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Through the Safety Net: Stories

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  351 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Baxter dives into the undercurrents of middle-class American life in these eleven arresting, often mesmerizing stories. Whether they know it or not, Baxter's characters are floating above an abyss of unruly desire, inexplicable dread, unforeseen tragedy, and sudden moments of grace.

A drunken graduate student hurtles cheerfully through a snowstorm to rescue a fiancee who no
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 29th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 682)
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May 29, 2011 Ellie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, short-story
Through the Safety Net: Stories by Charles Baxter is one of his most brilliant short story collections. People who have read my other reviews are probably tired of my raving about Baxter's craftsmanship, warmth, and focus so I will try to restrain myself as well as keep my comparisons to Chekhov to a minimum.

But if you read only one book by Baxter, I suggest this be the one.

And I don't mind if you hold me responsible if you can't stop after finishing it!
Aug 17, 2007 Nikki rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lit types
this is my favorite collections of short-stories. i don't know why i love it so much. his characters are well developed and you feel as though you have a novel-length relationship with them even if it is a short. he's kinda a cult classic too, with the Saul and Patsy stuff. and i like that about him. i like it that he draws in weird fanatics.
Aug 19, 2008 Empress rated it really liked it
For some reason I have the feeling that I should not like Charles Baxter, perhaps because I find his writing so likeable, and I have the ridiculous notion that I should have to work harder to like someone's writing, or perhaps it's because I have been influenced by other's reviews of his work, and I want to be irritated by it, but I am not, I actually really enjoy what of his I have read so far (except The Soul Thief.)
Yes, it's true that he often uses ridiculous and unbelievable names for his ch
Jul 23, 2015 Alison rated it really liked it
This is Baxter's second book, full of tender and elliptical and bizarre moments and some extremely funny ones. It's obviously an early work ("Stained Glass," which starts out very amusing, ends on a note that I think was overly cynical; "Media Event" is kind of Delillo-esque, which isn't where Baxter's strengths lie), but some of the stories suggest the talent that was fulfilled in his later collections and novels. "Gryphon" and "Talk Show," both about children, are both amusing and memorable, a ...more
Dec 28, 2011 Sanam rated it really liked it
For the most part, a great collection about for the most part, sad, married people. My favorites are "Surprised by Joy" and "The Eleventh Floor." There's something I really love about the last paragraph of "Surprised by Joy":

"She looked at him. In the midst of the sunlight he was hugging his darkness. She stepped down the zigzag path to the car leaving him there, but he followed her. Once they were both in the car, the dog inside the ranch house began its frantic barking, but it stopped after a
Sep 14, 2009 David rated it really liked it
Baxter's stories are absolutely jammed with imagination. They're just so bizarre that they're enthralling. I do love the way he handles child characters in "Talk Show" and "Gryphon." I love how "Talk Show" centers around Louie's toys as the death of his grandmother unfolds in the adults around him. It is a wonderful way to have a child report this. "Gryphon" is particularly interesting as well. I like how Baxter uses the "I later learned" to shift perspective briefly to be able to bring in eleme ...more
Terri Jacobson
Mar 17, 2014 Terri Jacobson rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I found this collection of short stories to be rather uneven. Some I liked greatly, others not so much. Baxter writes about middle-class characters who face some crisis in their lives. The writing is good and the character development is also pretty good. I do think this is a book worth reading.
Richard Jespers
Dec 09, 2014 Richard Jespers rated it really liked it
Great but often quiet stories. The last one is narrated by a man in a park who is watching everyone there. He says, “There is no story here,” but that’s the story: the bucolic but eventful afternoon in the park.
Mar 20, 2012 Steven rated it really liked it
As a big fan of the two novels I've read by Charles Baxter, I was excited to read his short stories, and they did not disappoint me. Though less plot driven than his longer fiction, these tidy ruminations on Midwestern life rang very true to this MIchigan man. His range of narrators is impressive, as he deftly shifts from a confused little boy dealing with his grandmother's seat to a fame-obsessed geek, just to name two. And the brief title story is brilliant, evoking the mood and paranoia of ou ...more
Elizabeth Urello
Oct 26, 2014 Elizabeth Urello rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Baxter is really hit-or-miss for me.
Sep 20, 2011 Dani rated it liked it
I liked the stories in the beginning and then for whatever reason they were not as interesting so I put this book aside. The were fine stories but they didn't make me thing and perhaps were a bit expected. Well I picked the book up again to finish and I enjoyed the last few stories more than I thought I would. I liked the last story which was a ode to Sunday. Overall it was a nice read but did not standout. Perhaps I need to reread the stories since so many loved this book ....
May 26, 2012 Brian rated it it was amazing
They're all unique short stories yet all have Baxter's distinct voice. The last one is my favorite. It's metafictional (ooh a multisyllabic word!) I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have Charles Baxter write about me. If he asked me for permission to be a character in a story, I'd give it to him. Even though he'd have to write about the ugly stuff, I'd trust him to get the good stuff too. He'd be accurate. I sound like I'm in love with him.
Nov 10, 2008 Josh rated it it was amazing
At the risk of gushing, Charles Baxter is one of the greatest short story writers in America. Everything about these slight-at-first-glance stories is close to perfect: language, pacing, even the order in which the stories appear.

I'm deeply grateful for Baxter, and will be buying this collection... they're utterly re-readable stories. I hope everyone who loves to read will read this collection.
Aug 29, 2007 Chelsey rated it liked it
Terse, minimalist, mid-80s short fiction about married people, mostly. Reminds me of Joy Williams' short stories from the same period. The style feels a little dated to me now, and I get impatient with it, but there are still plenty of nuggets to hold onto. And I love all the snow in it.
Amanda Avery
Feb 16, 2012 Amanda Avery rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
"Winter Journey" was a stand-out. Recounts a sad night of calm and detached inebriation and divinely assisted car ride to collect an estranged significant other. Hyper-realistic AND uncanny, with cut-a-way, on the verge of something, gong-like endings.
Mar 10, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
I'm always looking for new short stories to like, and I don't even know why I picked this up, but I loved it. Baxter is like the 80s version of Cheever. Great stories, excellent writing. Gave me a lot to think about while delighting me with imagery.
Nov 25, 2007 Scott rated it really liked it
"Stained Glass", "Saul and Patsy...", "The Eleventh Floor", "Gryphon", and the title story were all really strong pieces that held humor and discomfort side by side. Talk show is quite good for those interested in writing children in stories.
Feb 10, 2008 G rated it really liked it
Shelves: high-caliber
Having spent the majority of my life in Michigan, I couldn't help but love these stories, especially as they characterize the vanishing slow style of the Midwest.
Feb 20, 2008 Nathan rated it liked it
A good collection of short stories. A good breadth of authors in terms of style; some are far more engaging than others.
Jun 18, 2008 Molly rated it did not like it
Shelves: hated
Charles Baxter, I don't believe you or your characters. You grate on me. Oh how you grate.
Feb 21, 2010 Alex added it
Through the Safety Net : stories (Vintage Contemporaries) by Charles Baxter (1998)
Jan 02, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: vaguely depressed academics from or in Michigan
Shelves: short-stories
this man is always dead on. but depressing. but in a gentle way.
Christie Howland
Aug 16, 2012 Christie Howland rated it it was amazing
Baxter is a genius and these stories are proof of that.
Tim Lepczyk
Nov 06, 2007 Tim Lepczyk rated it really liked it
Just remember some really good stories in this collection.
Jan 08, 2011 Raul rated it liked it
Winter Journey is the best PhD story I've read.
Sandra Nicholls
Oct 10, 2011 Sandra Nicholls rated it it was amazing
An amazing book -- a must for short story lovers.
Feb 22, 2007 Aileen rated it really liked it
great modern day short story teller.
Nov 30, 2010 Ann rated it it was amazing
magical, authentic
Lisa marked it as to-read
May 23, 2016
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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
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