one of the ten unblinkingly truthful stories that make up
Harmony of the the World, an elderly Polish piano teacher
scolds a morose pupil, "Pain always seems new when you
have it." It is Harmony of the World's ambition
to make its characters' everyday sufferings--and occasional
fragile joys--seem utterly unprecedented, even as Baxter reminds
us, gently and with a sly comic twist, that everything they
feel is only the collateral damage of being human.
describing the players in a rickety bisexual love triangle
or a women visiting her husband in a nursing home, probing
the psychic mainspring of a grimly obsessive weight lifter
or sifting through the layers of resentment, need and pity
in a friendship that had gone on a few decades too long, Harmony
enchants the reader with elegant balance and unexpected insights.