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Hush Hush


If you’re up $16,000 at the casino and missing dinner with the woman you love, how do you find the strength to drive away? If you give up your career and your beautiful wife and find yourself drinking vodka and fixing cars for a living, is that necessarily a step down? In Hush Hush, Steven Barthelme gives us a simultaneously twisted, heartbreaking, and hilarious account of learning to quit when you’re ahead.

The collection, which includes the Pushcart Prize-winning “Claire,” exposes the surprising dignity in lying on your belly in the pouring rain, in ringing your ex-girlfriend’s doorbell at 4 A.M., in sleeping with your dead wife’s best friend. Co-author with his brother Frederick of the brilliant and devastating casino memoir, Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss, Steven Barthelme seems to cast an eye at his own history and the characters he’s known. These are men and women who are down — but stirringly, not quite out. An unmissable, arresting book from one of the most seminal short story writers of the last twenty years.

STEVEN BARTHELME was born in 1947 in Houston, the son of the celebrated architect Donald Barthelme Sr. He is the author of the story collection And He Tells the Little Horse the Whole Story and the co-author, with his brother Frederick, of Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss. A collection of essays and occasional pieces titled The Early Posthumous Work appeared in 2010. He is the director of the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he is also a Professor of English. His writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Yale Review, McSweeney’s, and the Pushcart Prize annual.

Hush Hush speaks quietly and plainly… deceptively artful and refined.” —The Texas Observer

“Barthelme … [has a] flair for poetic one-liners paired with real emotion, and the results are breathtaking.” —Electric Literature

“Steve Barthelme’s tone is dead-right; his timing is perfect; and his philosophical stance seems about the best for being here and now … The tales are funny and touching. The telling is always deliberate, always hip, and always entirely his.”  —Mary Robison

“The stories are alive with desperate characters.”—Vanity Fair

“Profound … a refreshing contemporary story collection for readers.” —Critical Mob

“One of the few noteworthy short story collections that we’ve come across this year.”—The Huffington Post

“There is a pragmatic eloquence to Steven Barthelme’s writing, in the way his characters explain their decisions and their failures to live up to their potential … it’s often beautiful and profound.” —L.A. Review of Books

“Short, cool exercises—clever and self-referential.” —TLS

Praise for Double Down

“The whole book . . . is a wonderfully seductive performance—witty, selfaware, at once full of subtle feeling and imlpacably knowing—a triumph of style over temporary insanity … The Barthelme brothers turned losing into an art.” —A. Alvarez, The New York Review of Books

“Dazzlingly canny and achingly abject.”  —Publishers Weekly

“A winning book about losing.”  —Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

“May be worth every penny the Barthelmes lost.” —Chicago Tribune

“Talks perceptively and sometimes brilliantly of life, death, family, hope and despair, and money as an expression of these things.” —Fay Weldon, The New York Observer

Praise for And He Tells the Little Horse the Whole Story

“Rich in laid-back realism, winsome fantasy, love, art, cats, and surprises. A first-rate first book.” —John Barth

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