Review: Charles Baxter’s ‘There’s Something I Want You to Do’

January 30, 2015 5:55 PM

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Review: Charles Baxter’s ‘There’s Something I Want You to Do’

Charles Baxter’s latest collection of fiction is divided in two, with half the stories named for virtues and the other half for vices. But the titles aren’t simple, definitive descriptions of Baxter’s characters, whose actions range from selfless to selfish and back again. They’re too well-drawn to be motivated solely by avarice or lust or loyalty or courage; they’re complex, vulnerable to the whims of others, and sometimes their lives take ambiguous turns. By reflecting these many points of light, Baxter creates empathetic and nuanced portraits of human nature.

Author of five other collections and four novels, including the National Book Award nominee The Feast of Love, Baxter builds each of the linked stories in There’s Something I Want You to Do around a request, which makes sense: Aren’t we always doing something we don’t really want to do at the biddin...

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