Just about every movie, every song, every book, every play, and every other form of art deals with people with problems. Without a problem, what’s the plot? What’s the conflict? It’s a universal aspect of life. We’ve all got problems. So it’s a testament to these writers, and to the The Paris Review, that something we all face can be treated in such interesting ways. This collection of stories from the magazine includes literary luminaries such as Annie Proulx, Rick Bass, Wells Tower, Ben Okri, Denis Johnson, and Frederick Busch. The authors tell stories about “men plagued with guilt, women burdened by history, scientists bound by passion, mothers fogged with delusion, and lovers vexed with jealousy.”
Worth the price of the book alone is a Charles Baxter story entitled Westland. Originally published in 1986, this story describes the angst of two families in suburban Detroit. Most people drink a few beers, maybe cuss the mailman, maybe punch a wall when the pressure gets too much. In Westland, Warren fires a .22 at the concrete walls of a nuclear reactor and Earl demolishes a monolithic swing set in his backyard. Damn, I had forgotten how good Baxter can be.
So check out The Paris Review Book of People with Problems here and escape your own for a while.