Stay Up With Me (Hardcover)
The stories in Tom Barbash's wondrous and evocative collection explore the myriad ways we try to connect with one another and with the sometimes cruel world around us. The newly single mother in "The Break" interferes in her son's love life over his Christmas vacation from college. The anxious young man in "Balloon Night" persists in hosting his and his wife's annual watch-the-Macy's-Thanksgiving-Day-Parade-floats-be-inflated party while trying to keep the myth of his marriage equally afloat. "Somebody's Son" tells the story of a young man guiltily conning an elderly couple out of their home in the Adirondacks, and the narrator in "The Women" watches his widowed father become the toast of Manhattan's midlife dating scene, as he struggles to find his own footing in life.
The characters in Stay Up with Me find new truths when the old ones have given out or shifted course. In the tradition of classic story writers like John Cheever and Tobias Wolff, Barbash laces his narratives with sharp humor, psychological acuity, and pathos, creating deeply resonant and engaging stories that pierce the heart and linger in the imagination.
“Barbash is a true craftsman who sweats over every sentence, and that artistry makes you want to read the next story… These characters…really aren’t like the rest of us, except–and this is the crucial part, this is why Barbash is worth reading–they hurt in precisely the same way we do…”
“These stories should come with a warning: They might undo you.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the thread that binds stories in a collection together, but in the case of STAY UP WITH ME it’s enough to say that each story is very, very good…Barbash seems drawn to characters…who are reeling from freshly broken families or relationships”
“Fantastic…These Cheever-esque stories all show that Barbash has a sensitive ear towards the subtle ways that relationships are formed and altered, but he’s also not afraid to open a story with a car accident and watch the sparks fly.”
“Barbash gives us a wise, infatuating collection that navigates the thorny passages of preoccupation more honestly than any recent fiction. With alarm and empathy, and often an irrepressible urge to laugh, we watch his characters dig their own graves and realize ‘what it feels like to be lost.’”
“The new collection of short stories from Barbash…explores the difficult nature of human connection, whether it’s a young couple holding a party amidst the struggles of their foundering marriage…or a young man having a rough time in the dating world, whose widowed father is having no problems finding love again.”
“Barbash makes a strong impression with his first collection of stories… he deploys a keen, incisive wit; consider ‘The Women,’ in which the narrator watches his widowed father connect on the midlife dating scene, even as his own love life fizzles.”
“STAY UP WITH ME is a cohesive compilation of 13 distinct stories, all of which evoke the intricacies of human nature… Altogether, Barbash’s stories present a poignant cast of characters that will resonate with readers.”
“Stay Up With Me is a superb collection of stories-sophisticated, lyrical and moving, incisive in depicting the emotional connections between parents and children, husbands and wives, strangers and lovers. Tom Barbash is a blazingly good writer.”
“Graceful. If Raymond Carver had lived in Manhattan he might have delivered stories like “The Break”…or “Balloon Night.” - Kirkus Reviews
“Is there such a thing as the Great American Story Collection? Yes, and this is it.”
“This appealing collection reveals a supple writer who draws us in from the start of each new story, with none of the ‘collection fatigue’ one sometimes feels along the way from even the best practitioners of the genre. Highly recommended.”