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Works by
Douglas Bauer
(Journalist, Writer)
[1945 - ]

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Profile created February 1, 2008

Note:  Douglas Bauer was married to the author Sue Miller.

Fiction
  • The Book of Famous Iowans (1997)
    When will Vaughn's mother LeAnne falls in love with Bobby Markum, the star pitcher of the town ball club, she scandalizes not only her husband, son, and eccentric mother-in-law, but also all the God-fearing inhabitants of New Holland, Iowa. Looking back with an adult's more worldly perspective, but still wounded by her abrupt departure, Will recounts the story of his parents' courtship and marriage during the Second World War, his life on the family farm, the erosion of his parents' affection, and their memorable final break. Douglas Bauer's The Book of Famous Iowans is about the undoing of a marriage and, thus, a family as well as a childhood. And looming above them all is the extraordinary figure of Will's grandmother, who from her upstairs apartment presides over the fulminations beneath her, constructing her "Book of Famous Iowans" in an unceasing attempt to fathom the Janus-like faces of fame and infamy. This is a brilliant and memorable novel.

  • The Very Air (1993)
    Luther Mathias sells "snake oil" in scrubby West Texas dirt towns. He learns that substance is never a substitute for style and eventually develops his own remedies that promise to cure any ailment a man might suffer. In time his imagination and ambition combine to mold him into medicine's version of Elmer Gantry--loved and hated, imponderably wealthy and famous, powerful, and pursued.

  • Dexterity (1989)
    Douglas Bauer's profound and exquisitely written first novel quickly established him as one of America's best new writers when it was first published in 1989. Now back in print, this darkly poetic novel is imbued with the same tough and tender understanding of the emotional lives of real people that distinguish Bauer's subsequent novels, The Very Air and The Book of Famous Iowans.

Non-fiction
  • Death by Pad Thai: And Other Unforgettable Meals (2006)
    Food isn’t just a gustatory pleasure; it is the stuff of life. At its best and most memorable, a meal becomes a story—and a story becomes a feast. In this collection of essays by some of the country’s finest writers, food is the central player in memories both exquisite and excruciating. Steve Almond recounts the gleeful daylong preparation of a transcendent lobster pad thai dish. Sue Miller reveals that after a lifetime of practical cooking, she is finally fed by a man who presents food as an offering, made just for her. Aimee Bender ponders her lifelong envy of what everyone else is having for lunch. Richard Russo relates the celebratory day he and his wife spent eating their way through haute Manhattan—and departing utterly famished.

    Expertly compiled and edited by Douglas Bauer—including pieces by Amy Bloom, Peter Mayle, Jane and Michael Stern, Ann Packer, and Andre Dubus III—this unforgettable collection presents food as education, test, reward, bait, magnet, and, most of all, gift. Gathered here are meals that sate our most complex palate, the appreciation of life.

  • The Stuff of Fiction: Advice on Craft (2000, 2005)
    In this book, prizewinning novelist and popular creative writing instructor Douglas Bauer (The Book of Famous Iowans) shares the secrets of his trade. Talent, as Bauer acknowledges, is the most crucial element for a writer and cannot be taught. But without a regular habit of work, and a perseverance of effort, no amount of talent can come forward and be recognized. His lively and candid essays on subjects critical to the fiction writer’s success demystify the essential elements of fiction writing, how they work, and work together.
     
    Bauer’s focus is on the building blocks of successful fiction: dialogue (the intimate relationship between characters talking and the eavesdropping reader), characters (the virtues of creating fictional characters that are both splendidly flawed and sympathetic), and dramatic events (ways to create moments that produce an emotional and psychological impact).  There are also chapters on crafting effective openings and memorable closings of stories and on the vital presence of sentiment in fiction versus the ruinous effect of sentimentality. By assuming the point of view of someone at the task, engaged with the work, inside the effort to bring an invented world to life, The Stuff of Fiction speaks to writers of all ages in a pleasurable yet practical voice.

  • Prairie City, Iowa: Three Seasons at Home (1979)
    This is the story of a small-town midwestern life as seen through the eyes of a man who left it for urban adventure but returned to observe and comment on its solid values.

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