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Believers: A novella and stories

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  543 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
With his five previous books of fiction, Charles Baxter established himself as a contemporary literary master, in the traditions of Raymond Carver, William Maxwell, and Alice Munro. This radiant new collection confirms Baxter's ability to revel in the surfaces of seemingly ordinary lives while uncovering their bedrock of passion, madness, levity and grief.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 29th 1998 by Vintage (first published March 11th 1997)
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Rochelle Torke
Oct 02, 2007 Rochelle Torke rated it really liked it
To continue my Charles Baxter love fest . . . at least read "Kiss Away" from this short story collection. The smart, totally non-sappy short story/love story is such a rare thing. This one is hard to shake off and I find myself re-reading it every year or so and find another amusing gem and touching layer to all.
May 29, 2011 Ellie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, short-story
Believers: A Novella and Stories is another brilliant collection of stories from writer Charles Baxter. I had not read Baxter in some time so when I started this book, I was struck again with Baxter's freshness of tone and command of craft. However, I not only love Baxter for his skill and talent and inventiveness but for the warmth of his tone. Here is an author that makes me feel a part of the human race with all our weaknesses but without feeling ashamed of it. Elsewhere, I have compared Baxt ...more
Nov 12, 2014 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of stories, one of them novella-length, dates from early in the writing career of Charles Baxter, whose experimental storytelling style makes of him something of a writer’s writer. By experimental, I mean that he takes the conventional elements of short-form fiction and plays with them in unexpected ways.

In the title story, for instance, the narrator is the son of its central character, a Catholic priest who leaves the priesthood and marries after falling under the influence of
Feb 13, 2008 Miranda rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who like romance novels
Recommended to Miranda by: A professor of mine, and I don't know why...
I'm not a fan of Charles Baxter. Here's why.
Aug 09, 2010 Laila rated it did not like it
I am over you, Charles Baxter. You're weird and creepy and totally contrived.
B. Mason
Apr 15, 2015 B. Mason rated it liked it
The star rating system on this site does somewhat of a disservice to the work. My rating of Charles Baxter's collection is based on my preference more than my estimation of his writing. All the short stories and the novella, "Believers," are written with a deft command of narrative. However I am not entirely taken with Baxter's style. It's like a modernized classic short story, the close third person keeps the psychic distance a little too far and though he has great characters in these stories ...more
Stephen Phillips
Sep 13, 2011 Stephen Phillips rated it liked it
"What she loves is the extravagance of feeling that focuses itself into the tiniest actions of human attention, like the tying of this pink shoe...

So says the young mother Patsy in the story "Saul and Patsy are in Labor." I think this "tiny" description offers an appropriate insight into the writing style of Charles Baxter. Never before (save Chekov?) have I encountered a writer who expertly submerses himself in the small things - the little looks, expressions and emotions - that make up the ti
Dec 04, 2011 Kirstie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in the art of the short story, who wanted more from Raymond Carver
Recommended to Kirstie by: My Mom, Valeria
The stories in this collection are much more interesting to me than the novella, though there is a twist to the novella I had no idea about and I have to give props to Baxter for his ability to be unpredictable in this day and age. The short stories themselves take place in the American midwest but the novella ventures into Nazi Germany so, as you can imagine, it gets pretty ugly.

The stories are what left a resonance on me...the charmer who really deep down loves to beat his girlfriends and the
Jul 23, 2011 Joshua rated it really liked it
From an email to the friend who recommended this book to me: I think I was having difficulty with some of the short stories because I felt like I never got invested. "Kiss Away", "Saul and Patsy are in Labor" and "The Cures for Love" I liked, especially "Saul and Patsy." The others, well, reading them felt to me like glancing at someone just long enough to find them interesting, but then looking away before what they're doing or who they are is ever revealed. This might just be issues I have wit ...more
May 09, 2008 Steven rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
I didn’t like these stories as much as the stories in his Harmony of the World collection. My least favorite was the title novella, which just seemed to go on and on until, finally, it becomes clear that the first 100 pages are there only to set up the ending. He could have done that in much less space. I really liked “Flood Show,” although I thought the wife’s speech was a bit too on the nose, particularly given that that is her only appearance in the story. “Reincarnation” was interesting; it ...more
Mar 06, 2008 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: shortstories
My least favorite Baxter so far. But still beautifully written. Most stories seemed to be about a middle aged man in one way or another. Just didn't really connect with me.

(103)It is no easy thing to be a Jew in the Midwest, Saul thinks, where all the trees and shrubs are miserly and soul-shriveled, and where fate beats on your heart like a baseball bat, but he has mastered it. He is suited for brush and lowland under-growth and the antipicturesque. The fungal smell of wood rot in the culverts s
Amy Rhodes
Apr 15, 2015 Amy Rhodes rated it liked it
Having just finished Baxter's new book of stories, I was intrigued when I happened onto this earlier collection but they are not nearly as appealing. Not sure exactly why but few characters to care about and the novella did not hold my interest at all. (still a 3 because he writes so well.)
May 25, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it
Baxter sure can write a character. A woman. A story. Details.
I'm impressed-- but I haven't been able to finish many books recently-- literature.
Feb 13, 2013 Joseph rated it it was amazing
The stories can be found elsewhere, but the reason to read this book is for the novella that gives it its title. A meditation on family, faith, and the impossibility of knowing who anybody really is, the novella cuts directly to the heart of its characters and its reader.

Highly recommended.
Dec 16, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing
Read the novella and loved it. Steady, seemingly simple; then surprise after surprise, not only in the plot but in the structure and layering of the narrative, the past and the present, the "real" and the speculative. Clever, entertaining, and moving. Baxter at his best.
Apr 17, 2008 Stewart rated it really liked it
A good collection of short stories dealing with belief and disbelief. I was especially impressed with the title short story about a priest who meets a sinister married couple and goes with them to 1938 Germany, returning greatly changed.
Feb 03, 2008 G rated it really liked it
Shelves: high-caliber
The strength of Baxter's writing is that he seems a bit like Alice Munro or Marilynne Robinson, but he's not. His subjects are extensive and on the surface, mutually exclusive, but they all move in very ordinary, intriguing worlds.
Liz Musgrove
Mar 26, 2008 Liz Musgrove rated it really liked it
Excellent short story collection including "The Next Building I Plan to Bomb." Most stories explore the subjectivity of human experience. Especially liked the novella (title story) at the end. Defies expectation.
May 30, 2016 Barb rated it did not like it
Bleh. The first story wasn't compelling enough to take me away from binge watching The Wire. I don't care about the characters, and I don't even want to read the rest.
Mar 21, 2008 Allisun rated it really liked it
I don't read a lot of short stories, and for me to really like one is unusual. Baxter is one of my favorites, and this collection is haunting and lovely.
Nov 25, 2007 Melissa rated it really liked it
Mr. Baxter is a remarkable author. It is hard to believe he wrote all of the stories in this book because their voices and themes are so diverse.
Jul 16, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
I am really enthusiastic about the long story Believers which has snow and Nazis and a mystery at the center. Charles Baxter is a star.
Jun 15, 2012 Brenda rated it liked it
i read Kiss Away and Reincarnation - enjoyed. but then never got back to reading the rest of the stories( library book)
Dennis R. Thompson
May 11, 2010 Dennis R. Thompson rated it really liked it
If you enjoy the short story, you'll enjoy this guy. Just plain interesting with strong characterization.
Apr 29, 2013 Ariela rated it really liked it
Although this seems to be the minority opinion I adored the novella far above the collected stories.
Apr 24, 2010 Rimas rated it really liked it
Charles Baxter - what writing, especially the first story in the collection, "Kiss Away".
May 15, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the short stories more than the novella, but there is no doubt that I loved this.
Susan B
Jul 05, 2009 Susan B rated it it was amazing
Very smart novella and if you ever have a chance to hear him read, do it.
Jul 28, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Title story is mesmerizingly void of an "ending" in the satisfactory sense...
Feb 18, 2012 Valerie rated it really liked it author I hadn't heard of...and I will read more of his work...
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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...

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“My God, the corruptions of literature. It put all these notions into our heads.” 5 likes
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