Why You’ll Love It

In this series, a Senior Reader talks about what drew them to a current Prairie Schooner story

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In the first installment of this series, PS Senior Fiction Reader Robert Fuglei writes about the story “Bath,” by Robert J. Stevens which appears in the current issue (Summer 2012).

Robert Stevens’ “Bath” is a lovely, quiet story about Asher, a father forced by his wife’s suicide attempt into the role of primary caregiver for his four-year-old son. Asher goes through the motions of domesticity while coping with his own sadness and confusion, regarded dubiously by a son to whom he’s previously been a stranger, a “nightly guest at meals.” A conventional scenario, but made new by a gentle, elegant eccentricity that never feels like overdetermined quirk and that never slides into mawkish sentimentality. The story focuses carefully on this developing father-son dynamic, letting the mother’s absence become a luminous, unsettling presence on the page without offering to explain or psychologize her actions. The ending achieves an almost primal beauty, but leaves the reader to determine its significance. A remarkable, deceptively simple story.