his title Before, During, After.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In Bausch's new short story collection, marriage is an unfathomable mystery. Husbands and wives talk their way out of and into intimacy as conversations take on an ungovernable momentum and thoughts long suppressed find sudden and often catastrophic expression. Bausch is primarily concerned with communication between loved ones, when it works and especially when it fails. A father is uncomfortable around his twentysomething daughter's husband, a man substantially older than himself. A marriage is observed from the outside in the deft and breathtaking story "Glass Meadow," as a 12-year-old boy watches his good-looking but feral parents work their crazy little schemes. In the title story, a distinguished husband and his ingenue wife set out to celebrate their first anniversary, but once Marlee discovers that Ted's ex-wife recommended the vastly overpriced inn, there seems to be far more cause for worry than for rejoicing. Bausch has a keen ear for the back-and-forthness of the dialogues of love, and he brings as much compassion as talent to his shining stories. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Confused relations and the panic of loss suffuse the tales in Bausch's (Rare and Endangered Species) stunning fifth collection of short fiction. In a typical instance, a man is afraid that he and his ex-wife are about to lose their daughter to her violent new stepdad. All 12 stories here are full of domesticity, danger and people who sense disaster but, in a kind of dream-state impotence, can shout no warning. Fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, lovers and families watch their lives explode and unravel, and deceive themselves by believing they once had a grip on their realities. There's a witty Thurber touch as well, as in "Riches," in which a lottery winner is immobilized by his determination to stay "the same" amid hilariously crude family demands and sudden alienation from his once-familiar existence. In the title story, the much younger wife of a worldly man uses expensive brandy and obnoxious behavior to simultaneously confront and then evade the painful injustices of her year-old marriage. The heartbreaking and vivid "Valor" imagines a man's heroism after a school-bus accident, and his mistaken assumption that his marriage can be saved if his wife sees the proof of his bravery on TV. "Glass Meadow" follows a family of four to a forest cabin, ostensibly for a "vacation," but in actual fact in flight from an eviction notice. Bausch's chilling and believable dramas are haunting; the stories advance with the gravity of stop-motion photography. And the characters, driven to desperate acts, incapable of hearing one another, will linger long in readers' minds. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In every human relationship there are defining momentsÄmoments that clarify feelings and expectations and alter the fabric of our lives. It is just such moments that Bausch (In the Night Season, LJ 5/1/98) explores in the 12 stories (ten previously published) that make up this collection. It may be an anniversary dinner ruined because the restaurant was recommended by a former wife, or a ne'er-do-well but loving father handing his son a knife and suggesting that he and his brother rustle up some grub when the larder at their "vacation" cottage proves bare. The results may lead to a reignition of romance in the lives of a separated couple, a decision to shoot an abusive son-in-law, or a simple acceptance of the way things are. Bausch's approach is matter-of-fact, using the cadences of ordinary conversation and eschewing the edginess of so much current fiction. A rewarding read for those who appreciate good as opposed to flamboyant writing; suitable for any public or academic library.ÄDavid W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Someone to Watch Over Me Chapter One {{Late July, 1932}} Lily Brewster and her brother, Robert, sat in the dining room of the mansion known as Grace and Favor Cottage. Robert was at the head of the long table reading the New York Times and mumbling to himself as he sipped his morning coffee and grimaced. "Lily, is Mrs. Prinney watering this stuff down? It hasn't got any taste." "I think she is. She said something chirpy about chicory tasting just like coffee." Lily nearly had to shout to be heard at the other end. Lily was, as usual, doing the household books and had receipts, scrap paper, pencil, and pen spread around her while she munched on her toast with her left hand. Between them, halfway along, was their boarder, Phoebe Twinkle, the dainty young redheaded village milliner and seamstress. "Where is Mrs. Prinney?" she said, touching a napkin to her lips. "Gardening. As usual," Lily said. She closed her ledger and capped her late mother's fountain pen, tidied up her piles of paperwork, picked up her plate and silverware, and went to sit between the others so she didn't have to scream to be heard. "Should this be worrying us, Robert? Or is she just taking up a new hobby?" Robert, who was seldom without a grin and a smart crack, was uncharacteristically solemn. "Haven't you been to the greengrocer's lately? There's almost nothing there except what that local woman grows." "But not even Roxanne Anderson can possibly grow enough for the whole town," Phoebe put in. "The farmer can't buy enough seeds or hire help," Robert went on. "The middleman can't afford to ship produce around the country, and that hurts the railroads. Dominoes falling. Or a downward spiral, if you want to look at it that way." Lily had been working hard at trying (but failing) to ignore the country's deteriorating financial situation. She ran her hands through her hair and admitted, "I hate this. It just gets worse and worse. Thank goodness the Democrats have nominated Governor Roosevelt for President. At least he can't make more of a mess of the economy than Hoover." "Unless it completely collapses before he takes office -- if he wins," Robert added. "The election is months away, and the new President doesn't take office until next March. Anything could happen by then." "You think Hoover could be reelected?" Lily asked in alarm. Robert looked at his sister and realized he'd frightened her more than he should have. Not that he wasn't terrified. While President Hoover made weekly announcements of how the economy was improving, it was obvious that everyday life for almost everyone was getting much, much worse. "No, Governor Roosevelt will be elected. He's the only governor who's actually done demonstrably good things for his own state. He's beaten the state legislature into funding a few public works projects. Now I've got to change clothes for my own project." "And what's that?" Lily asked. "With Mr. Prinney's permission I hired a couple of young men from the village, the Harbinger boys, to help me tear down the old icehouse. There's some good sturdy wood in it that someone could put to use." "The icehouse? How will we cool things?" Lily asked. "Not the one behind the pantry," Robert said, rolling his eyes. "The one in the woods." Lily looked at him as if he were mad. "You don't believe me?" Robert said. "Come take a look." "No can do," Lily said. "Phoebe and I are on our way to a special meeting of the VLL." "The VLL?" "Robert, how could you forget?" Lily said. "The Voorburg Ladies League. It's the first meeting I've been invited to. It's quite an honor and might mean the village is accepting us as real people." Robert made an exaggerated motion of slapping his head. "Stupid of me," he said sarcastically. "How can you bear to be around that White woman who runs it?" Phoebe and Lily exchanged a look; Phoebe answered. "She's not really so bad when you get to know her." Robert waved this away. "I've met her. To my sorrow. She's a runaway locomotive." "But I hear she means well, Robert," Lily objected. "Her manner is bossy, but people say her ideas are usually good. She just got back from a visit to Philadelphia and told Phoebe she's had a brainstorm about how we can help others in Voorburg. An emergency meeting. Phoebe, are you ready to go?" The two young women gathered their handbags and the canvas bag with their good shoes and set out to take the shortcut through the woods and down the hill to town. Though there wasn't much traffic on the road, it wound around so much that it was at least four times the length of the old Indian path from the hills overlooking the river. They would change from their sturdy shoes to their nice ones once they were close to the village of Voorburgon-Hudson. Phoebe had alerted Lily that Mrs. White was obsessed with appearances, and while they wouldn't admit it to Robert, neither of them wanted to be accused of bad taste in footwear. Especially not by Mrs. White, who was always immaculately dressed, thoroughly corseted -- and well shod. Phoebe Twinkle, who had been in Voorburg longer than Lily and seldom had access to an automobile, was much more surefooted on the steep path than Lily, but she held back with good grace and set her pace to her companion's. "I don't really know very much about Mrs. White except that she scares me to death," Lily said to Phoebe. "Has she lived here long?" "All her life, as far as I know," Phoebe said, pulling aside a branch of a decrepit maple that really should be trimmed. "My former landlady talks about knowing her since..." Someone to Watch Over Me . Copyright © by Richard Bausch. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Not Quite Finalp. 1
Richesp. 21
Self Knowledgep. 41
Glass Meadowp. 47
Parp. 67
Someone to Watch Over Mep. 89
Valorp. 111
The Voices from the Other Roomp. 131
Fatalityp. 147
Two Altercationsp. 175
1951p. 193
Nobody in Hollywoodp. 199