The Spirit Returns by Richard Burgin
Stories (Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction)

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She didn't have anything to say so she smiled as he sat down. When he got settled she looked at him and the oddest thing happened. She couldn't see his face. She knew he was a man, but where his face was supposed to be, there was a blankness like a white sheaf of sky.

-- from "Carbo's"

The Spirit Returns is the fourth collection of original short fiction from Richard Burgin. His characters are everyday people at emotional and psychological crossroads. In "The Liar," a man opening up to a dinner companion is reminded of the emptiness of his own life when the promise of emotional intimacy unexpectedly goes unfulfilled. A couple on a date face their own gender prejudices, past disappointments, and sexual expectations in "Carbo's". In the title story, a man who takes an unusual pleasure out of frightening strangers is forced to deal with his own fears when he shares this pleasure with one of those strangers. These are flawed but genuine individuals, rooted in honesty and compassion, and the lines of their compelling stories trace journeys through insecurity, despair, and, ultimately, hope.

Praise for Richard Burgin and his work:

"Burgin has given expression to a chorus of alienated voices too haunting to be easily forgotten." -- New York Times Book Review

"Richard Burgin's ingenious tales are disconcerting from the word go." -- Los Angeles Times

"Richard Burgin's tales capture the strangeness of a world that is simultaneously frightening and reassuring, and in the contemporary American short story nothing quite resembles his singular voice." -- Boston Globe

"One of the most stimulating practitioners of the [short story] form." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

"Brilliant." -- Review of Contemporary Fiction

"Compelling... poignant" -- Library Journal

"There is a new warmth and depth here, a melancholy sweetness and an intensified longing for human connection." -- Houston Chronicle

" Fear of Blue Skies has a powerful cumulative effect, like watching a movie with a slow beginning that you suddenly realize has mesmerized you." -- Chicago Tribune


About Richard Burgin

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Richard Burgin is the author of 11 previous books, including The Spirit Returns, Fear of Blue Skies, and the novel Ghost Quartet. Three of his books were named Notable Books of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Burgin recently won his fifth Pushcart Prize, and he has had 15 other stories listed by the Pushcart Prize anthology as being among the year's best in previous years. He is both founder and editor of the internationally distributed and award-winning literary journal Boulevard and a professor of communication and English at St. Louis University.
Published September 17, 2001 by The Johns Hopkins University Press. 208 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Spirit Returns

Boston Review

Animated by Burgin's quick and economical prose, framed by his voyeuristic sensibility, these are recognizable and familiar people: suburban next-door neighbors whose difficulties are played out in front of open curtains, whose rumbling arguments are audible throu...

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