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There's Something I Want You to Do

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,032 ratings  ·  139 reviews
From a contemporary master of the short story: a dazzling new collection-his first in fifteen years-that explores the unpredictable and mysterious in seemingly ordinary experience.

These interrelated stories are arranged in two sections, one devoted to virtues (Bravery, Loyalty, Chastity, Charity, and Forbearance) and the other to vices (Lust, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by Pantheon
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Luke Narlee
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Charles Baxter is an extraordinary writer. I can't emphasize that enough. He's one of the best. Especially when it comes to writing short stores. But he's not for everyone. There's no escapism to be found here. This isn't a book you read because you want to disappear into fantasy land for a while. He writes serious, moody, character studies. Many of his stories are the equivalent of an independent film. If you like short stories with no real beginning or end, and not much in the way of ...more
Edward  Goetz
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction, 2017
This is a really good group of interrelated short stories. Although well written, it lacked the punch I felt with each of Mary Miller's stories in Always Happy Hour and Big World. Don't get me wrong it's a great book, I just read two better ones from the same genre (short fiction) right before it.
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Charles Baxter has a knack for taking disparate characters and weaving them into an almost dreamlike tapestry. It’s why I was a huge fan of his novel, Feast of Love, for which he was a finalist for the National Book Award. In his new short story collection, there are threads of that process.

The stories are interrelated and organized into Virtues (Bravery, Loyalty, Chastity, Charity and Forbearance) and vices (Lust Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, Vanity). But, of course, it’s not as cut and dry as
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Baxter is a talented novelist and short story writer in the 9 loosely linked stories he chronicles the life and times of a diverse group of modern Minnesotans. Toward the end. Of the collection he quotes a Delmore Schwartz poem about Serraut's painting of the boating party. The interplay of the figures in the painting is akin to the relationships between the characters in these stories. Major characters play bit parts in other stories while minor figures emerge as fully formed figures in later ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Much less bleak than Believers, and possessing so much more hope, TSISYtD is a unique collection of stories that take place across what seems to be one consistent timeline. At times, Baxter seems to be a student of Carver. His stories begin at the point of a knife gouged deep already, and are slowly drawn out to reveal what is within, but lo! There is nothing left on the blade when it is removed. Characters search for meaning in the unique mundanity of their lives (an ex-wife returns home, a ...more
Roger Brunyate
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stories
Moral Encounters in Minneapolis

How could I never even have heard of Charles Baxter? The ten connected stories in this collection are wonderful: not spectacular or earth-shaking, but quietly satisfying. While built around a solid moral core, they are seldom predictable in the directions they take.

For example, consider the titles: Bravery, Loyalty, Chastity, Charity, Forbearance; Lust, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and Vanity. Five virtues and five vices; the moral implications are clear. But the
Jenny Dunning
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In my view, Baxter just keeps getting better and better. He's truly one of our contemporary masters in the short story. Wonderful, unexpected, satisfying stories fill this collection, several of them deservedly selected for Best American. And the collection as a whole satisfies too--not only are the stories linked (characters reappear; Minnesota,especially Minneapolis, comes alive; and forms repeat) but there's an arc to the collection as a whole. An abstraction titles each story--"Charity," ...more
4.9 stars
interconnected (like birds are to trees or homeless to aluminum?) stories set in twin cities, along the river mostly, but also in hospitals and poor neighborhoods and rich burbs and a coffee shop and walking along the paths and bridges and in cars and late night back yards and seedy motels (no one told) and some bars, but not many.
looks at morality, interpersonal relationships, duty, compassion . i mean, just look at the TOC

this is sorta if you could meld kis and dybeck A Tomb for Boris
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
This collection was such a wonderful surprise! First, I didn't even know Baxter had new work available until my friend Don sent me this hardcover as a gift! Then, when I made time to read it, I just savored every word! I had been disappointed with Baxter's last novel, and forgot what an outstanding short story writer he has always been. I consider him a favorite, and these loosely linked stories did not disappoint. They did many of the tricky things he does best - showed a great variety of ...more
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-reread
One of the beautiful sentences:
"Now, many years later, gazing at his son and seeing a remnant of Sarah's face in the boys characteristic skeptical expression, Benny imagines those days - including the trip to the mall and a little gag they played on a clerk - as a charade of sorts in which he was invited to try out different roles, shedding one after another as Sarah herself did, until he might find one that suited him, although what he didnt understand at the time (as he does now, of course)
Larry Olson
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to believe that Baxter has written three novels since Feast of Love, one of my favorite novels. I am behind on his work! His new collection of short stories are so expertly crafted and perfectly paced, that I am reminded of why I loved Feast of Love so much. Highly recommended.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter is a book of excellent short stories that capture the ironies and pathos and quirks of modern life in America. The geographical focus is Minneapolis (although for some reason severe winter seldom appears here). The lead characters are generally professional class with downward tendencies.

Baxter's gift with the short story form is his energy, the way he moves the action along while filling it with those odd things we all notice in life and
Sophfronia Scott
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Walt Whitman wrote, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” I consider this to be the identifying statement of a good fiction writer. Such a writer doesn’t just sketch figures on a piece of paper. He or she must fully embody these figures, filling them with voice, desire, pain, disappointment and the myriad of emotions, physical sensations and actions that make them unmistakably, irresistibly human. In this respect Charles Baxter delivers, admirably so, with this new story collection. His characters ...more
Jeff Zell
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction
A delightful collection of short stories. Baxter takes us into the private lives of several professional people and one mechanic. The characters know each other and make appearances in the other stores. Benjamin the Architect and Elijah the pediatrician are friends who often see each other in the coffee shop. Elijah is the Dr. to other people's children.

The chapter titles are virtues or vices: Bravery, Loyalty, Lust, Sloth, etc.

In the chapter Loyalty, Wes' first wife, Corinne, returns after 16
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it
There's something I want you to do fellow reader, and that is to open these pages and read the stories within as if the very fate of humankind depended upon it...

There's Something I Want You to Do is a wonderfully written collection of stories that encourages us to study human nature at its core in present day terms. At first, this thoughtful collection of tales seems like regular short stories, but, as is life for all us, the stories start to intermingle; familiar faces greeting us in future
Kathie Giorgio
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes a book has to be read closely and from a distance to truly appreciate the craft and thought that went into it . "There's Something I Want You To Do" is one of those books.

Each individual story is superb. The attention to detail and to language, the development of characters, the fullness of their storylines - amazing. Baxter is the king of being able to define who a character is in one succinct sentence. While at times, the plot might seem light, you realize as you read on that
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
A wonderful collection of ten interrelated stories, each involving one way or another, a character asking another the title question. They reappear in each other's stories, sometimes as main characters, sometimes as very minor ones, over a wide range of time and place, eventually forming a sort of loose community of people who have effects on each others' lives that they often don't even realize. Baxter's use of language is extremely precise, and he is a master at describing uncomfortable ...more
This was edging towards a 4.5 but there were a few stories that really lagged. Especially in part 2.I also was not a fan of Quinn's story, for some reason the dual POV sort of disrupted the story for me and it never regained its original ease.

However, overall, I was enchanted by the finesse Mr.Baxter has with writing. Every story had an interesting moral aspect and the characters were very multi-faceted. I think I liked the stories best when they didn't feel like they were trying to hard. This
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Tremendously entertaining stories, many with recurring characters - sometimes it reminded me of a literary "Slacker," one of Richard Linklater's early films that seemingly randomly takes up the stories of Austinites on a "wander" through Austin. Baxter does a similar thing with Minneapolis here, even with an Asian American guy from Minnesota that also reminded me of another movie, "Fargo," and its character of Mike Yanagita. Something you're not expecting to see. A series of profoundly ...more
Brian Carney
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a wise, warm and wonderful book. I am not usually a fan on short story collections, but these have a big collective impact. The stories are interwoven in subtle amazing ways as they gracefully leap between characters and through time and space (although most of them are centered around a bridge in Minneapolis). The writing is sharp and well-paced. The wonderfuly diverse characters are fascinating, well-rounded, full of surprises. Baxter's observations about the human condition are ...more
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There's Something I Want You to Do is one of the best short story collections I have ever read. The stories are interrelated (characters re-appearing and interacting with other characters in different stories), engaging and beautifully composed. Baxter isn't afraid to explore the spiritual/metaphysical aspect of life, either, making this a very thought-provoking read.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Superb as always. Baxter is one of my favorite authors - he continues to grow and change as a writer and his stories always surprise and challenge me as a reader. In my opinion, the best contemporary writer of short fiction out there.
Doctor Moss
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
This is one of those books I feel better for having read, but I can’t really say why. It contains ten stories, five grouped together under a theme of virtues — titled Bravery, Loyalty, Chastity, Charity, and Forbearance — and give grouped under a theme of vices — Lust, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony, and Vanity.

The stories do anything but illustrate straight-forward simple morals, organized around their title virtues. Life is messy, and so are virtues and vices. In fact, sometimes you can’t tell if
PJ Wollum
Dec 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
I barely made it past the first page. The author is unkind, completely self-absorbed, and thinks he's clever. At a party, he'd be one of those people who only talks about himself, the kind that you'd avoid after enduring him once.

On the first page, he introduces Susan. "...her favorite trick involved riding in cars with at least two other girls. You needed a female cluster in there, and you needed to have the plainest one driving."

What a cruel idea! Can you imagine any women ever saying,
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. It was just another book on my list of books to read. From the start, I didn't struggle through the book. It was an easy read and not too dense. However, as I moved on from story to story, I began to appreciate the complexities within it. Some of the descriptions are just so beautiful and strikingly accurate. Also, queer representation!! I was happily delighted to see several accurate representations of queer characters that broke ...more
Paige Riehl
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Charles Baxter's characters have such believably and depth that you might think you'll meet one at the local bar or pass another as he's working in his garage. These are rich characters with complex lives: their teens are surly, their ex-wives show up unannounced. They worry about death and where to get their next painkillers. They help each other in kind and in surprising ways. Minnesotans will recognize landmarks like the Stone Arch Bridge while characters from one story reappear in cameos or ...more
Mary Aalgaard
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As with all short story collections, I like some better than others, and it took a few stories to get into the book as a whole. The second half is more connected with characters and stories. All are set in Minneapolis, near downtown. I've been there, walked the stone arch bridge, visited coffee shops, seen shows. It felt like home. Some of the stories were so real, like Charles Baxter had actually experienced them. Excellent writing. It pulled me in. Two quotes that I noted: From the story ...more
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
There were a couple stories in this collection I enjoyed, but overall I think as a collection it was really grasping for some sort of ~form~ that was supposed to lead to a greater meaning that it didn't really achieve. All of the stories having the same type of title and being centered around some sort of characteristic made them seem simplistic and kitschy. Also there were more stories from the POV of one of the characters while all of the others only had one story which was weird. I wouldn't ...more
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a treat. My first Baxter and right off the bat, I knew I was in for something really special. Beautifully crafted stories, mostly set in Minneapolis and several reoccurring characters. Each story takes as its subject a virtue or a vice and in each story, the title of the book comes in to play.

That said, I definitely preferred the 'virtue' stories, the second half of the book had me scratching my head a few times. I definitely felt the hand of the author more heavily there.

Baxter is the
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a great collection of short stories! It came highly recommended to me by three avid readers/writers in my Advanced Fiction creative writing class. I felt like I was surrounded by friends reading this book, like even though I was reading these stories for the first time they already felt familiar in a good way. I agree with their sentiment that some of the stories felt at times a bit preachy, but since I went in knowing that it didn't really irritate me. Overall I would recommend it to ...more
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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 ...more
“I have to let her remain here if she wants to. She's wreckage. It's as simple as that. We have these obligations to our human ruins.” 3 likes
“So bleary with jet lag that she could not sleep or make any sense in conversation, and feeling that her brain was a haunted house in which bats flew randomly from one attic beam to another,” 0 likes
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