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After Bathing at Baxters: Stories

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Eighteen tales featuring down-on-their-luck characters whose dreams will never come true, by Man Booker Prize–long-listed author D. J. Taylor

In the vein of Raymond Carver’s short prose, these eighteen stories sharply capture ordinary people desperate to escape their dead-end lives as they grapple with failure, disappointment, and missed chances. In “Dreams of Leaving,” Harlem pornographer Fuchs has seen it all; though he has never traveled farther west than Cincinnati, his bedroom is a shrine to all the places he secretly fantasizes about. “The Summer People” are the tourists who come to Cromer and invade Julian’s life every July and August, but this sweltering season of change will mark a turning point in the Norfolk teen’s life. In “Flights,” a mid-level insurance salesman named Dorfman haunts airports and collects model airplane kits—only to find his humdrum life changed forever by a beautiful Filipino flight attendant. “The Survivor” is about an unsung writer who lives through many millennia, from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age to the present—as well as an unimaginable world without books. And in the title story, twenty-four-year-old deli worker Susy fantasizes about an end-of-summer vacation away from Tara City, Wyoming—“a place you moved out of.”
Football, a Montana rock band, and a running man populate other tales in this superlative anthology that showcases Taylor’s mastery of his craft.

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