Gryphon: New and Selected Stories
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Gryphon: New and Selected Stories

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  471 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Ever since the publication of his first story collection in 1984, Charles Baxter has slowly gained a reputation as one of America’s finest short story writers. Gryphon brings together sixteen classics with seven new stories, giving us the most complete portrait of his achievement....more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2011)
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I believe that Charles Baxter is one of the best writers on earth. If I had to pick which one should sit at the head of the table during a gathering of my top ten, I'd probably just say "Screw it" and make him arm wrestle Haruki Murakami for honors. Let the loser carve the bird.

I also believe that Charles Baxter is the trickiest writer to write about. I decided this even before he wrote a state-of-the-reviewers address about "owl criticism," in which a book is critiqued like this:

"This book ha...more
Rebecca H.
A while ago I read and enjoyed a collection of essays on fiction by Charles Baxter, Burning Down the House, so when the publisher offered me a copy of his latest collection of short stories, Gryphon, I was happy to say yes. I don’t remember a whole lot about the essay collection, except that Baxter argued against the kind of short story that ends in an epiphany where the main character learns a lesson or changes dramatically. He wanted stories that were more true to life and to the way things ac...more
Jane Ciabattari
I read Gryphon back to back with Franzen's Freedom over a snowy weekend, and Gryphon won. Here's my NPR review:
This was a selection for my book club two months ago--but I couldn't get my hands on it before this month. I do remember that it was not the most popular book amongst book club members, so I had some prejudices going in. I really didn't care for the first 6 stories, but after that I found them a bit better. Perhaps I was just getting into the rhythm of reading short fiction, or maybe they improved, I'm not sure. I am not usually a fan of short fiction--these stories would, in my opinion, just ge...more
The main character of the last story in this new collection explains that he is elaborating "this story of suffering and terror" and that captures some of Baxter's project here--to understand the quiet suffering and terror of rather ordinary contemporary folks. This could be a recipe for disaster--why would anyone want to read 400 pages of suffering and terror--but overall it's not. Baxter has a keen eye and a restrained voice. He trusts his readers to make the metaphorical leaps that he sets up...more
Charles Baxter's Gryphon: New and Selected Stories is another collection of the wonderful writer's short stories. Baxter has such mastery over the form; his work brings to my mind Anton Chekhov, translated not only into English but into contemporary life. But like Chekhov, Baxter creates people, relationships, and a world that extends far beyond a few pages into our minds and hearts and lives. I may finish one of his story but the story often continues to resonate within me and unfold itself lon...more
Really really nice short stories, usa college professor style, not much cussing, but some good sex (some bad sex too, and some scary sex, and some violent sexual crimes too). Some of the things i like that author does: name checks REAL plants and trees like Catalpas and Walnuts, not just some generic "trees" ; describes cars, real cars with real brand names and their characteristics and rust patterns ; creeps, outsiders, pie-in-the-skyers, slackers, 10 year olds, sexy cult members and more are a...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I pledged back in June 2010 to read more by Baxter, so I was happy to see this come out and be treated well by critics. The only problem with publishing a volume of new and selected stories is the likelihood that a fan will have read some of it before. And at least five stories were familiar.

Of the new-to-me stories, I particularly enjoyed "The Cures for Love," that starts with a woman dealing with the end of a relationship but also includes these free-association translations of Ovid, and it so...more
Full Stop

Review by Nika Knight

When asked what no one ever asks him in an interview, Charles Baxter said, “the sense of being excluded from happiness… [is] really the only thing that nobody ever asks me about. It’s always seemed to me that a lot of my work has to do with somebody watching somebody else who is happy.”

In Baxter’s fiction, you could easily exchange “happiness” for “love” with no loss in meaning. This is the author of The Feast of Love –- a writer whose...more
Baxter's going to be my teacher starting in a month or two, and after I read "Feast of Love" I was a little worried -- I enjoyed it, but kind of from a distance, as it never really grabbed me. Turns out his stories is really where Baxter lives, and the ones collected here span his long and impressive career quite nicely. Baxter has a love of buttoned-down eccentrics, people trying and failing to fit in a world that doesn't quite understand them. Highly recommended.
"Baxter’s stories summon up a haunting beauty; his is a way of illustrating the mystical connections in life."

I review Charles Baxter’s short story collection, “Gryphon,” in The Kansas City Star.

Emily Eidbo haynes
Charles Baxter said, "there's a certain mildness of temperament of the people here that I share," in reference to his home in Minnesota. The more I read of Baxter, the more I appreciated his ability to bring to the surface the expressions and reality of people. How he, within the pages of seemingly nondescript story, such as Snow, could shout the insecurities of a 12-year-old boy, or in The Would-be Father, announce the delicate balance a father found in suddenly raising a child. Baxter's storie...more
Enjoyable stories, though he seemed to mine the same few themes over and over. My favorite story was "Gryphon."
Storyville App
"Poor Devil" appears in GRYPHON, Charles Baxter's new and selection collection of short stories, published in January 2011 (Pantheon Books, div. Random House). 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 five story collections. He lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota and in the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Jeremiah Chamberlain, in F...more
Julie M
Charles Baxter has keen insight to the human psyche. This collection of short stories--I'll admit I didn't read them all--were intriguing and mostly satisfying.

"The Disappeared" srikes a true yet nuanced chord about living in a foregin city and desiring to inhabit another culture, or play at being another person, if only for a short time. As Anders, a Swedish businessman, quickly learns, Detroit is no "typical" American city, nor is the particular American woman he sleeps with a "typical" Americ...more
Reading Gryphon, Charles Baxter’s latest collection of short stories, was an unexpectedly gratifying experience. As I closed the back cover after finishing the final story it occurred to me that I’ve actually read Baxter before. Baxter’s first novel First Light was assigned reading in my college American Postmodern Literature class, and for very good reason. First Light, the emotional story of siblings Hugh and Dorsey Welch, translates the human experience in a poignant and powerful way. Fortuna...more
Joshua Finnell
Library Journal Review:

This collected work reminds us that Baxter shines in the short story form. Whereas his novels (e.g., The Feast of Love) are cinematic in tone, his stories read like unfinished journal entries from a secret diary. By allowing the reader only a glimpse into the lives of each character, Baxter weaves together seemingly mundane activities into complex examples of love, fear, and anxiety. This collection is officially touted as a best of, with a few new additions, but, thematic...more
Apr 03, 2011 Noah marked it as books-i-couldn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-reviewed
I read about 5 of these stories and just wasn't compelled to finish the rest - I'd return to it again at some point; just at this point I can't get into it. Unless they're in a compilation or best-of collection of some sort, short stories to me often read not only as windows into the lives of the characters, and of myself and life itself, but also into the life of the author - a collection of short stories as a whole often, when pieced together, to me reads like an attempted sharing of how one (...more
Bookmarks Magazine
With one notable exception, the critics labeled Baxter a "writer's writer" (Los Angeles Times) whose finely honed powers of observation and expert manipulation of his reader are well suited to short fiction. He skillfully distills his stories down to small but revealing moments of self-awareness, plumbing universal themes of love, duty, and "the rewards of plain everyday life." The critics noted a peculiar apathy that afflicts many of his characters and an unsettling lack of resolution to his st...more
Although I've read (and loved) three of Baxter's novels, this was the first of his story collections I attempted to read. At first, I thought I might be too dumb to read them. I read the first one and was left scratching my head. I even returned the book to the library. The next time I went to the library, though, there the book was again, mocking me from the shelves. So I took it home, and read the second story. And from there, the third. And by then, I was completely hooked. Sure, I liked some...more
"Twelve years old, and I was so bored I was combing my hair just for the hell of it." This may be my most favorite first sentence ever read. It begins the story "Snow" in this collection of short stories by Charles Baxter, who is my favorite American author. His writing style is comparable to Raymond Carver's with the biggest difference being that Baxter actually seems to like people and write about them with a fondness completely missing from more recent male American authors (think Roth, Bello...more
Thing Two
Charles Baxter is a gifted writer. He won the 2011 Rea Award for Short Stories, so I figured this collection, published in 2011, would be an excellent place to get to know him. The jurors, when awarding the Rea Award, said Baxter was "a writer of elegant sentences, an expert in the mechanics of dramatic narration, and a master of psychological exile, which is the unexotic but special terrain of the short story." What they didn't tell me was how dull his stories would be. Yes, Baxter is a gifted...more
Jul 30, 2013 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the falling-apart or barely held-together
Recommended to Kate by: Harper's
Shelves: mn-writers
"This is the broom that sweeps the cobwebs away."

"The experience had filled her with bitter wisdom about the compromises of tedium and the hard bloody edge of necessity."

"No one on this bus on Saturday morning had a clue about how to conduct a life. She gazed at the tattered jackets and gummy spotted clothes of the other passengers. No one with a serious relationship with money rode a bus like this at such a time. It was the fuck-up express. Hollow and stoned and vacant-eyed people like herself...more
After choosing this book of short stories only because I liked the title, I've already requested the rest of Baxter's books from the library. Normally a quick reader, I found that I could only read a few stories a night because there was too much to sift through before putting any more soul-heavying words into my brain. I found "Shelter," "The Disappeared," &"Gryphon" to be the highlights, but all Baxter's stories bring you into contact with characters who you'll end up feeling that you know...more
Scott Schneider
I really enjoyed Charles Baxter's book The Feast of Love, in part because it took place in Ann Arbor. So I was excited to get his new collection of short stories Gryphon. Some are old and several are new ones. What I love about them is the writing. He is very descriptive and has great characters. The only drawback to this collection is that many of the stories leave you hanging. You wish you could see what happens next. But they were all really enjoyable and often funny. If you like good writing...more
If you enjoy character-driven short stories, I recommend picking this up. Baxter's stories are wonderful peeks inside the lives of all sorts of characters, ranging from a recovering alcoholic to a grandmother. I really enjoyed how he focused on the inner lives of the characters, but in a way that seemed natural and worked well for the stories. I also liked that the setting was a constant theme across many of the pieces - they are often set in Michigan, in and around Detroit (from what I can tell...more
you know, i can only remember the title story: and it was brilliant. so 4 stars for that. (i think i read it somewhere like the paris review or some anthology or something -- and then got this collection out of the library.) i can remember that substitute teacher so clearly, down to her lunches and her hairdo, how she made the protagonist feel -- and yet somehow everything else in the collection is eclipsed. all that's left is a vague memory of bleakness and unfinished-ness. one brilliant story...more
Apr 18, 2014 Robynn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Linda Recommended
Let me be blunt: Charles Baxter is not my favorite author. Sometimes his stories don't move as much as I would really like them to and often they are too long for my tastes. Let me be honest: Charles Baxter is a master writer, and if you aren't getting much from his stories, it is because you aren't putting much in. There is a lot to appreciate, a lot to enjoy and a lot to learn. This is a great collection that I didn't love, but I liked it a lot and I am still learning from it.
Maybe it was my mood, but I couldn't finish it now. I forced my way through more than half of these short stories. They were written well enough but there was a singleness to the stories that wasn’t appealing. I can read depressing stories but, honestly, these were such that I thought the author should be in therapy. I didn’t hear a universal theme or hope or anything more than an expression of depression. An author needs to give more than that.
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Charles Baxter was born in Minneapolis and graduated from Macalester College, in Saint Paul. After completing graduate work in English at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he taught for several years at Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1989, he moved to the Department of English at the University of Michigan--Ann Arbor and its MFA program. He now teaches at the University of Minnes...more
More about Charles Baxter...
The Feast of Love The Soul Thief Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction Saul and Patsy The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot

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“Savor the imminent weirdness of the day.” 12 likes
“You fall in love with someone not because he's nice to you or can read your mind but because, when he kisses you, your knees weaken, or because you can't stop looking at his skin or at the way his legs, inside his jeans, shape the fabric.” 5 likes
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