Selected Works

This is not a book about teaching. It is about the limits and complexities of even our most benevolent urges--what we can give to others and how we lose ourselves.
Jesse Smoke has it all. One problem though. She's a woman, who plays, better than any man, a man's sport.
"An entertaining old-school western [in] the reluctant-hero tradition of Charles Portis (True Grit)." The New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice'
A brilliant exploration of human darkness, delusion, and desire for redemption.
--Beth Henley, author of Crimes of the Heart
An experience so intimate... that it almost blinds you with love.
--O- The Oprah Magazine
A beautiful and aching novel, alarming in its wisdom and treatment of one of the great terrors, loneliness, and one of the great mercies, forgiveness.
--Rick Bass
"Sometimes harrowing, sometimes funny, often luminously beautiful and always profoundly imaginative and moving..."

Quick Links

Author's Guild Back in Print Edition

Original Hardcover Edition

The Lives of Riley Chance

''No matter what you do you can't really get living right'' is one of the deceptively simple observations made by Riley Chance, the narrator of Robert Bausch's imaginative second novel, ''The Lives of Riley Chance.'' Riley knows more than most people about living because he's had three lives. He tells us about them in a a series of interviews while being detained on charges of strangling a woman in a taxicab. That he was actually trying to fulfill her last dying wish is one of many ironies in Riley's lives. For example, in his first life as the son of a downtrodden factory worker, Riley, at the age of 10, kills a man to avenge his long-suffering sister only to have his father, a union activist, accused of the crime. In his second life, during the Depression, when his mother is sick with worry over an indigent neighbor, he steals money from a church's poor box to give to the man only to discover later that his neighbor has been helping himself to the contents of the poor box anyway. Riley resolves ''to find some way to do something good without doing something sinful and bad at the same time.'' But he is seriously demoralized in his third incarnation when, after a friend's suicide, it occurs to him that it is often what doesn't happen that determines the course of life and that our limited actions can't possibly make up for life's countless omissions. The author warns us at the beginning that this is a sad story. Nevertheless, he couldn't resist an uplifting note at the end, one of the few false ones in the book. This is forgivable, however, for Robert Bausch has produced a funny, intelligent, poignant novel that courageously explores the fundamental truths in all our lives.- Carol Verderese, NY Times