Harmony of the World: stories
© 1984
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In 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.

Whether 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.

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