About “Baffled and Other Stories”

This book is my debut collection, a compilation of twelve short stories written and re-written over the last thirty years. The sources of these stories vary widely. I wrote the first draft of each story around the time it first came to me. Over time, I attempted to pound them from the merely real to me into decent literature for us.

Some of these stories won awards and contests; most didn’t. Only one of these stories was previously published: “Why I’m Here,” at http://www.shortstoryamerica.com and in Short Story America Volume II. The oldest story is “Garage Sale;” the most recent is “Throwing Snowballs at Cars.” All of these stories, in earlier forms, were part of my education at Vermont College of Fine Arts and refined mainly there.

Many or most of these stories are set in Rockford IL, the town where I grew up and raised my family. Many of them overlap in theme. Some also overlap in characters, and can be read as sequences. But read them alone first – they need to stand alone, too. The sequence connections are icing, like overtones in music – things that are there, additional, but nobody’s literally playing them.

Many or most of these stories deal with “men” issues — whatever that means. Hopefully many or most also touch on issues we all may be “baffled” by from time to time, at one time or other.

This book can be used as a textbook or guide, as well as a short story collection. Some of you will read the stories first; others will go straight to the back to read more about the author, or to check out the study guide and the author commentary on each story. Use the book however you want, for individual or group enjoyment, enrichment, and/or study. Creator and critic – that’s me, that’s us. Feed both here – this book’s a one-stop shop.

But mostly this book is about my love of the short story and my attempt to honor the short story form. So start with the stories. Read them more than once. End with the stories. Re-read them once every few years, see if they still stand up. It’s all about story. Story is all there is.

Enjoy. Think. Discuss. Understand. Relate. Share.

You could do worse.

Gary Lawrence
Phoenix, AZ
June 2013


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