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Richard Bausch | Tiferet Talk with Melissa Studdard and Donna Baier-Stein

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Join Melissa Studdard and Donna Baier-Stein for a conversation with Richard Bausch--the masterful and award-winning author of eleven novels, eight short story collections, and one volume of poetry and prose.

Bausch's stories have appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Gentleman's Quarterly, Esquire and many other magazines and have been anthologized in The Granta Book of the American Short Story and Something Is Out There: Stories (Vintage Contemporaries). In 2012, he won the prestigious $30,000 Rea Award for The Short Story.

Richard Bausch's story collection “Something Is Out There" was a 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, and an earlier novel, The Last Good Time, was made into a movie directed by Bob Balaban. His eighth novel, Peace, won the 2009 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction from the American Library Association. He has also written a book of poetry and prose called These Extremes.

Bausch is the recipient of numerous grants, and fellowships including a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Hillsdale Prize of The Fellowship of Southern Writers, The Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Award in Literature. In 1997, Richard Bausch was elected to the Fellowship of Southern Writers and ten years later he became chancellor of the Fellowship.

Since 2002, Richard Bausch has been the editor of The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. He currently teaches at Chapman University in Orange, California.

To find out more about, Richard Bausch: http://richardbausch.com/ And to purchase his books, visit:  http://tinyurl.com/l25gls5







0:04 Melissa Studdard

Hello and welcome! I am Melissa Studdard and along with Donna Baier Stein. I am your host for tonight's episode of Tiferet Talk, a Blog Talk Radio show for Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature, where we publish writings and engage in dialogue to promote peace in the individual and in the world. We are thrilled that you are with us right now and we would love for you to also join our global online community at www.tiferetjournal.com. There, in addition to interacting with other members, reading their writings, and posting your own, you can subscribe to the journal and enjoy beautiful spiritually and intellectually compelling poetry, prose and art. This evening's guest is Richard Bausch, the masterful and award-winning author of numerous novels and short story collections, as well as a volume of poetry and prose. Bausch's stories have appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Gentleman's Quarterly, and many other magazines and anthologies and he is the winner of the prestigious Rea Award for The Short Story. His most recent collection "Something Is Out There" was a a finalist for the 2010 LA Times Book Awards. As well Bausch is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships including an NEA, a Guggenheim and the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Award in Literature. Bausch is also chancellor of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the editor of The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and a professor at Chapman University.

1:59 Melissa Studdard

The Pulitzer Prize winning author, Robert Olen Butler, had stated, "No writer has a finer insight into the delicate nuances of the human heart than Richard Bausch", and we agree. Hello Donna, hello Richard!

2:19 Richard Bausch


2:20 Melissa Studdard

It's really an honor to have you here Richard.

2:24 Richard Bausch

Well, it's a pleasure to be here.

2:27 Melissa Studdard

Hmm it's absolutely is. I'm going to go ahead and start with a question and then Donna, I'll bring you in for some questions in a little while too. Richard, I was thinking about your characters. They're so real and complex that it is like a __02:47__ you can almost forget that they are made of like alphabet imagination instead of flushing flood and it occurs to me that this can be attributed to much more than what happened in actual composition. So I would love to know what advice you might have for writers about learning and listening to people in a way that they are able to create authentic fleshy characters. Did that make sense?

3:15 Richard Bausch

Uhm yeah. Although I am really not the kind of writer that listens in much. I mean...

3:23 Melissa Studdard


3:25 Richard Bausch

Yeah. No one people would do of course, but I never, I've always felt more comfortable lying. I mean, when people say to me, "what do you teach?" I said I teach lying and I actually know him. And I say, well you know, I mean, we used to give a little lecture at school sometimes and I would begin wanting to keep the teacher's attention as well as the students so I would say, I would start by saying "Jesus Christ, is one of the greatest liars who ever lived" and of course then there's an immediate stampede back in the room. The teachers headed out to get a cigarette, but of course then I would go on to say there was no good Samaritan, that's a made-up story, same thing with the 10 talents, but all of those parables, they are all made of stories. And whatever else he was or whatever you believe he was, you know that he must have been an absolutely spell-binding story teller.

4:34 Melissa Studdard


4:35 Richard Bausch

So you know, a lot of the times it surprises me. In fact, I don't really trust that it doesn't surprise me. I think that when it's going really well and you're writing out of yourselves, you're not really so much there as if pretending what's going on, then anyone doing it, though this had to be me, anybody doing it, that you have all of the compassion and the forbearance of an angel and all of the anthologists. And then when you are stuck, then you're just as confused as everyone else and then you go on life in the confuse we all live in, but there's something that happens, I mean I don't think it's any accident that people believed and practiced it like a religion. I mean really, they say believed it, that there was a muse that spoke through a writer. That is an experience always is, as if somebody has started whispering in your ear, you know. Somebody that knows a lot more than you and is heck a lot more gentle.

5:59 Donna Baier Stein

And Richard, this is Donna, when you were first starting, did you trust that inner muse as much as you do today?

6:08 Richard Bausch

Oh no. When I first started I thought I was gonna be cast out. One of the fist stories I wrote was about a virgin lying in a bed with snakes around it, I mean it's just ridiculous.

6:21 Donna Baier Stein

So you were trying to do something that was coming from outside of you, that you were trying to imitate, maybe (crosstalk) something to what was being said inside you, coming through you.

6:33 Richard Bausch

Yeah, right. In fact, I encourage imitating other writers. I mean I tell my students, you know, and make them do that because you know, that's how you learn. I mean, if you go through an Art gallery, you see the painters setting up easels to actually copy the masters and learn how to paint. And you know, imitation is, I did it by accident. I was dating a young woman whom I knew liked books and so I was trying to impress her by sounding like whoever I was reading and you know, of course, she was smart and knew right away at one point she said "You have been reading a lot of Witman." I felt caught out and I felt like a (laughter). But it's one of the luckiest things I ever did because I was teaching myself how to do it.

7:33 Donna Baier Stein

Yes, I heard what it's like... (crosstalk)

7:34 Melissa Studdard

(cross talk) so it's like you were obvious...go ahead.

7:38 Donna Baier Stein

Go ahead.

7:39 Richard Bausch

I'm sorry. I didn't hear you, what?

7:44 Donna Baier Stein

(cross talk) I heard once that Joyce Carol... Oh, go ahead Melissa.

7:45 Melissa Studdard

(cross talk) I just want to say you're... No, please go ahead Donna.

7:50 Donna Baier Stein

I heard once that Joyce Carol Oates copied verbatim stories by Hemingway and Kaufman and others when she was first starting, just to get the feel of writing out those stores, imitating them.

8:05 Richard Bausch

Yup. I was once in a car with Joyce, she's a dear friend. I was once in a car with her and she said "how's your work coming?" and I said "Pretty good. I'm getting eight hours a day" and she said "Oh, only eight hours" and she laughed and said "it's a joke, it's a joke" before I could really lose it you know. I mean, she's an empire. The thing about it that's amazing to me is how much texture and when you read, as if somebody spent 20 years on it. She's just a genius. She's one of the great ones.

8:52 Donna Baier Stein

Uh hmm. I have a friend who was...(cross talk)

8:53 Richard Bausch

(cross talk) There are so...huh?

8:56 Donna Baier Stein

Oh, I was just gonna say that I have a friend who was good friends with her in college and he said that she used to write a novel and then turn the paper over and write another novel on the other side, just to practice.

9:14 Richard Bausch

I think I'll remind her that the next time I see her.

9:16 Donna Baier Stein

(laughs) You should, you should.

9:21 Melissa Studdard

That's amazing. Well Donna, did you have a question that you wanted to ask?

9:27 Donna Baier Stein

Uhm well, when I took a writing class with you a few many years ago, I remember you sending an email saying "write, write, write" and I also remember that you were not a teacher who said figure out your plot in advance and I was eager to hear a little bit more about that from you that I am now teaching some beginning writing classes and I use your story, "The Man Who Knew Belle Starr" and I was wondering, did you just plot Mcrae down in his Dodge Charger in Texas and see what happened? You did not know the ending, you don't really know the ending in advance, you just...(crosstalk)

10:11 Richard Bausch

Well that story...(crosstalk)

10:12 Donna Baier Stein

(crosstalk)...play out for dance. Pardon?

10:15 Richard Bausch

Well that story particularly, I started to write it, it came from a past, a general wonderful movie called "Five Easy Pieces". In it, there, Jack Nicholson and Karen Black are travelling and they are driving and they picked up two hitchhikers and there's a woman who is extremely negative, complaining, and its comic seeing, you know, you see Nicholson's frustrated look on his face and everything. But I got to thinking what if somebody got picked up and there really was some serious that they had to tell. And so, I started with that and there's a place in the story where the hitchhiker says, he says where are you headed and she sticks her thumb out and points it down and says "down". And when I wrote it, I thought telling him that she is dying. And I had not idea what she had in that bag. And when a pistol and shot the guy, I put the story aside and I said what is this, I've been watching too much TV or something, it's ridiculous.

11:35 Donna Baier Stein

(laughs) Yeah.

11:37 Richard Bausch

And I went away from what I was working on, I had a bad cold and I was writing in bed and I just started writing other story work of another story and then about a month later, maybe it's two months later, I was in a bar with a student after a class and I was saying "You know, you got to follow your subconscious man. Whatever occurs to you, you gotta go with it, follow it, see where it's leading." And as I was speaking, there's little voice in my head said "why don't you go home dumbie, follow your own advice." So I went home and spent that night, I wrote the rest of the story overnight and then I had no idea when I started it but that was where it's going.

12:29 Donna Baier Stein


12:30 Melissa Studdard

Is that typical for how you write your stories that you just sort of let the story develop on its own?

12:39 Richard Bausch

Yeah. It doesn't surprise me. I'm kinda weird of it. And it's boring to me, not surprising, you know. It's hard to get a work that it's figured it all out. It's like...(crosstalk)

12:52 Melissa Studdard

(crosstalk) you know...

12:53 Richard Bausch

(cross talk)...homework you know.

12:57 Melissa Studdard

Uhm hmm. I think I remember reading in another interview with you that you tried not to work, actually not that you tried not to, just simply don't really worry about the theme when you're writing. You just sort of let the creativity take over and I was wondering, because some of your stories just really have such clear and amazing themes like in a lot of the story and I was so blown away by the ending of that and how you know, they are all kind of obsessed with this idea of heroism but then we see that he's isolated, actually the hero is the more cowardice aren't really what built our lives. It's the day-to-day interactions you know. Because when he goes home, it's the same, everything's the same and you know, I am just wondering did you not have, another, what a better, really like apparent themes in that story, did you not have any of that in mind when you were writing it? Or you just sort of let the characters do what they would?

14:01 Richard Bausch

I was just visiting misery on that poor guy. The thing that you do is -- John Irving tweeted this a long time ago and I was a student of his and the best way you can be a student in a sense is you go write and you let me alone. But uhm, he said I think of characters and then there is a trouble upon them and see how they behave. I think that's a pretty good way to put it although I am always thinking in terms of they don't interest me if there is no trouble. I mean, there's a whole school of, I won't say critical thought, but people who do occasionally writ reviews will now have these two things that are so mistaken. One is that somehow you know, the story is depressing, its about trouble. So you know, you're gonna write a story but no trouble, so it's like we're going to play football with no tackling. I mean it's struggle, it's about trouble. It's not what makes the things that trouble us and you know the thing that separates the so-called trivial entertainments, I don't think any of them are trivial by the way, but I'm saying that people call it __15:39__in all the rest, I think they are all honorable and good and to be celebrated.

14:48 Richard Bausch

And I think that you know, the thing that separates them is really this emphasis that the trouble is something with a lot of so-called genre fiction that trouble is something that can be resolved or some accident or other whereas awful lot of, most so-called literary fiction is about those troubles for which there isn't any action, there is nothing you can do. You just gotta find a way to live through it or whatever it is, it's useless to say grandfather just died and everything should. You know, there's nothing you can do about a thing like that. You just gotta live with it.

16:27 Melissa Studdard

That's an amazing...

16:31 Richard Bausch

But I don't think about it. When I'm writing, I'm just trying to be clear and that's what you wanna try to hope to get your students to understand if they can just trust, that if they can be as clear as a child would be describing what they're saying with the direct gaze of a child, then awful lot of good stuff is going to come out. It just has to. It's the way we are built for. That's how we've done everything we've ever done. Look at those caves at Alaska, there was no art theory then, but they are great things. They're outstanding pieces of art.

17:08 Donna Baier Stein

And now they say they may have been done by women. Did you read that recently?

17:14 Richard Bausch

Yes, and I love that idea. How (crosstalk).

17:17 Donna Baier Stein

Yeah, it was in the news recently. Fascinating. Uhm, when you are in the dream of the wiring, but when you are writing about something, let's say the silver war or the canary islands or something that you don't direct experience of, do you break to do some research or do you, how do you do that?

17:40 Richard Bausch

Oh, I do the reading and the research. When I wrote "Hello To the Cannibals", a whole lot of research I had to do. One of the lucky things about, this novel is about Mary Kingsley who is a real person, an English woman who ended up being the only European, still I think to this day, to climb the east phase of Mt. Cameroon and she left a card just like she was in some Victorian dinning room, back then and the six men who travelled with her got drunk on the rum they had to keep warm and she was very exercised with them, and she was an amazing person. So I got into her and the lucky thing about it was that all of the people that knew her, none of them understood her. She was a complete mystery to everyone and her journals and letters only refer to places she has been. I knew that she had liked Paris. She spent two weeks there. I got to make up that whole two weeks because there's nothing else just that she was in Paris this time and I liked it. So for a natural-born liar like me, that was perfect for me to write a novel. But I did have to read, I enjoyed it a lot. Books about what kinds of monetary things they used in the 19th century and I wondered about Victoria in England. And having just read Dickinson entirely after. You know I read the masterpiece where I saw I wanna go through him while I was on the Lila Wallace thing where it was three years and I just went through Dickens like a blight and loved it and still love it.

19:39 Richard Bausch

But I learned a great deal about Victorian life then, you know. Dickens is so good at the level of the line. I mean, at every level of course, but at the level of the line he's so much fun. I mean he says things you'll never forget and he had a very well-trimmed beard and he was quite bald which gave him the appearance of someone who is harried and arrested in the act of falling off his head. It like, you can't forget that you know.

20:17 Melissa Studdard

That reminds me of something in, I'm trying to get these exact words but actually in your novel "Peace", the horse within the, how was it phrased? It's really, it's a manner of the attitude of flight, I love that.

20:37 Richard Bausch

Oh yeah, the horses in the river.

20:39 Melissa Studdard

Uhm hmm. And the attitude of flight, I love that. Well uhm, I know you've got a new book coming out in August and I would love to hear a passage from that and also if you want to tell us a little bit about that. I'm sure a lot of your readers and fans are just kind of jumping up a bit for that.

21:01 Richard Bausch

It's a novel called "Before, During, After". And Before is 911. And During is a rape that takes place on a beach in Jamaica because all the planes are down. My protagonist, her name is Natasha. After Natasha in __21:32__ great novel. She is a water florist. She is about to married and her going-to-be husband is in New York and so for a terrible day, she really must be dead because she cannot get through to him and he was talking about going to the towers for breakfast. And even though intellectually, she knows that what happened, happened before the towers were opened for normal tourists, she still has this picture of him on the street and debris falling on him and everything because she can't get through. And she has too much to drink as everyone on the island has too much to drink, especially the Americans and a seemingly harmless man makes a pass at her and just, because she feels sorry for him lets him kiss her once but then says, "I don't want anymore of this, please," then he went on. And she goes down the beach and falls asleep and he's passed out. She can't even see him where she is but she comes out of it and he is on her and it happens. And so, After in the novel is her attempt to do what 7 out of 10 victims of that crime do, which is just to go on and not report it and try to live on, live past it, through it.

23:01 Richard Bausch

And so, it's a love story. He loves her, they are quite passionate about each other and something's different and he does not know how to figure it out and he begins to think maybe she had an affair in Jamaica. And so towards the end, this is towards the end. After has come out finally where he has broken down the bathroom door because he wants to tell her "I don't care if you had an affair. We're married, I love you, I don't care." And she has screamed it at him, "It was rape, I was raped, get away from me!" And so, she's alone in the house and she was thinking that if this was a movie, the man who raped her would come back and sneak out at her and she'd kill him and all that, but in the story, she's living the hours of the rest of the night and just go on. And so it starts there and she starts to think about the other victims of this crime and that's where it starts. It goes like this. You know, when people say "it goes like this, it's like it felt that here is an approximation of it. This is exactly, this is it. As it exactly is a trick. God, she said a lot, no and then she repeated it, no. She thought of the 60% to 70% who went on with their lives. She imagined them never speaking of it and evidently, nobody noticing anything. It must be that in one way or another, they found the strength to make a kind of truce with it. Somehow they succeeded in concealing it.

24:57 Richard Bausch

And they smiled and laughed and went with friends and made love and they had no nightmares about it and nobody was the wiser or else they did have the nightmares and lived secretive haunted lives, enduring by some means of the anxiety and discard sense of themselves, the fear of every change, listening always in the dark, carrying this feeling of trespassing violation. But showing the world, only the polite desperate lifting of the hand to wave like that poor doomed woman in the ruin of the south tower. She worked a foot a tall away, afraid that simply by thinking it, she was depriving a dead person of her dignity. And then she thought of the man who committed these crimes and went on with their own lives and did it over and over again and yet too many people, men and women both, consider the thing itself a form of sexual excess or even awfully in some mysteriously habituated way, an unacceptable breach of propriety. The whole culture smacked at it, smelled at it. She sat on the bed crying now for all those whom she would never know, as if they were all one species together. A type of creature crouched in the failure of life all around them, estranged from where they lived, crushed by expectations and by assumptions.

26:22 Donna Baier Stein

Wow. So powerful.

26:27 Melissa Studdard


26:31 Donna Baier Stein

I know, uhm...(cross talk)

26:32 Richard Bausch

It's called "Before, During, After".

26:36 Melissa Studdard


26:37 Richard Bausch

It's called "Before, During, After".

26:40 Melissa Studdard

(cross talk) And when is it gonna be out?

26:40 Donna Baier Stein

(cross talk) "Before, During, After".

26:43 Richard Bausch

August. It's coming out in August.

26:45 Donna Baier Stein

Okay. Right, right. And then the...(cross talk)

26:48 Melissa Studdard

(cross talk) Was that, I know you got four daughters, was that difficult for you to imagine and write?

26:58 Richard Bausch

Well, everything is always difficult. The whole process for me is extremely difficult, but this one was particularly hard because of the fact that not only my daughters but all the women I know. And you know, this is a failure of light all around us that has to do with it. I mean, we're not that far ahead of the damn caravan when it comes to women's country. And it's just, you know, you think ,some advancements of what have been made by now on this post feminist paradise but we don't have it and it's, women still only makes 77%, wait what it is, 77 cents on the dollar? There is still these impediments to advancement and all the rest of it and all the assumptions. And you know, assumptions I, myself, growing up and going out in the world have been guilty of.

28:05 Melissa Studdard

You know, when were talking earlier, before the interview, I know you had some concerns about writing, about this kind of situation and about women but I just want to say thank you. I really appreciate that there are men who were as concerned as you are with these issues and I feel like, what we're concerned with Donna, correct and established everything is, peace in the individual and in the world and I feel like the way you explore these characters and, male and female, the way you create empathy, not only in yourself being told that you were talking about earlier but, you invite the reader into that empathy and they can only make things better. Don't you think Donna?

29:01 Donna Baier Stein

Yeah. And I also think that confronting violence and acknowledging it is the real important task in today's world and actually that was something that I was thinking about re-reading "Peace" and some other interviews that you had done and you said in an interview earlier this year that in this most recent story collection "Something Is Out There", you noted that this interest in forms of menacing crimes was something you had not really explored that much. And another interview said that at some point with "The Man Who Knew Belle Star", you had felt uncomfortable about it and maybe it was the discomfort of finding that it was a gun in that brown paper bag, and I'm just, I'm very curious about this, or drawn to this because to me writing about those acts of violence like what happened in Santa Barbara and so many others that it helped, how do you feel like it helps move the world forward like that?

30:17 Richard Bausch

Well you know, the way I really feel about the whole was this fiction and what we are, I don't believe there can be anymore important than doing what we are doing. I think it's literally the thing that can save us because it is the one thing that we, that distinguishes us as s species and it just seems to me that there is no evidence of the love of art making anybody less violent or less terrible and they are listening to Mozart while they were putting people to death and terminating them. It's a very depressing thought but it's, I've never gonna said, poetry nothing happened. But I think that if somebody's reading a book, at least for that period of time that they're reading the book, their willingness that sinks in monolith is slightly less, if that makes any sense. But if we can only find some way that in general in such a way that everybody gets it. Let's treasure it. You know, it's what William Carlos Williams said. "Yes, poetry is not, how did he put it, poetry won't save your life but many people have died for lack of what is found there.

32:04 Donna Baier Stein

Yeah, uh hmm.

32:08 Melissa Studdard

Uhm, about the writer and the reader, (cross talk), yes?

32:14 Richard Bausch

How do you negotiate any of it without learning something? I mean it just seems to me that it's, if we could just concentrate on that somehow. But you know, we all wanna make it, and the paradox of it is you can't, the first time you think of managing better human being is you are desperate before you ever pick up the first and there's something corrupt about that. So I mean, it's very complicated and strange and I don't know what the answer is. I just know that when I'm, I feel that what I'm doing is I was in and at itself, and so, yeah, it gives me the willingness to keep doing it and it's really, when you think about it a very low pressure job because you don't' have to think too much.

33:18 Donna Baier Stein

I've tried hard to agree with when reading your book.

33:24 Melissa Studdard

But you know Richard, along these same lines, I was really struck by something I read in another interview with you and it was the story about your friend Roland Flint and the toddler on the road, do you know what I'm referring to?

33:39 Richard Bausch

Yeah, it's called Stubborn.

33:42 Melissa Studdard

Uhm hmm. And...(cross talk)

33:45 Richard Bausch

That's what you call a surprise.

33:46 Melissa Studdard

Pardon me?

33:48 Richard Bausch

That's one of the proudest things in my life. (cross talk)

33:50 Melissa Studdard

I would love for...(cross talk)

33:52 Richard Bausch

(cross talk) When he gave me the poem, he said I should have, I said I wonder who I'd give this first copy to and should have known that it would go to the _33:58__ and maybe write it.

34:07 Melissa Studdard

Uhm hmm. You know, for me, it just really relates to what we were just talking about because I personally wasted years and years, not writing because I was kind of afraid that it was indulging and it really took me a long time to get over that and it's a fright and I feel like if I would have read the story, __34:27__, I would have been writing the whole time. I would, I mean you'd talk about how you have atoned you're morally obligated to do it, I would love for you to share that whole story with our listeners if you don't mind. I mean, what happened in the way you advised him?

34:49 Richard Bausch

Well it was, it was very thankful for him and you know that was then, was the dividing line of his life and he was a great poet. And he wrote some of the most beautiful poems about that, but in this particular instance, he was on his way home and he was thinking about it, he just taught a make-up class and he stopped to buy some flowers for his wife because her birthday was coming up and he saw this little toddler walking down the road and he stopped the car and he went and tried to find out where he was going and the parents came running out to the child that gotten out in the rain, they got into the cat store or something. And the father was upset, of course, and Roland said to him, "I think he is very scared now", and then he found himself saying, "I had to tell you I lost my son this way", crying, telling it to the man. And then he called me, wrote it in the journal and then he called me crying and said, and told me what happened and he said, "The things that I traded for poetry, to think that I would use poetry to talk about it." And I just commiserated with him a little and we hung up. You know, and so that's tough. I'm so sorry that happened and then I get to thinking about it and I called him back and I said "Look, you are morally obligated to write that poem. There are people who don't have the words to whom this very thing has happened. And the fact that you have the words meaning that you are supposed to do that. That's what you are put here for.

36:49 Richard Bausch

And so he wrote "Stubborn". He went right to the table and wrote it. And you know, that's when I realized and I have been saying it ever since, I mean that writing is not an indulgence, it is an obligation if you have any gift for it all. And it's in the Bible. I mean, no matter how conservative anybody is, there is no way they're gonna convince anybody of anything, against writing of anything but something you are obligated to do, it's right there, that's why we have the word talent. The four sons are each given 10 talents and one of those squanders it, and another one hoards it and the third one uses it and there's one on his left. So you know, never has been an indulgence. And there's something about this culture you know, "Oh, you want to be a writer, that must mean your personal choice and you're a snob you know, you have for that and it's like James Dickey used to say, grow up and mercantile America being a poet, what could be more unlikely than that. But he did a pretty fair damn good job of it. He was a great poet.

38:15 Donna Baier Stein

You said James Dickey correct?

38:17 Richard Bausch


38:19 Donna Baier Stein

You said James Dickey?

38:22 Richard Bausch


38:23 Donna Baier Stein

Yes, and I was, and actually just the Bible story you mentioned. Plus more another question that I wanted to ask you too about what kind of religious or spiritual upbringing you had and I thought he suggested the title of your first novel "Real Presence" correct?

38:44 Richard Bausch

Yeah. And I didn't like it.

38:46 Donna Baier Stein

You didn't like it? Do you like it now?

38:47 Richard Bausch

I love it. And I couldn't think of that book under any other title. I just didn't know enough at the time and I didn't know how good it was as the suggested title. But, he was very, very kind to me and I'm lucky I'm very good friends with his daughter, Brianna, who is a very gifted young writer and working on a book right now, a non-fiction book. And I get to her, rush her on the telephone saying "get to work", and you can't give in to this. She's so gifted that, like a lot of people who really are, have this great gift or just reading it out and, the way all of us are. I mean when I sent "Before, During, After", my, my publisher was out of the country and my agent had just started reading another client's book and you know, anyway, two weeks went by and I was walking around in the house going, and I wasn't being suspicious going. It's crap. They are just looking, trying to find some, kindly way to tell me to go away. And you know, it took my wife Lisa saying "come on hon, you know that's not true." I don't' know, that's not true, that's the thing about this. And that is the thing about this you know.

40:21 Donna Baier Stein

It's amazing. After all the wonderful things you have written that you would still feel that.

40:26 Richard Bausch

Yeah. Well, it's just you know, it's the territory. When a student tell you, how doubtful they are, I said, "Well, get used to it because it ain't never going away, might as well make friends with it now."

40:45 Melissa Studdard

Make friends with it, I like that.

40:47 Richard Bausch

Yeah. (crosstalk)

40:50 Melissa Studdard

I was gonna ask you... (crosstalk) Oh, go ahead.

40:50 Richard Bausch

No, no, what?

40:55 Melissa Studdard

I was just gonna ask you as well, for me you just really defy that stereo-type of live alone, angry writer who's hiding in the cabinet with a bottle of whisky and tin foil over the sheath in the shotgun and you know that image that we have and I have seen a lot of that friendships that you've made through your writing and you've very affectionately mentioned several people tonight and I just wanted to ask you, it's very personal but, I just wanted to ask what has it meant for you to be a writer, to be part of the writing community and to spend your time writing? To me, you're such a good example of it, it's a joyous thing. And not necessarily so solitary.

41:44 Richard Bausch

Richard Bausch (0:41:44): No it's not. I mean, it's one of the most gregarious things in the world because what you're really trying to do is you wanna talk to everybody. Hey, it's just for all, you know. I got something for all of you. Like, it's like my daughter Lyla, we were at this wedding and everybody was standing up and she was too, everybody was standing up to talk about the young couple and how, wishing them luck and all that stuff, and Lyla said "okay my turn!" So, there it is. But I mean, there ain't anything more, I mean I can't even tell you how I was blessed. I have been, I knew your daughter, I know the great George Garrett. George and I travelled together for a dozen years and then George died, I knew how he's damn lost, so when Holly died because we had this thing we called the money losing offer store and we would go out and somebody would offer a reading or something. We both would do this and so you know, I said if I could bring George Garrett I'll split the honorarium and with me, it was always, when I'd say that, they would go, "you can get George Garrett?" and I'd say "yeah" and it's all, man, they'd jump. Now with George, you know, he had to do some explaining. 'Cause you know, when they were calling, they want George Garrett who was just you know, one of a kind. And so but I've been so lucky. And I have a twin brother who's an amazing writer. He wrote a novel that they made Bruce Almighty out of it. It's a hell lot better than that novel, I mean that movie. He got a novel coming out this fall. He sure has not done it for a long time. (crosstalk)

43:41 Melissa Studdard

Uhm, do you want to tell us about it?

43:45 Richard Bausch

Yeah. It's called, the novel is called "Far As The Eye Can See" and it's a western. There's already movie interest and it's, he's an amazing writer. I mean, he started the whole thing. When we were in eighth grade he wrote a silver war novel and everybody in the house was just you know, my sister was typing pages up and my parents are reading it and I was playing basketball.

44:20 Donna Baier Stein

Do you share your work with each other before it's sent out?

44:23 Richard Bausch

Nope. I don't' want him to see it until it's in print because I want him to see the best that I have. I don't wanna, you know? And he's the same way, so we don't really show each other out so we need to work until someone might publish the work. Reading Lisa's novel, my wife, is Lisa Cupolo, who has just finished her first novel, I'm reading that now. It's a wonderful novel called "Two Elizabeths". It's about a woman named Elizabeth who is returning to Canada to Niagara Falls to see the daughter that she ran away as she was born, who has been raised by someone else and at the same time, Queen Elizabeth is coming for her Jubilee visit in 2002, that's why it called Two Elizabeths 'cause of the women in it, Elizabeth. And the woman in charge of the Queen's visit is the girl's foster mom. It's a terrific book. And I get to see it first.

45:40 Donna Baier Stein

It's a great title.

45:44 Richard Bausch

Isn't it? Yeah.

45:45 Donna Baier Stein

Yeah, yeah. And you mentioned that you'll be in New York June 10th at Symphony stage, is that correct?

45:49 Richard Bausch

Yeah. They're reading, they read a, they do a thing where they read a story about the years, the previous year's Rea Award winner. I'll be coming in.

46:03 Donna Baier Stein

Great! I will do my best to get there, right.

46:07 Richard Bausch

Wanna have lunch Donna?

46:08 Donna Baier Stein

Sure! It sounds good to me, that'd be terrific.

46:13 Richard Bausch

It's a long time.

46:17 Donna Baier Stein

I know! Several decades. And like...(crosstalk)

46:19 Richard Bausch

(crosstalk) Could it be that long?

46:21 Donna Baier Stein

If you remember that email saying "write, write write!", that's what it said so. You're a fine blend of awesome writer and awesome teacher as well so that's pretty rare.

46:36 Richard Bausch

That's very sweet of you to say.

46:44 Melissa Studdard

Well, is there anything else going on that you would like to tell the listeners about? Any other events or readings or publications?

46:53 Richard Bausch

Uhmm, well, I've got a story coming out in D2r called "Veterans Night", about two veterans who get into trouble in a bar and their friend, it was in Vietnam. It's very, very short but I'm proud of it. I'm working on a new book, a story of living in the weather of the word.

47:23 Melissa Studdard

What a great title.

47:25 Donna Baier Stein

Yeah, also what did...(crosstalk)

47:27 Richard Bausch

Oh, thank you.

47:28 Melissa Studdard

Yeah, that's fantastic.

47:50 Richard Bausch

I'm very proud of it and I think it's a pretty good book. I've already got six stories. Two long ones, so that when I finish them, it might be the book, it might be all, I mean I don't wanna go over, you know. And then there's a novel...(crosstalk)

47:53 Melissa Studdard

You know that one...

47:55 Richard Bausch

What? Remember what?

47:58 Melissa Studdard

Well, I was thinking about your collected short stories and I was just thinking about what it must be like to put together a book like that and wondering if there is anything you noticed, you know, about your evolution or your interest or just anything that stood out for you about yourself as a writer from seeing things that were put together after all this time?

48:30 Richard Bausch

You what, the thing is odd is there is a couple stories out that now I kinda wish I'd put in, you know. It's like divorce that I think has one of the best moments I ever wrote and I don't' know why I left it out. I guess maybe, well you know, that's how come we ended up with "Wives and Lovers" because if we were gonna include the novellas, it's gonna be a book that, it's gonna be like the Oxford English Dictionary, it'd be too big. So just you know, the paperback, three short novels, but uhm I never did, I mean, it's fine I never really re-read a lot of them and just sort of arranged them in the sense like I was arranging any regular collection I did. For instance, the first story in there, it's called "Nobody in Hollywood" and I just put it in there 'cause there is laughter in it. And I don't know why since _49:37__ do that one but it has a lot of laughter in it. And it's funny, it's a funny story. And then, by the way, that's when I learned, it's how slow I learned, that you know setting it in the motion is just simply doing exactly that. And if you are at a line, any line, then that predicates the next line. You gotta say no?. So you know, it tells you to say anything, anything at all. You got to follow it with something. I was being chased with organic pair of sweat socks, what's next?

50:22 Donna Baier Stein

That's true. Well, I wanted to tell you we have run over our time a little bit so if you have friends who listened and got cut off, you can let them know that even though it's a live show discontinued, it did continue to record, so the recording that is on file, they can go back and listen to that and hear anything as they want. So, it's been so wonderful talking with you really.

50:50 Richard Bausch

It's been fun.

50:52 Donna Baier Stein


50:53 Melissa Studdard

Yeah. As we close, could you sort of, I'm sure a lot of people are really curious about you now. I'm sure a lot of people that are listening are already fans but the ones who didn't know of your work already probably wanna learn more about it. Could you sort of direct them to your website or where would you like them to go to be able to follow you and learn more about you?

51:19 Richard Bausch

There is a website that Lisa put together. It's called, it's just richardbausch.com and it just come up. Pretty sure that's it.

51:31 Donna Baier Stein


51:36 Melissa Studdard

And you're on Facebook with wonderful quotes about writing.

51:39 Richard Bausch

Yeah, yeah.

51:41 Melissa Studdard

That's so good.

51:43 Richard Bausch

Oh, that's sweet. I've kind of run out of things to say about it.

51:50 Melissa Studdard

Oh! (laughs) I think your quotes there and the things that you say actually probably sustained a lot of writer, so. I mean a light of fire under you, you have to keep going.

52:03 Richard Bausch

Gotta figure something else to say.

52:06 Melissa Studdard

Yeah, yeah. No, it's wonderful. It's really wonderful. You know, the thing is, you're so, I feel that you're so on and stare, you know you're just without embarrassment or anything, you just talk about what's going on with you and your own writing, that's always still instructive to other writers.

52:30 Richard Bausch

Oh, that's good to know. That's good to know because you know, I gotta teach class tonight and I'm gonna go in with a poem, they're all wonderful. We're used to do this thing, you'll love this and we still do it occasionally. We come out after class and we're all standing in the parking lot and somebody will ask for "let's do the huddle". And so we'll all get in a huddle and everybody, it's as if we're a football team except very slowly we rise, come out of the huddle saying "Oh God, but I do love being gifted!" with our arms...(crosstalk) (Laughter) With our arms pointing at the sky, you know.

53:23 Donna Baier Stein

That's beautiful.

53:25 Richard Bausch

And if these people wanna go home and work, that's fine.

53:27 Donna Baier Stein

Yeah, that's beautiful.

53:29 Melissa Studdard

Well, you're truly a great, great inspiration to so many people and you really are. And I hope you think of more things to say. (laughs)

53:39 Richard Bausch

(laughs) I'll work on it. I promise.

53:42 Melissa Studdard

(crosstalk) (Laughs)

53:44 Donna Baier Stein

(crosstalk) Thank you so much for tonight. Yeah.

53:47 Melissa Studdard

Thank you.

53:48 Donna Baier Stein

Thank you. Before we close, I'd like to let our listeners know that you can subscribe to our journal at www.tiferetjournal.com. Our current issue includes Haiku by Alfred Corn and Sander Zulauf, a story by Julian Hoffman -- winner of the AWP Award Series in Non-fiction, translations of Anna Akhmatova by Alex Segal and more. While on the website, you may also want to order a copy of our first Tiferet Talk book, which includes interviews with Robert Pinsky, Ann Hirsch, Julia Cameron and many other writers. Special thanks for this and all our shows, to Tiferet Talk Producer, RJ Jeffreys and Associate Producer Udo Hintz and of course, our host, Melissa Studdard. I hope you will tune in again next month when Melissa and I interview Chard deNiord, author of four much acclaimed poetry books and co-founder of the New England College MFA Program in Poetry. We look forward to having you join us. In the meantime, I and all the staff at Tiferet wish you and the world a meaningful peace. May we all embody the concept of Tiferet in our lives, a loving heart, wise compassion, and an expansive reconciliation of opposites.